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Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?

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Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 01 - 04:12 PM
MMario 11 Apr 01 - 04:15 PM
jeffp 11 Apr 01 - 04:15 PM
guinnesschik 11 Apr 01 - 04:18 PM
catspaw49 11 Apr 01 - 04:20 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 01 - 04:21 PM
MMario 11 Apr 01 - 04:22 PM
Bert 11 Apr 01 - 04:25 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 01 - 04:27 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 01 - 04:29 PM
Little Hawk 11 Apr 01 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Tedham Porterhouse 11 Apr 01 - 05:46 PM
catspaw49 11 Apr 01 - 06:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Apr 01 - 06:57 PM
Irish sergeant 11 Apr 01 - 07:14 PM
Murray MacLeod 11 Apr 01 - 08:39 PM
Deni 12 Apr 01 - 12:28 AM
Sourdough 12 Apr 01 - 02:17 AM
GUEST,JTT 12 Apr 01 - 03:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Apr 01 - 04:04 AM
SeanM 12 Apr 01 - 04:28 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Apr 01 - 08:50 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Apr 01 - 09:03 AM
Gary T 12 Apr 01 - 09:40 AM
Kim C 12 Apr 01 - 09:43 AM
Mrrzy 12 Apr 01 - 10:15 AM
MMario 12 Apr 01 - 10:40 AM
Clinton Hammond 12 Apr 01 - 04:16 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 12 Apr 01 - 05:12 PM
Clinton Hammond 12 Apr 01 - 05:36 PM
Clinton Hammond 12 Apr 01 - 05:41 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 12 Apr 01 - 05:49 PM
Ebbie 12 Apr 01 - 06:06 PM
Bedubya 12 Apr 01 - 06:16 PM
vindelis 12 Apr 01 - 07:57 PM
DougR 12 Apr 01 - 08:07 PM
Mark Cohen 12 Apr 01 - 08:27 PM
Clinton Hammond 13 Apr 01 - 10:49 AM
Tedham Porterhouse 13 Apr 01 - 11:41 AM
Mrs.Duck 13 Apr 01 - 12:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Apr 01 - 05:46 PM
Bert 13 Apr 01 - 06:01 PM
DougR 13 Apr 01 - 07:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Apr 01 - 08:11 PM
John Routledge 13 Apr 01 - 08:26 PM
NH Dave 14 Apr 01 - 12:34 AM
Amos 14 Apr 01 - 12:55 AM
Peg 14 Apr 01 - 02:04 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Apr 01 - 07:35 AM
Clinton Hammond 14 Apr 01 - 09:44 AM
Peg 14 Apr 01 - 10:34 AM
Amos 14 Apr 01 - 11:36 AM
Peg 14 Apr 01 - 11:45 AM
Gary T 14 Apr 01 - 05:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Apr 01 - 07:25 PM
Haruo 14 Apr 01 - 08:39 PM
Amos 15 Apr 01 - 01:41 PM
Sourdough 15 Apr 01 - 03:11 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 15 Apr 01 - 03:37 PM
Amos 15 Apr 01 - 03:44 PM
Amos 15 Apr 01 - 03:51 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 15 Apr 01 - 04:00 PM
Haruo 15 Apr 01 - 09:29 PM
GUEST,Crazy Eddie 16 Apr 01 - 06:59 AM
Tedham Porterhouse 16 Apr 01 - 09:25 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Apr 01 - 11:41 AM
Tedham Porterhouse 16 Apr 01 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,vicarsbike 16 Apr 01 - 01:25 PM
Clinton Hammond 16 Apr 01 - 01:28 PM
mousethief 16 Apr 01 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,vicarsbike 16 Apr 01 - 01:40 PM
mousethief 16 Apr 01 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,vicarsbike 16 Apr 01 - 01:46 PM
mousethief 16 Apr 01 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,vicarsbike 16 Apr 01 - 01:50 PM
mousethief 16 Apr 01 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,vicarsbike 16 Apr 01 - 01:57 PM
mousethief 16 Apr 01 - 01:59 PM
Sourdough 16 Apr 01 - 01:59 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Apr 01 - 02:05 PM
Gary T 16 Apr 01 - 03:09 PM
mousethief 16 Apr 01 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Ole Bull 16 Apr 01 - 04:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Apr 01 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 16 Apr 01 - 05:15 PM
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McGrath of Harlow 16 Apr 01 - 07:02 PM
Gary T 16 Apr 01 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 16 Apr 01 - 08:57 PM
GUEST,Ole Bull 16 Apr 01 - 10:42 PM
Jarlo 17 Apr 01 - 12:22 PM
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Murray MacLeod 17 Apr 01 - 06:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Apr 01 - 08:13 PM
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Subject: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:12 PM

I am in the process of learning Jimmy Rodgers' song "Peach Picking Time in Georgia", and will perform it this Friday. (Yeah, Scottish accent and all).

