[Ads-l] Dialogue from Law & Order

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 1 22:06:42 UTC 2016

White guy ordering up some brown frame from the _Exotic_  - any mixture of
sub-Saharan African and European ancestry - menu of an escort service:

"I'd like one who's _light black_, with _nice_ features."

We used "light black" in the 'hood, back in the day. Since, in yore-days,
any use of "black" with reference to our people was a *grievous* insult -
the polite term was "dark(-skinned)" - "light black" was a sarcastic insult
used only when the person referenced was either absent or not a member of
the speaker's clique*. OTOH, "_nice_ features" in the relevant meaning was,
naturally, unknown, given the term's implication that *other* kinds of
features are *not* "nice." The proper term was - and still is, AFAIK,
"_keen_ features," a term for the default case being lacking. To paraphrase
the Revealed Word of God, "Sufficient unto the register is the lexicon

*In a series on black and Chicano games, the NYT consistently used
_"click"_, i.e. _click_ in quotes. as though its writers and editors were
unaware of the pronunciation of _clique_ or unconscious racism and classism
had led them to assume that a precious word like _clique_ had to be unknown
to street-gangsters, therefore, "click" falling trippingly from *their*
tongues must be only their in-group jargon for "sub-unit," any resemblance
of it to the standard term being entirely coincidental.
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 - http://www.americandialect.org

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