Awww, I feel so welcome here. The love is just overwhelming. But thinly-veiled ad hominem attacks reveal more about the person who employs them, rather than their intended target. If you want to hate me because I somehow upset your tender sensibility, go ahead and hate me. Just don't expect me to take you seriously.
Hi Rfrog. I find it fascinating that your rejection of 'words as magic' contains such certainty. I don't disagree with you, but this response actually proves the point; for while words are not 'magic', they can certainly SEEM like it sometimes. That illusionary line is, in fact, what magic is all about.
I think it's great to recognize that "the map is not the territory" and "the word is not the thing itself." On this point, you are right: nothing means anything *inherently*, the human mind interprets and makes the meaning. However, as John has suggested, this point ignores social and cultural awareness in the name of self-empowerment. I'm not a particular advocate of being politically correct ("oh no, i have to think about other people! What a bummer!") however I see a value in respecting other people.
The only point I'd like to make about 'magic' is that words are one of the means by which the mind captures memory and references abstract concepts. We need only point to a billion psychology books to note that. To suggest that using them is somehow detached from this process is ignorant.
It seems more likely due to our tendency to favor clustering comments wherever the discussion happened to be started for the sake of continuity (my reason for leaving a comment on this page rather than your list's)— I personally feel no attachment to the fact of being American (Who does, really? Most American Wordies seem critical of America), nor pleasure in deprecating those who aren't. I don't see anyone else celebrating putting others down, here.
We're not trying to erase them; we're simply questioning your regard for them. No one is insisting they have "magical powers" (Think you could lay off the hyperbole for a moment?), but that they have meaning— and some meanings fall below what a lot of people here consider worth dignifying. I don't see the point of playing Abrasive Internet Tough Guy.
This isn't the only neologism using the word cunt, yet it has sparked more than a little debate. From my own experience, Americans are very thin-skinned when it comes foreign criticisms and they may simply masking their hurt pride with an insincere feminist indignation. Do they have the same reaction to such words as cocksucker, dickhead or prick?
As to the insistence that words are somehow tiny vessels of magical power, that's a metaphysical nonsense. They only have that power if you give it to them. If you can't handle certain words, it's your own problem which you should work out. Don't blame them. Words are like sea-shells, postage stamps, insects, or other collectibles. Some are ugly, some are beautiful, but inherently none of them are bad. Linguists and logophiles, of all people, should know that.
If you read the comments again, you'll see the reaction is about the word "cunt." I don't think American pride comes into play here at all, really.
Also, words do have a power that transcends their referential meaning; they convey emotions and attitudes and also send messages about the background, education, culture, and awareness of the one who uses them. There is nothing magical about this power. To claim that words – and especially words that have been invented to anathematize certain groups – are "just words" is naive at best and probably disingenuous.
It's very interesting that from my list of 3 dozen of or so ethnic insults, only this one has generated so much discussion, while not deserving more than a single comment. Is it really about the usage of the word cunt, or is it simply about the American pride of not liking to be put down, but only putting others down? Frankly, I'm not sure and I don't give a fuck.
Those are English words and they're part of your culture, and you can't simply erase them from your language just to feel good about yourselves. And yes, I do believe that they're "just words" and not "sticks and stones", despite all your attempts to endow them with magical powers.
And speaking of ethnicity, it is defined has a group of people sharing not just racial characteristics, but also national, linguistic, religious and cultural traits. Americans possess 4 out of 5, so while imperfect, this word describes them just as fine as it does Germans or the French. No country is completely homogeneous in those areas, so if you want to be anal about it (as I'm sure many of you are), ethnicity has no practical application, which is of course nonsense. The same problem occurs with religion and race. Jews routinely refer to themselves as a race of people. Are they wrong? Only if you insist on boxing your world.
"...given the paucity of ethnic slurs for Americans, I think we should take whatever we can."
The existence of ethnic slurs is a bad thing. A paucity of ethnic slurs is not a problem to be fixed, it's a cause for celebration. Rather than trying to come up with more slurs, I think we should be trying to bury the ones we already have.