Anyway, my question is, will a (liberal) American audience be offended by hearing the word "piccaninnies " in the first line of the last verse ?

"When the piccaninnies pick the cotton, I'll pick a wedding ring"

My gut feeling is that I should change it to "cotton-pickers". But I have been wrong before ...........

Murray


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: MMario
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:15 PM

probably.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: jeffp
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:15 PM

I suspect many people will be offended by the term "pickaninny." I believe it is generally considered to be in the same realm as the N-word. Accordingly, I would recommend the change.

jeffp


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: guinnesschik
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:18 PM

Go with your gut feeling...I do believe Willie Nelson says "cotton-pickers" too.

Great song; enjoy it!


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:20 PM

Oh no Murray, it'll be fine as long as you also throw in a few "jungle bunnies" and "spearchuckers" here and there............and providing of course that you're playing for a Klan rally...................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:21 PM

If it's good enough for Willie, it's good enough for me. (Except when it comes to guitar maintenance .......)

Murray


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: MMario
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:22 PM

BTW - Murray - do you have the dots? If you do, can you scan and e-mail them to me? It's one of the "missing tunes" and the DT has several parodies set to it as well.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Bert
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:25 PM

MMario, I think I've got the tadpoles somewhere, I'll take a look.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:27 PM

Spaw, you must remember that I do not have a built-in, congenital, inherited, instinctive or whatever, filter for these niceties. That is why I ask people who do know. And I did say "liberal" audience, which would rule out the KKK. Oe does "liberal" mean something else that I should know about?

Murray


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 04:29 PM

I don't have the dots, Mmario, but I can do the chords if you need them. Maybe bert will help on both.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 05:32 PM

"Piccaninnies" is definitely verboten. "Papooses", however, still seems to be acceptable in most quarters at this point, oddly enough...perhaps because it stems from (or is) an actual Native American word...like "wigwam", and a host of others.

I have always wondered if other groups of people than we caucasians have come up with cute names for our babies? I know that Asians sometimes have referred to us (in their languages) as "round-eyes". Is that pejorative? Not to me. Apaches referred to us as "white-eyes". The Lakota referred to us as "wasichus", which essentially meant much the same thing. I figure there's a nice way and a nasty way to say it, but you can't pick that up so easily off the printed page.

Anyway, better not sing "piccaninnies", mate!

- LH


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 05:46 PM

When Willie Nelson sang "Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia" for the Jimmie Rodgers tribute album, we changed the line to "when the pickers have picked the cotton."


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 06:45 PM

I know Murray.....I was just making a poor joke at your expense, but I appreciate the problem. something to consider is talking to your audience a bit and explaining what you're doing. Songs reflect their times and times have changed, but it shouldn't hurt anyone to know that "the truth is 'A' and hopefully we have grown and we now will sing 'B'".....but if songs are also history, then talk about the truth of what was. Sure its not acceptable today, but revisionist history is equally unacceptable.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 06:57 PM

My dictionary says it's probably from a spanish woerd "pequeno", meaning a small child.

When I was growing up and where I was growing up, it was a word that might be used for any toddler. It's a pretty word, pity it's been twisted and used as a vehicle for racists, but that's how it goes. Maybe if white people started using it for their own children it could get rehabilitated.

But better stick with the Willie Nelson version. (Which actually makes for better word play, fortunately.)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 07:14 PM

In this country, meaning the U.S., Murray the term is considered highly offensive. I expect that a liberal audience would tend to rake you over the coals. I run in to this at re-enactment (I am an American Civil War re-enactor) You might get by if you explain the historical context. Unfortunately, people in this country want to toss historical accuracy out the window in the name of political correctness. Do what thou will but be prepared for the reaction. Not everyone is intelligent enough to know the difference between historical context and racism. Good luck. Kindest reguards, NEil


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Apr 01 - 08:39 PM

I am glad to have my instincts confirmed. I just think it is a really good song, with a really neat fingerpicking guitar accompaniment. I hate it when good songs become unacceptable because of an unfortunate choice of terminology, but I see no harm in creative editing . Pity we couldn't do the same thing with whaling songs, but IMHO they are beyond redemption ...............

Murray


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Deni
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 12:28 AM

I remember telling my son I had a doll called a piccanninny, when I was a child. He was shocked as only a teenager could be about his mother's filthy language. I bow to his superior knowledge and the term will never pass my lips again, but I loved that doll and it is a nice word...and in the right hands /voice wouldn't be offensive at all.

I agree with McGrath of Harlow...


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Sourdough
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 02:17 AM

Origin of pickaninny?

