Latest on "negro"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 28 05:58:44 UTC 2014

On Sun, Apr 27, 2014 at 7:33 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at>wrote:

> "So _you_ can imagine what he must have said when I wasn't there."

Maybe "you" can, but I can't.

I wonder how this loser would have reacted, had he heard my former
landlord, a black native of Virginia, pronounce "Negro" as [nEgr@] or even
if he were to hear me pronounce it as "N[I]gro." And, of course, everyone
here of a certain age can recall that the pronunciation, "N[ij]gro," was
stigmatized, being eye-phoneticized as "knee-grow" in EBONY et sim. As
chance would have it, back in the day, only one of my friends, from
Minneapolis by way of Omaha, used the pronunciation with [ij]. He probably
was entirely unconscious of the fact that he was possibly the only person
in all of black St. Louis - or in all of pretty much black anywhere else,
for that matter - using that pronunciation.

Since this was back in the day of Jim Crow, white St. Louisans used
"colored" and "nigger." But, After The War, "Negro" was used in the
Post-Dispatch, the local liberal newspaper "Founded by Joseph Pulitzer,
Joseph Pulitzer, Junior, Editor and Publisher."

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

The American Dialect Society -

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