jacob.baltuch at jacob.baltuch at
Wed Mar 12 02:25:44 UTC 1997

George Thompson wrote:

>I myself wonder about the "agenda" of people who are more disturbed by
>political correctness than they are by what Dominique Thillaud eloquently
>calls "nazionalism".  It's a matter of personal preference, I guess.

I frankly do not think there's any agenda on either side. As usual
the two sides are on two different wavelengths and frankly I think
it's hopeless. One side doesn't understand how it is possible that
one is so hung up on a word that is used w/o meaning any harm. The
other side doesn't see how they can't see that it has connotations
which offend (whether they are meant or not)

>We all know that languages change [*even* one's own, by the way], and
>sometimes for poltiical reasons.  American English has not suffered, as far
>as I can see, from the disappearance of the "semantically inoffensive" word
>"Negro" but I haven't heard or seen anyone use it, except quotatively, in a
>very long time.

Well US society is a very diverse one and the feelings of various
communities seem to be taken into account (at least officially).

It's not the same everywhere, especially in more homogeneous societies.

Here's a Belgian experience:

In French the word "juif" is sometimes used as a substitute for
"cheap", as in "quel juif celui-la!". Many users of that word
really do not mean any harm. I could *never* convince a person
who had used that term in front of me (regarding a 3rd person
who was not even Jewish) that I was genuinely hurt by her using
that term. And really she *did* mean nothing by it. And knowing
her rather well, I *knew* she was the last person who would be
afflicted with that kind of thing. I tried to give her a history
lesson, etc. It just didn't click.

And to be fair the case with IG is not exactly parallel with that
of "juif" (used as an adjective) or "nigger", since it doesn't contain
any derogatory term to anyone really. The "resonances" (to use Dominik's
word) of that term are more subtle and harder to perceive. Plus,
it *does* seem to be true that IE *is* much more awkward in German
than IG. That is not a cop out. I was told that even
the Dutch, who have pretty much abandoned "indogermaanse" for
"indoeuropese", still often use "Indogermanen" because "Indoeuropeërs"
sounds so awkward.

Of course there's plenty of pretty offensive stuff I could come up with
with great metrical properties so just because a word is prettier
doesn't mean it should necessarily be used! But if one doesn't *sense* the
resonances of that word (and most German Indoeuropeanists *would*
be desensitized to it, since they'd say it, hear it, or read it one 100
times a day), one will of course wonder "Why should I have to drop a perfectly
good word for one that sounds so awful just because of some imaginary
offense that some guy who's trying to tell me what do says it implies"

Given that it's hopeless, I think we might, like Lars Martin Fosse said,
give it new ideological content or the old ideological content a new life
by arguing so much about it.

In the worst case it could generate defensive feelings among Germans
who watch this thread go by. I mean, nobody likes to be told what they
should do. If on top, it is all perceived as gratuitous German bashing,
the term might acquire a new value that nobody wants to see it acquire.

Basically, I guess what I'm saying is, "Oh, forget it!", and to say this,
I'm adding another long post to the thread from hell.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list