McGrath of Harlow's dictionary confirms my memory. In the Creole languauge of Suriname (with the imaginative name of Taki-Taki) "piquine" means small and Nino (pronounced "Ninyo" is a small child (I don't recall that there is a female form) so the phrase "piqine ninos" is heard quite frequently on the streets of Paramaribo. It is likely that piquine nino is a common Creole phrase throughout the Caribean.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 03:12 AM

Wonder if it's related to "picayune".

Language is a trap. I came across two black children wandering around a shop in America looking worried, and said (as I would in Ireland) "Have you lost your mammy, loves?" They glared at me and stormed off.

It was only later that I discovered that "mammy", a perfectly ordinary and friendly word for one's mother in Ireland, has racist connotations in America.

I still occasionally forget and use it to Americans, but I try not to.

If the word's going to hurt people and remind them of bad times, I'd steer clear of it. When *they* want to revive the word and rehabilitate it, that's time to start using it.

We call children sprogs and snappers in Ireland. And don't you call them kids in America?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 04:04 AM

I wouldn't use it myself - for the same reason as I have changed the n-word in some shanties I do. Still puzzles me though - why these terms for any ethnic group apart from white anglo-saxon are frowned upon. It seems to be perfectly acceptable for black comedians to use the terms honky, spook etc. in a derogatory fasion but sing piccaninnie in an innocent historic context and the liberals will come down on you like a ton of bricks.

Don't get me wrong - I am not blaming the ethnic groups themselves. It is the stupidity of some of the people who make the laws that is in question. I know black, asian, chinese and many other people who are as annoyed as me at political correctness gone wrong. I wonder at times if it is the racist faction who dream up these 'rules' to get non-racists that annoyed that they will sympathise with them. Perhaps I am getting too cynical in my old age:-)

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: SeanM
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 04:28 AM

Whaling songs non-pc? Sheesh... what is the world coming to?

As much as I do support the history vs. entertainment angle, if we throw out whaling songs and shanties used on whalers, then there go Doerflinger, Hugill and about 90% of the folkies I know.

Then again, I also know environmental activists who sing "Old Maui", "The Balaena" (sp?), "New Bedford Whalers" (Rant'n'Roar) and other sea gems. I'll have to ask them if they feel it's incorrect, but I'd imagine that for them, the shanties represent a golden period of the seafaring world, and that the songs themselves are not offensive - merely the overzealous whaling nearly wiping the animals off the earth...

I DO understand the racial issues though. Group I sing with on occasions did a cover of "In the Jailhouse Now". The lyrics we started with were from the Memphis Jug Band version, with the line "'stead of him stayin' at home, leavin' those white folks business alone"... you can bet THAT one changed fast... we decided to use "rich". THEM you can make fun of...

M


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 08:50 AM

Nice touch, Sean. I like the replacement of white with rich - and I guess the converse (ie. black/poor) would work in similar circumstances. When you think about when the songs were written it was probably a good rule of thumb that the rich folks were white and the poor folks black. Not much better in some places now I guess but at least we are working at fixing it!

I will certainly remember the point though and see if I can come up with any other similar substitutions when I come across other contentious wordings. Picanininnies - poor folks kids for instance? Scans anyway!

Thanks again

DtG


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 09:03 AM

BTW - just remembered that when I was in Antigua a year or so back I was wandering along the lanes and by-ways as is my want when a truck full of black youths passed. One of them called out "Hey - White Nigger!"

I was not sure whether to feel insulted or not and if so why. I did not feel particularly threatened so I ignored it. It was only some weeks later I began to wonder if they were referring to the fact I was walking and looking particularly ill-kept, as is also my want. Perhaps it was a reference to me looking poor?

Anyone know?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Gary T
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 09:40 AM

While in Ocha Rios, Jamaica, a couple weeks ago we had a quick meal in a fast food restaurant called the Islander Grill. Up on the package meal menu board, illustrated in full color, was the "Pickney Meal," which included a bag of M&M's candy. Can't remember if it had a toy like the McDonald's Happy Meal. "Pickney" was obviously the Jamaican equivalent of the American "kid." I imagine Jamaicans who come to the U.S. soon learn not to use the word.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Kim C
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 09:43 AM

Some folks like to call children "monkeys" and that gets em in trouble too. -sigh-


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 10:15 AM

Rugrats. Curtain-climbers. (When the rugrats have picked the cotton doesn't flow like pickers or cotton-pickers...)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: MMario
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 10:40 AM

of course you will still run into people who will rake you over the coals for racism if you substitute "rich" for white and "poor" for black - even if it is the only logical substitution that will preserve the song.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 04:16 PM

This is the first time I've ever even heard the word Piccaninnies... and regardless of it's possible slur connotation, it's a wonderful word to say... it rolls off the tongue in a fantastic way... full of alliteration and assonance... Why ever would you NOT want to say it?

If you're not using the word to be racist, what's the problem? The word itself isn't racist.. it's just a word... Like whitey, or honkey, or cracker, they're just words... It's not the words that are the problem... it's the naïve, bigoted, in-bred, asshole who's using such words to try to hurt someone that's the problem...

