[Ads-l] zwilling plane; ghetto

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 1 20:19:10 UTC 2021

In 2002 "Vibe" published a piece pushing back against the pejorative
use of “ghetto”. Several meanings were listed in the article for
“ghetto” including “poor quality”.

Date: November 2002
Periodical: Vibe
Article: Hood Winked
Author: Justin "Soul One" Bedford
Quote Page 72


[Begin filtered excerpt; follow link to see full text]
As a black person, every time I hear someone say, “That’s so ghetto,”
I can’t help but hear “n_____-ish.” Because when people say “ghetto”
nowadays, they’re usually referring to something or someone they see
as inferior, ignorant, ridiculous, disgusting, of poor quality or bad
taste, or just hopelessly, irredeemably black. And I find that
[End filtered excerpt]

The author proposed an alternative interpretation for "ghetto".

[Begin excerpt; follow link to see full text]
But, if we insist on using the term, maybe we should consider these
adaptations: “You know you’re ghetto when...you’re afraid to fight for
the betterment of your people.” Or, “You know you’re ghetto
when...you’re so selfish that you glorify the negative aspects of your
community for your own gain-without giving anything back.” Now that’s
worth rapping about.
[End filtered excerpt]

Below is a 1997 citation with two instances of the construct "You know
you're ghetto when" which is mentioned in the 2002 article.

Date: 1997 Copyright; 2001 Ebook Edition
Book Title: One Better
Author: Rosalyn McMillan
Unnumbered Page
Publisher: Warner Books: A Time Warner Company
Database: Google Books Preview

[Begin excerpt]
“You know you're ghetto when the rims on your ride cost more than your
car,” said the deejay, reading a fax from a listener.
The two women laughed together as the deejay put another caller on the air.
“You know you're ghetto when you cut off Barbie's hair and use it as
bangs for your weave." Even the deejay was howling in response to the
[End excerpt]

There is a different construct "You Might Be a Redneck If …" that
shares some points of similarity, e.g., class-based detraction. This
template was popularized by comedian Jeff Foxworthy who used the
expression as the title of a 1989 book from Longstreet Press of
Marietta, Georgia.

[Begin excerpt]
You might be a redneck if . . .
Your high school annual is now a mug shot book for the police department.
You consider a six pack of beer and a bug-zapper quality entertainment.
[End excerpt]

I am uncertain about the chronology of these items, so I'll refrain
from speculating about their evolution.

On Mon, Mar 1, 2021 at 1:18 PM Colin Morris <colin at cs.toronto.edu> wrote:
> (I joined the list after Jonathan sent his message, so please forgive the
> *ghetto* reply, lacking a reply-to header)
> This is a sense that's been around for a while - I'm sure I would have
> heard it and used it when I was in high school in the mid-2000's. I found a
> couple instances indexed by COCA circa 2010:
> 2010: "they don’t have to worry about whether 3rd party apps will support
> Twitter image hosting vs. Twitpic versus rolling their own ghetto
> solution." (
> http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/CommentView.aspx?guid=a7dabc88-96a2-46f1-b1d7-91de7528389a
> )
> 2012: "Even if you want to be pedantic, and suggest that people actually
> can memorize that crap and not need a ghetto DNS in the form of writing
> down the IPs and keeping a piece of paper beside their computer," (
> https://tech.slashdot.org/story/12/07/17/1621211/the-web-is-not-the-internet
> )
> Also, in 2010 a writer in the magazine Food & Drink talks about making a
> "ghetto version" of a recipe:
> https://books.google.ca/books?id=llwsAQAAMAAJ&q=%22ghetto+version%22
> The earliest relevant example I could find was a 2003 episode of Survivor
> (again, indexed by COCA). A team receives a prize of middling quality. One
> of the contestants says "I'd call it a ghetto Christmas. It's like asking
> for an Incredible Hulk doll and... and getting your sister's Ken doll
> painted green." Here ghetto seems to mostly carry the meaning of "low
> quality", but the analogy tacked on seems to show the
> "makeshift/jury-rigged" sense creeping in. (Also, FWIW, the contestant here
> is Jonny Fairplay, a white man who, based on his Wikipedia page, probably
> had little first-hand experience of the ghetto.)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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