So wait--this bothers a lot of people on Wordie, but gaytarded doesn't? Or has no one noticed that one yet? Rfrog, you're welcome to use Wordie however you want (within reason, of course), but honestly, I'm with she--these words are insipid and obnoxious to me. And yes, I don't have to read them if they bother me, so I'll remember to avoid your comments/lists from now on. Unfortunately, that's getting to be routine.
Well, r.frog and I differ in that I do think it's particularly vicious, for just the reasons John states: the worst thing you call a man is a woman? Please. That's vicious to basically anyone who's human.
Also, the paucity of ethnic slurs for citizens of the United States could be because there isn't one ethnicity in this country, but hundreds. If you want to insult Americans by using a term based on the word "American," that's insulting a nationality, even if it wasn't one's intention to do so. And it's just as offensive as nigger or kike or any other term that's meant to denigrate an entire group--in this case a group of 300 million people. Maybe that's what makes it "cool" to some people.
Anyway, I'll shut up and go back to making lists now. Have fun and play nice, everyone. :)
I think it makes a lot of sense to speak of national slurs--and people speak of religious prejudice, or intolerance, all the time. That's an interesting idea and something worth talking about, in my opinion--different kinds of bias.
I never buy the "only words" argument, and I think this is an odd forum in which to espouse it. People here place a high value on words and their power.
I would argue there's nothing clever about this sort of name-calling, as it's something we were all capable of in grade school. (I have no real problem with cunt, but I don't like the sound of it at all. In the United States, its meaning hasn't been watered down; it's one of those words that still sounds particularly awful when you mean it.)
Muslims experience racial prejudice for being or appearing Middle Eastern. Would you call Bible-thumper an "ethnic" slur?
Honestly, runumeratedfrog, this entire list strikes me as tasteless and childish. I don't believe it's wrong; I won't say that you shouldn't be able to, only: You may enjoy collecting words like "nigress," but don't expect many people here to share your enthusiasm. These are insipid words.
I didn't invent this word, although I wish I could take the credit. No, I don't think I'm being particularly cute using it, but at the same time I do think it's a pretty clever pun worthy of being more popular. And while I understand that some people may have an kneejerk reaction to it, ultimately it's only a word. It's surely much better than yank (ambiguous) or amoronican (childish). Do you have anything better?
Being American may not be an ethnicity technically, but it makes little sense to speak of a national slur. Sometimes certain words take on a non-literal meaning, because that's their closest approximation. That's why Muslims complain of racial prejudice, even though Islam clearly isn't a race. Similarly, Americans are an ethnicity not unlike Poles or Germans, for all practical purposes.
renumerated was not here when we had problems with c***, so I just want to tell hir that this word made (and makes) us malcontent (it's the right term). To me, an Italian extinct lagomorph, it's not worse than fagg*t, or bi*ch, or f*ck. But maybe an American is more offended by it - and not because of the "Ameri-" part. Having said that: let's just go and have a 42 below at the Verbal Arms.
Taking a word that's offensive to women and saying it makes a slur directed at men more vicious is doubly offensive to women. It implies that the worst thing you can do to a man is say he's a woman.
I'm tired of the c-word being bandied about. Maybe you think you're being cute or daring, but really, it's boring. I know "cunt" has different tones in different parts of the world. I spent a long night drinking with some English guys, back when I used to do that, and realized we'd become friends when they started calling me one. But in general, to American ears, it sounds way harsh. Slam Americans as much as you want, I don't give a shit, but I'd just as soon not see all these "cunts" popping up around here.
As to the American part, perhaps the paucity of ethnic slurs for Americans has to do with the fact that American isn't an ethnicity. Or because a lot of people think "American" is slur enough.
Well, calling a woman a cunt is definitely very offensive, but is it particularly vicious? I don't think so. And given the paucity of ethnic slurs for Americans, I think we should take whatever we can.