Blaming the words and punishing them is like blaming the matches when the kid burns down the house... or blaming the gun when drive-by's occure....


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 05:12 PM

No, Clinton, you are very wrong. Words are a problem. The word "picaninnie" in the United States was used to describe young slaves. In the post-slavery era, it became a derisive term for black children.

Jimmie Rodgers used the term in a song about 70 years ago, in a time when blacks and whites in the Southern U.S. lived in segregation. Rodgers' use of the term was reflective of his times and his society. What was acceptable then is not necessarily so today.

Today, only a racist would use the term in a non-academic discussion (or song). There are other words like that, I assume that I don't need to list them for you.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 05:36 PM

No see... I'd say you're wrong Tedham... there are no bad words ever!


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 05:41 PM

An aside...

Can we please stop using the word 'racist'... it's a falacy in and of itself... the word for someone who hates someone else because of their skine tone, or ethinc back ground is BIGOT... RACE-ism doen't exist... there is only ONE race of upright walking, tool using, language spouting, cave painting homonid on this planet... We're all the same race... Otherwise we wouldn't be able to breed together...(waiting for someone to mention cats and rabbits but...)

It's just one of those language foibles that bugs me... like people who say "irrergardless"... there's no such word...


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 05:49 PM

No bad words Clinton? Words such as 'nigger,' 'kike,' 'spic,' 'chink,'etc. are examples of words whose common usage is meant to convey hatred and subjugation.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Ebbie
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 06:06 PM

Clinton, I finally agree with you! 'Bigot' covers it all. Thank you.

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Bedubya
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 06:16 PM

When you run into a fellow musician you haven't seen in a while, is it OK to ask him, "Hey man! Ya been pickin' any?"?

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: vindelis
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 07:57 PM

Well you learn something new every day. I will have to add this to my list of words and terms not to be used in the 'UK' way, if I ever visit the United States.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: DougR
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 08:07 PM

We had a governor impeached, here in Arizona, in the early 90s, and the fact that he referred to young Black children as "pikninnies" at a news conference certainly played a part in his downfall.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 08:27 PM

Clinton, I more or less agree that the word "bigot" is preferable to "racist" (or "racialist" as it's said across the pond). However, it is a species, not a race, which is characterized by the ability of its members to breed with one another. Races are distinctive groups within species, and by definition their members can interbreed. Because of such interbreeding, the "edges" of those races are very blurry (most noticeably here in Hawaii), but just because some things are gray doesn't mean there is no such thing as black or white. There are biological differences between human races; as a doctor, I see that all the time. For example, the predilection of sickle cell disease for Africans, of alpha thalassemia for Southern Asians, and of cystic fibrosis for Northern Europeans.

Be that as it may, however, your point is well taken. And I hasten to add, lest I be misunderstood, that I do not include mental ability among the characteristics that show a racial distribution.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 10:49 AM

tedham...

Those are exactly the sort of words I'm talking about... There's nothing wrong with those words in and of themselves... They are JUST words... It's not the words we have to be afraid of...

It's the bigoted, low-brow, asshole USING them to try to hurt that is the problem...

Why you cut yourself, the blood is not the problem... the problem is the HOLE the blood is coming out of...

MarkC... It's been my education that race denotes genetic differences and that the genetic differences between people from different locals are insignificant if they exist at all... We are all Homo-sapien... that's our race...

But when has education ever been consistent eh?

;-)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 11:41 AM

Clinton, your implication is that you can use such words with impunity if you are not bigoted.

I think not. In the context of our times, the use of such terms is the province of racists. And that's mnot necessarily the same as Jimmie Rodgers or Huck Finn using such words in the context of their times.

(Judging from your postings, I gather you think that "racist" is itself a bad word, but not the words of racists.)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 12:03 PM

The problem is Clinton where do you draw the line? If a word has connotations for some people then it will cause offence no matter how innocently it is used. Words DO have power and that power has been abused many times and if the get out is to say "I didn't mean it in a racist way" it opens too many doors!


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 05:46 PM

The trouble with words like that is when they are used as weapons. Essentially Clinton's right, the posion doesn't lie in the word itself, it lies in the way they are used.

In the Irish context, for example, "Taig" is a word used by bigotted loyalists and such to describe Catholic Irish. Used like that it's a label of hate.

The word "Taig" actually means poet. I'd be proud to be referred to as such. It's a very honourable label. But not when it's used as a weapon.

(But when you get a situation where people are supposed to stop using words they use without any offensive intent, like Jamaicans and "pickney", just because some bigots have used similar words, that's absurd.)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Bert
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 06:01 PM

Here's a song that uses the word to refer to a blue eyed baby, presumably white.

