Letters to the Editor

Comments

1
But "niggardly" is a modern word; that is, it's used commonly enough in contemporary English. Suggesting that certain words be stricken from the English lexicon just because they sound similar to some other word with a totally different etymology IS extremely "politically correct" in the sense that one feels entitled to a feeling of having been offended, even when it's due to one's own misinformed or misguided assumption.
What does make the term problematic is that it's possible to use the word correctly (its meaning having nothing to do with race), but it's also possible to intentionally misuse the word as a racist code word. See the Acampo, CA paragraph here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies…
2
Oh my, I agree with geyser.
3
83% white Portland appears obsessed with the use of this word, or at least Mercury readers are. How droll.
4
So, we're awarding an ignorant bint some free stuff for having typical Portland "liberal" white guilt when it comes to language. Yeah, I obviously understand why you wouldn't want to use niggardly around us because you're afraid of offending a 'scary' black man. It's easier to not have a conversation about the meaning of a word and assume we're as ignorant as you are, than it is to stop being a passive twat. Thanks, Mercury, for helping to propagate the notion that white people can't talk to us and we're all a bunch of scary gangsters.
Some of us have educations and know the meanings of complex words, to assume otherwise is more racist than not using the word.
Sincerely,
-Not DamosA
5
To close the circle, the etymology of the word "nigger" (sometimes written "niger" in early days) is the Spanish "negro" = "black." The earliest citation in the Oxford English dictionary dates from the late 1700s but I've seen earlier uses in republished documents in books and collections on the history of slavery.

It certainly was a widespread term of racial abuse before the Civil War. The idea that it was not pejorative before the 1900s is odd. Possibly what Kim is thinking of is that among whites before the 1900s, being pejorative about black people was rarely questioned outside of fairly limited abolitionist and reform circles before the 1920s. Or maybe she is thinking of negro/Negro?

Interestingly, the OED contains no form of the words "racist/racism" or "racialist/racialism" in either its main body or in the 1928 supplement, suggesting that the critique of racial ideologies and racially-motivated discrimination, oppression and violence had not gained its now common name in a way wide enough to reach the OED's sourcing process (which probably had upper class and conservative biases) even that late. "Raciology" as a word for the scientific study of races is in the supplement.
6
but.........what about the word: RENEGER???
7
Schwarzen*****