McWhorter on "Negro" [Was: on "Negro English"]

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Mon Jan 18 22:50:44 UTC 2010

> In my own limited experience, "coloreds," pl., was mostly associated with
> white, blue-collar speakers (like Archie Bunker on "All in the Family,"
> beginning ca1971).  As such speakers seem more likely to be crudely and
> openly prejudiced, the noun became offensive before the adjective did. I
> haven't heard it in a quarter century or more.
> I don't think anybody uses "colored" as a sing. n. in the U.S. I certainly
> can't recall hearing it.
> JL

I wonder whether this is a case where the words "coloured" and "nigger" spin
differently in the US and the UK?  I'm not sure how much to the fore this
is, but in any use of the word "coloured" [sic? -- not "colored"?] I'd have
a sense that it was used as one of the categories of race in apartheid South
Africa -- White/Black/Coloured.

Similarly, "nigger" in the UK, while usually* offensive and racist, embraced
a wider spectrum of people than it did in the US, including Chinese and
those from the Indian subcontinent, as well as West Indians and

Sort of like, "I'm not a mysoginist -- I hate *everyone."


(I put in a caveat star to "usually*", as I'm not quite sure how to deal
with the way it's used by P.G.Wodehouse when he uses the term "nigger
minstrel".  Especially as up till yesterday evening, I wasn't aware that
this was a term which apparently didn't run in the US.

Two countries divided, etc.


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