Go to sleep my baby
Close your pretty blue eyes
angels are above you
looking at you dearie from the skies
Great big moon a shining
Stars begin to peep
time for litte pickaninnies
to go to sleep

If you realy want to sing "picaninnies" you could perhaps sing this song first with an explanation of the origins of the word.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: DougR
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 07:19 PM

Interesting point, Bert. I wonder if the baby in the song referred to is White. Sure the baby has blue eyes, but I never heard White children referred to as Pickaninies, and when I was a youngster in Texas, it was a commonly used word.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 08:11 PM

You may not have Doug, but I know that I have. Texas is a big place, but it's not the whole world. Nor is the United States.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: John Routledge
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 08:26 PM

The word Piccaninnies was used in UK schools in the 50's to describe young black children in America who were drawn wearing UK style clothes in an attempt to promote racial harmony. Kick the Brits for this as well as it certainly did not work - Pre-supposing kicking Brits is nowadays the only PC verbal abuse allowed. Cheers GB


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: NH Dave
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 12:34 AM

Mark, it is my understanding that Sickle Cell and Thalassic Anemias are aquired, congenital, diseases that were passed on because they gave those afflicted from the disease some protection from Malaria. Sickle cell would kill you eventually, but it would allow you to live long enough to have children with the trait, while Malaria was an equal opportunity killer. For this reason they are more apt to be found in people from warm or tropical areas, like Africa, Italy and Greece, and South East Asia and the Pacific Islands.

What you might have been better off using as an example would be the distribution/frequencies of blood types, across racial lines, where I understand that there are extreme skewing of the relative distribution of various blood types from one "race" to another.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 12:55 AM

Try holding your palm up in front of your mouth and reciting "The terrible power of Words!!" a few times. Then take a look, see if you spilled any blood. Clinton is profoundly correct that it is never the sound, nor the phonemes, nor the morphemes. The construction of a vulnerability to certain meanings, and dramatizing that vulnerability to the point where you get all stirred up if anyone dares to remember that such meanings ever exist is an extreme form of Grundyism, a kind of mental censorship which tries to assert that freedom of thought should be curtailed because it leads to bad behaviour. This is an extremely risky and stupid notion.

No-one has ever been hurt by hearing the word pickaninny. It may be true that the kinds of decisions and actions that are associated witht he people who promulgated its use were harmful or efvil actions or decisions. But that is not the same thing as being harmed by the label. I have been called an ofay motherfucvker, asd well as a commie pinko faggot bastard in my time. The only part of it that hurt was when the fat cop backhanded me across the mouth.

In my personal opinion the obsessive concern about the "harm" of words as words is juvenile and neurotic, like a preteenager flinching and going "Eeeeeeew" when someone mentions conception, or a uterus, or a penis in their presence. They act as though the remindment of the reality was offensive, not to mention the reality itself. It's an immature attitude, and making a dramatic stance of it is below the dighnity and intelligence of most pickaninnies I have met. A


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Peg
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 02:04 AM

A bigot is a bigot. And bigots use words to hurt. To hide behind the words and say it's not words, it's the "feeling" behnd the words, is to act in a very cowardly fashion, to disown responsibility for one's words.

A bigot is a bigot. And bigots use words to hurt. Nigger, faggot, kike, dyke, wop, mick, chink, gook, trailer trash, femi-Nazi, it's all pretty much the same...


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 07:35 AM

They can also use do-gooder, bleeding heart, man, woman, foreigner, gay, dog, cow, suit, Jew, Christian, Muslim...

Any word can be used as a weapon, if someone is that way inclined. Just think back to your schooldays, if you still can. Every time a useful word is abandoned because it is used as a weapon, that is a forced retreat and a small victory for bigotry. In any war there is likely to be a time when retreat is appropriate, and there are words that I am all in favour of pensioning off (such as "moron") - but this kind of thing should be recognised as a retreat, and we should try to protect the language from this kind of erosion.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 09:44 AM

" to disown responsibility for one's words. "

Exactily wrong Peg... It's to take responsibility for ones words! To know what you're saying and for what reasons...

I have nothig agains people who make the consious decision to stop using words like are mentioned above... What I have a problem with is Language Nazis who think they can tell ME what words I can and cannot use...

Make you your mind for yourslf, and leave me to do the same... If we disagree... well... good... What a boring-ass, PC, white-bread-and-cracker world it'd be if everybody agreed all the time!

Tedham... I don't think that racist is a BAD word... I think it's an inaccurate word... To me, the trem racist has no meaning because as I said, we're all one race... I thing the word bigot is a better word to use to describe the kind of person who judges on the basis of skin tone and ethnic background... But that's just me...


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Peg
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 10:34 AM

Clinton; I take it you are admitting you're a bigot?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 11:36 AM

Now kids, stop calling names!!:>)

Peg is pointing at an important point -- sensitivity in the use of symbols if you are dealing with people whose scars are likely to be stirred up by them is a good thing, up to a point, a kindness to fellow humans. But it is a voluntary exercise of good will and an individual choice.

