bits of dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #734

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Nov 5 17:07:09 EST 2003


Sarah wrote on much:

Otter Perry wrote:

>> A Washington, DC, councilman had to resign after using the
>> word 'niggardly' in a meeting.  Some things you can't say
>> even if they _don't_ mean what they sound like they might
>> mean -- at least in DC.
Sarah:
>The worst part is that, in effect, he had to apologise for people
>feeling offended because they were ignorant. Would this ever happen
>outside America?

I think similar things have happened in England, but can't cite
examples off-hand.

>> ODWJM - what a lot of Joneses there must be in Wales...
Sarah:
>Like Smiths in England or Nguyens in Vietnam, one gathers.

I think it's "like Singhs in England", rather than Smiths, by now.
Or else the commonest surname here is one of the Chinese ones.


[me muttering about "nig-nog"]
>> Many thanks to all who leapt forward with stuff about this.  I am left
>> wondering whether in fact the offensive word "nigger" may have had
>> overtones of "nig-nog" when it was coined, though obviously it looks
>> as if
>> it came straight from "negro".  That's one I am unlikely ever to be
>> sure of, though.
Sarah:
>Well, when it was first used in English it tended to be 'neger' or
>'neeger.' Perhaps the vowel sound changed due to the influence of
>'nig-nog.'

Thank you for that, which I didn't know.  Makes my theory sound almost
plausible.

Me again:
>> As for calling a skinny drunken girl a "scalene martlet", that is
>> asking for trouble!
Sarah:
>Because a martlet is a legless bird? Clever.

:-))

>I wish more people cursed like Captain Haddock.

So do I!

Minnow


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