Cognitive dissonance

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 5 12:29:04 UTC 2010

I'm familiar with "peckerwood" as an insulting, biracial South Midland
synonym for "poor white trash."  It can also be a dismissive term that can
be used affectionately
That sense may be restricted to whites.

Cf. the earlier, similar (and more widespread) evolution of "rascal,"
"scamp, "bugger," etc.


On Wed, May 5, 2010 at 1:28 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Cognitive dissonance
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> In the course of a cartoon flick that I was watching the other day,
> the Northern-speaking barmaid says to an adult thalidomide baby that
> consists only of a head with a torso:
> "Well, aren't *you* a streamlined little _peckerwood_!"
> Huh?!
> In a discussion of the local dialect with another, *white*, East
> Texan, he noted that _peckerwood_ is used WRT cuteness. I.e,. you
> might painch a toddler's "jaw" and say something like,
> "My land, aren't *you* just the cutest little _peckerwood_!"
> How?! Say what?!
> "Peckerwood" is normal Southern for "woodpecker," of course. But, in
> ETX BE, "peckerwood" is considered to be an *insulting* term for a
> white person! Far stronger than some phony, made-up, Yankee-Negro term
> like "hunky"/"honky," because it "keeps it real." Didn't anybody sit
> down and ask himself, "What would a good, insulting term for a white
> person be?" and end up recycling an obsolete word invented *by* white
> people for use against other *white* people!
> Yet, the white people whom blacks are supposed to find the word
> insulting not only trivially apply the word to themselves, but they
> also even consider it to be rather sweet!
> A brother just can't catch a break!
> Well, youneverknow!
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> –Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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