But more generally, I think it is important to realize that having "buttons" based on past pain that get stirred up by the use of symbols is not a human virtue -- it is a dysfunction of automatic association, asserting that to some degree the symbol is equal to its past context, which it obviously is not. Beliving that "now" is the same as "then" is pretty much the core mechasnism of stupidness and irrationality in humans.

So I would think that the over-sensitivity and dramatization that motivastes the impulse to "ban" or suppress certain symbols is an unhealthy one, and should be discouraged. What should be promoted is the real use of understanding and compassion.

A


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Peg
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 11:45 AM

well said, Amos.

I am a professional writer and very much against censorship of language because of who it might offend, but I am talking in a literary or critical context...

Someone's right to use offensive racial or sexist slurs in conversation stops at the point where they seem to be spewing hatred...whether at the person or persons who resemble their epithets (the niggers, faggots or gooks--sorry, trying to make a point here), or at those who, being compassionate and fair-minded human beings (not to mention mature and socially-adept human beings who realize that our differences are nothing to be afraid of), take offense that said bigot is promulgating hatred...not to mention ignorance.

Freedom of speech is a privilege, not a right. With privilege comes responsibility.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Gary T
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 05:02 PM

Nice theoretical philosophy, folks, but I can't buy it. I know a fellow who grew up in a time and place where "nigger" was used as an everyday, casual, non-pejorative word, much as we might use "Black" or "African-American" today. He still doesn't see anything wrong with the word as HE means it, and if not for social pressure, would likely call Blacks, very lovingly, "niggers." To argue that this would be just fine because he means absolutely nothing negative by it (which is what I hear being said) strikes me as quite out of touch with reality, and rather oblivious to the feelings of black folks.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 07:25 PM

If I was black, which I'm not, I think I probably would use the word "nigger", and feel entitled to do so - but that wouldn't mean I wouldn't object strongly to white people feeling entitled to use it.

In the same way I'm happy with terms like Paddy and Mick when used among Irish people, but feel irritated when they are used casually by non-Irish. (And I'm not equating the expressions in terms of their power to hurt or the background that give them that piower - I'm just giving another example of how neat symmetry in these things doesn't work.)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Haruo
Date: 14 Apr 01 - 08:39 PM

piccaninny is offensive in English for a lot of people, but pikanini is perfectly acceptable, normal Tok Pisin (and probably a lot of other pidgins); it's derived from a Portuguese cognate of Spanish pequeño, lots of widespread pidgin/creole words are of Portuguese origin.

In spite of what Little Hawk said, I think a lot of the same people who find "squaw" offensive would feel the same way about "papoose". And, like piccaninny, and squaw, "siwash" is perceived as racist by a lot of First Nations folk in English, though with the first vowel pronounced "ah" it's perfectly good Chinook Wawa aka Jargon. (It's ultimately from French sauvage, so the etymology is legitimately offensive.)

Liland

PS Hoping to get online at home next week or two, be here more often.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 01:41 PM

Finding words offensive is an exercise in shallowness and short-sighted thought. Finding intentions unacceptable is closer to the core issue.

A


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Sourdough
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 03:11 PM

But Amos, Since we live in a complex society in which our words have the potential to go from our mouths (or our fingertips) tens of thousands of ears, aren't we asking a lot for these people to judge intentions. It seems it would just be good manners not to run the risk of offending unless we have a good reason to.

This is not specifically for Amos but for those who insist that words are symbols and can't hurt in themselves. "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me". Words are symbols but we live by symbols. Most of our communication is done by symbols, words, images, graphics. A racial slur is no less a symbol than a swastika. If I see a sixteen year old boy wearing a swastika proudly on an armband, it is hard to remember that since he was born forty years after the death of Hitler, he might have no idea of the meaning of that symbol to many people. On the other hand, wouldn't you agree that he had a responsibility to be aware of the meaning of a symbol before he broadcast it on his body?

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 03:37 PM

Hitler and his Nazi thugs came to power in Germany in 1933. From the get-go their words were viciously anti-Semitc. Some Jews took that as a warning and fled Germany in the thirties.

Virtually all who stayed were exterminated in the Holocaust.

Should they have left too? Not by some of the logic I've read in this thread. After all, in those days it was just words (and a few broken windows), and as Clinton and some others here say, words themselves are not bad.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 03:44 PM

Obviously if you want your intentions to be correctly understood, you'll learn the language. If you intend to stir people up, you have to learn their buttons. The equation would be useless,though, if they were able to notice the difference between symbols and reality. We don't live by symbols. We just think we do. What we live by is the actual reality around us.

