Re: words...

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Posted by Petra on November 21, 1999 at 02:05:22:

In Reply to: Re: words... posted by Elaine on November 20, 1999 at 22:59:33:

: Why, when you consider the proper, respectful origin of the word, would you acquiesce to misinformed sentiment?

>>> Hi Elaine,

well, it's not that I personally would demand that others not use it, just for myself, I won't. Well, maybe with execeptions: There is for example that mountain, or hill outside of Phoenix that is called Squaw Peak. Now, protest or not, of course I'd use that name if I were to refer to that place. But I mean referring to people, I just see no reason for me to do that or to insist on any certain word. Especially since the question of its origin is one that I can't evaluate, and I've had Algonquian speakers tell me both ways, some saying what you explained and others saying that it's nowhere close to any legitimate word they use and that they do consider it offensive. Then just avoiding the issue is the easiest solution for a bystander. And about changing or not changing place names I feel indifferent. If "Squaw Peaks" is renamed and given its Pima name, that sounds okay to me. And if it's not renamed, that doesn't bother me either.

: Why should it be replaced, omitted, or avoided at all if its meaning is good?

>>> Again, I'm not saying others should do as I do. Personally, and for me, I find it the wiser thing to do. Someone who is a speaker of one of the Algonquian languages is in a totally different situation. Since I'm not, I don't want to have to defend myself for something that would always be only second hand knowledge.

: how would you feel if Italians, French, Ethiopians, Phillipinos, etc. were demanding the omission of this German word? Wouldn't that offend you? Would you not see it as a bit arrogant?

>>> Not necessarily. If arguments are stated politely, then it doesn't matter from whom they come.

: Why not educate people?

>>> Oh, of course, I'm never against educating people. Take, for example, the issue of the swastika in American Indian art (a symbol for the sun, just like it's original meaning in Europe before the Nazis corrupted it). Last year, the case of a school in Minnesota went through the press, where some Indian art picture is engraved into the school's floor. There were people who demanded that the picture be removed because it is offensive to those who suffered under the Nazis. Eventually, a compromise was found by covering it with a carpet. Now that's different in my opinion because it's an existing piece of art where the origin of the symbol is not really controversial. And it's not an issue that arises new every time a word is used.

: Italians DO feel offended when called 'guinea' but would it be acceptable to erase the word from the English language due to its sometimes offensive intent or because of some negative sentiments?

>>> Well, if I know that it offends them, I certainly wouldn't refer to them by that word. They wouldn't be offended if it's used in a different context, right? Like in "guinea pig"?

Until later...


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