a gay

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Dec 29 20:53:39 UTC 2010

At 12/29/2010 12:59 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>I too have encountered people who felt that "Jew" was offensive, though they
>couldn't say why.

I can suggest why -- too many times calling an individual person a
Jew has been associated with abuse, denigration, racial prejudice and
violence.  One cannot easily, I think, curse someone using the
adjective "Jewish; it requires some invention and a lengthier
expression.  And I suspect referring to a group as "Jews" has less
often been said in a racially abusive way than referring to someone
as "a Jew".  Of course, I have no statistics, just an impression.

>One suggested that it was because "Jewish person" was
>"correct."  (How's that for rationalizing?)

I would not say this, but rather "He's Jewish" or "He's a Jew."  (I
have no problem with the latter in polite contexts; I do have a
problem with "You Jew.")


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

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