That said, obviously too we communicate a lot, using all kinds of methods, including words, and choosing your words and symbols is part of the resposnsibility of the speaker. If your exemplary boy was a budding scholar of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, he might be carrying his swastika for a totally different reason than you assume. If you're going to judge your real environment by a symbol system, you have the responsibility of doing sanity checks once in a while to make sure you are still aligning symbols with the right referents.

Look, suppose I get the notion going among a certain populace that high boots are symbolic of the SS. And tight red dresses are representative of loose-moralled women. Do I therefore have the right to assume, if I wander through London and see a young secretary in a short tight red dress with high boots on, that she is a Nazi prostitute? Symbols are only really reliable if they are agreed-upon. That's why we have dictionaries.

Knee-jerk reactions and emotional hypersensitivity which assert inaccurate intentions on all users of a symbol because of the form of the symbol is just institutionalized stupidity. If the political correctitude crowd had their way, old poeple would be chronologically gifted, fat people would be gravitically challenged, and stupid people would be "conceptually differently abled". This is just sociological hog-slop born from an inability to stand up to the normal ebb and flow of human intercourse. Why instituionalize and promote such an inability?

A


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 03:51 PM

Tedham:

Vicious anti-semitic oratory is a very different kettle of fish from the impulse to ban individual words from use in general. Defiling a whole class of people using broad national communication channels is a very different issue than whether a folksinger should be allowed to sing "Why do they call me Snowball?" or "Doan You Cry Mah Honey" wiothout having brickbats slung about.

A


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 04:00 PM

Amos,

When I see someone wearing a cross, I make an assumption that the person is a Christian, or at least that Christianity has some signifigance to them.

When I see someone wearing a Mogen David (Star of David), I make an assumption that the person is Jewish, or at least that Judaism has some signifigance to them.

And when I see someone wearing a swastika armband, or with a sawstika tattoo, I assume that the person is a neo-Nazi.

Your "budding scholar of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics" would probably be smart enough to know what the swastika has come to represent in the past seventy years and would not be displaying it like that.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Haruo
Date: 15 Apr 01 - 09:29 PM

Not necessarily. Probably, but not necessarily. The swastika is still alive as a religious symbol, turned both directions with different implications, in areas like Bhutan and Tibet, where it is simply unreasonable to expect the people to give up their religious symbols because of some thugs in Europe.

Liland


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,Crazy Eddie
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 06:59 AM

Tedham Porterhouse <>

But the Swastika has been a symbol of peace and prosperity in the Hindu religion (and its precursers) for over 2 thousand years. If you see a chain of swastika symbols uver the door of a Hindu Household, will you project your view of the symbol, & assume that they are nazis, or accept their view of it?

I think Amos said it all in <>


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 09:25 AM

I know many Hindus. Some are friends whose homes I've visited. While the swastika may be symbolic in their religion, I've never seen any Hindus, of those I know or of the ones I see, wearing swastikas the way that Nazis or neo-Nazis do.

When I see a someone in punk regalia with a swastika tattooed on his forhead, and I have seen that, or on an armband, I know that I'm reasonable in concluding that he is not a Hindu.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 11:41 AM

You might well be, but if you assumed he was a Nazi you'd be going beyond what the evidence actually justified.

The same way, when I see some country-music fan in England with a Stars and Bars sewn on his jacket, I'd not be entitled to make any assumption whatsoever about his or her politics or attitudes about anything apart from music.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 12:53 PM

OK, McGrath, next time I see a punker with a swastika tattooed on his forehead, I'll assume that he's not a neo-Nazi, just a kid who loves neo-Nazi music.

It seems to me that if you're going to display political symbols, swastikas or Stars & Brars, you do it with the understanding that people will assume that the political symbols you display represent your politics.

Here in the U.S., many have given up the Stars & Bars because we know that country music is not what that flag represents.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,vicarsbike
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:25 PM

completely agree with you clinton.

to me, a big part of folk music is about upholding traditions, and if we're going to go about changing the words just because it offends someone, it's defeating a part of the object.

it's things such as "political correctness" that are slowly ruining the folk industry - stick to the traditions & sod the sad poeple who feel they have to moan about some figure of speech.

i live in yorkshire, england, and we find it increasingly amusing to listen to anybody trying to be politically correct, cos it sounds rediculous & just doesn't work over here.

phil (vicarsbike productions)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:28 PM

"When I see a someone in punk regalia with a swastika tattooed on his forhead, and I have seen that, or on an armband, I know that I'm reasonable in concluding that he is not a Hindu."

Isn't that judging by apperances?

That same post though Tedham, sorta brings up what I'm on about... this issue of context... that's why I say that there are no bad words... it's the context that those words are used in... saying that market prices and falling stock queer'd the deal you were about to make is o.k. by me... it's a matter of context...

At least that's how I feel...


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:33 PM

Isn't that judging by appearances?

