Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 21 01:47:46 UTC 2009

On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 7:47 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <
bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 20, 2009 at 6:59 PM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at ix.netcom.com>
> >
> > I've heard ABC for American-Born Chinese since the 80s and even heard
> > ABJ (Japanese) once of twice. Today, the Seattle Times had an article
> > about ABKs, Kenyans.
> [...]
> > I wonder if there is any limitation on this and what do you do with
> > multiple countries starting with the same letter? BB
> For South Asians, there's ABCD: American-Born Confused Desi. Wikipedia
> supplies some longer alphabetic variations, such as ABCDEFGHIJ:
> "American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, House In
> Jersey."
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American-Born_Confused_Desi

I would expect the AB_ initialisms to be used mostly among members of the
respective groups, and so without risk of confusion in context. The WP
article on "Desi" says (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desi#Usage):

It is mainly used by those of South Asian origins themselves, rarely by the
majority population, and carries a subtext of inclusiveness and unity. It
allows South Asians to refer to their broader immigrant community, rather
than requiring a specific, nationalistic label such as "Indian" or
"Pakistani". As such, its connotations are positive, alluding to the shared
values, bonds and experiences of descendants of the entire region.

Incidentally, OED has this word but not in this sense.

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list