TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Last Laugh! Racism and All That Rot

Re: Last Laugh! Racism and All That Rot

Fred Goldstein (
Wed, 09 May 2007 20:41:26 -0500

In V26#126, Our Esteemed Moderator wrote,

> TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, I am 65 in a couple months, but
> do not know about Henry. The 'nigg' prefix-portion of some words is
> the rural southern America dialect of 'negro'. Many rural southerners
> long ago pronounced it 'neegra'. They usually meant nothing bad by
> it, it was just their way of pronouncing 'negro'. But there was a time
> in northern cities when the word 'black' was likewise an insult when
> it was used in the context of black Americans. But it any event, the
> use of 'neegra' became abused when people started using it without
> the /a/ sound on the end. 'Neegra' or 'nigger' were (still are) very
> racially charged words; 'niggardly' on the other hand refers to a
> person who is very stingy or miserly. Example: "This year's budget for
> the school of Mathematics is very niggardly. It must have been written
> up/approved by a person who is a niggard."

All true. "Niggard" is of Old Norse origin.

> The anthropological term
> for a (racially) black person is 'Negroid'; the anthropological term
> for a (racially) white person is 'Caucasian'. PAT]

Not really. That's early anthropological pseudo-science. Those
fancy-sounding words are meaningless at best. "Caucasian" is
actually a reference to sex slavery.

In late 18th century Europe, it was fashionable to try to lump the
peoples of the world into "races", largely as a way to make Europeans
feel superior. (This type of classification has no real basis in
science. It has largely died off outside of the United States, which
remains obsessed with slavery-era racial classifactions.) One of the
most respectable early German anthropologists, Johann Friedrich
Blumenbach, first applied the term in a 1795 paper. Blumenbach
collected skulls. He recognized that skin color was an artifact of
sunshine, so he tried to group people into races based on skull shape.

In that era, Georgians, from the southern Caucasus, were viewed as
very good looking, and were often conquered; the women were then
taken as sex slaves. One such slave was taken to Moscow by a Russian
invasion force. When she died of a venereal disease, her skull was
sent to Blumenbach. He obsessed about how "beautiful" it was. And
so he viewed "Caucasians", specifically meaning Georgians (the term
also literally includes Chechens, Armenians, Azeris, Kalmyks, and a
few others), as the best-looking of "white" people. So in honor of
that sex slave, a pseudo-scientific term for an arbitrary grouping of
Europeans and some Asians is "caucasian". See, for instance, this
2003 paper by Nell Irvin Painter:

I thus think of it a pretentious term that degrades humanity in
general, and speaks poorly of its user.

Fred Goldstein k1io fgoldstein "at"
ionary Consulting

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Speaking about odd pronounciations of
words, consider the town of Miami, Oklahoma. Residents there do not
pronounce it My-Am-eee, but rather My-Am-ah. And here in Independence,
our OctoberFest celebration Neewollah (the word 'Halloween' spelled
backward) is pronounced with a missing letter /A/ .. as in
'Nee-a-wollah', although 'Nee-wollah' would be correct. PAT]

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