Sometimes appearances do, in fact, give a pretty good grounds for judgment. Who would wear an offensive symbol? Somebody who doesn't care about being offensive, at the very least. Maybe not a neo-nazi just because they're wearing a swastika, but I'd say at the very least someone antisocial and probably angry-at-the-world as well.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,vicarsbike
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:40 PM

sorry, but i'm going to be a bit of a devil's advocate here....

what makes you think that somebody dressed in that way is angry with the world?

maybe they just like the designs?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:43 PM

Yes, I suppose that's possible, Vicarsbike. It's also possible that all the airplanes in the world that are in the air will fall out of the sky at exactly 2300 GMT tomorrow.

I don't look for either to happen, however. I apply the "not bloody likely" test.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,vicarsbike
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:46 PM

sorry alex, but both are possible.

the one i speak about is probable - that's the difference


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:47 PM

As I say, neither seem to be too terribly likely to me. But I'll give you "mad at the world" if you will give me "doesn't care (or perhaps understand) if people find their appearance objectionable"

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,vicarsbike
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:50 PM

see the kids that are wearing this kind of stuff - look at their age - do they know how to be angry with the world?

and if they do, i'd find that very sad inded


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:53 PM

Have you ever talked to somebody that young who was angry with the world? I have. It is, in fact, very sad indeed.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,vicarsbike
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:57 PM

in what sense were they angry?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:59 PM

They felt they were owed something that they weren't getting, be it "respect" or a better world than ours is, or something. This is if you can actually get them to say anything besides "fuck you!". I fear most of them are hurting pretty badly -- perhaps victims of abuse at home? It breaks your heart, mate.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Sourdough
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 01:59 PM

I think that's very accurate, Mousethief. People do choose symbols for what they think they communicate. You cannot choose a symbol and decide it means what you want it to mean. That is trying to live in the Lewis Carroll world on the other side of the looking glass.

This reminds me of a story. My closest and longest time friend is a television writer who began his career in advertising. Every day, he put on his suit, tie, and wingtips and went to work on Madison Avenue. In his spare time, he wrote some scripts for childrens shows in but he earned a living as a copywriter for a major advertising agency. Despite the good money, he was not satisfied with his life.

His scripts got the attention of Muppeteer Jim Henson and he was offered a job on Sesame Street. He leaped at the opportunity.

When it was time to go to his first meeting with the other writers he looked in his wardrobe for what to wear. Clearly, in the new environment, a suit would be out of place. A suit is a symbol and it would communicate something about himself that he did not believe or want to communicate.

What he selected was a safari jacket and matching pants. When he walked into the conference room at the Childrens Television Worshop he noticed that all of the writers were wearing safari jackets. He had successfully selected the outfit that synbolically stated that he was one of them. He felt far more comfortable in those clothes than he would have in a different sort of costume. What was odd was that all of thos individualists, as a group, had selected from such a narrow range of clothing possibilities. It would seem that their communication of individuality was outward from the group rather than purely an individual statement. I think there is something to be learned from his story.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 02:05 PM

People have all kinds of reasons for doing things they know will annoy other people. The best thing is to reserve judgement in things like that.

And I suppose you could get a nazi punk, but I've never met one. If I met one with a swastika, I assume it had some other significance, until I had evidence to the contrary. Like being mad at the world - which is hardly an unusual stance for a young person. Real Nazis tend to wear suits, or posh uniforms.

My point about the Stars and Bars is that it means different things in different places. There's lots of racism or whatever you like to call it in England, but it takes different shapes and uses different symbols, and people have different hang-ups.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Gary T
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 03:09 PM

Just to set the terms straight, the "Stars and Bars" is the virtually-never-seen Confederate political flag, similar to the Stars and Stripes but with 3 broad stripes (bars) instead of 13 narrow ones. I'm sure the flag being discussed above is the Confederate battle flag.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 04:26 PM

Thank you, Gary. I had been debating making this point. The familiar star-studded blue "X" on a red background is NOT the stars-n-bars; it's the Confederate Battle Flag.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 04:30 PM

Wow! What a strange world it's become. Am I the wierd one here? I've been checking out the stuff that my 12 year old daughter downloads from Napster- the stuff that "all the kids in school listen to." Do you know this stuff? By Nas, 504 boys, DMX; "Oochie Wallie", "I Can Tell" all these hatefull and pornographic pop songs... they play them on the radio too, but they beep the f***, n******, and s***. The beeps don't change the content or the intent, it only disguises it. And you guys tell me it's offensive for a folk singer to say pickaninny. Sorry. I don't get what's going on and I find it very disturbing.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 04:38 PM

Right there - I was getting my banners in a twist. (Honest though, I really knew that.)


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 05:15 PM

There are 22 variant spellings of piccaninny in the compact OED. It seems to be a West Indian (Caribbean) derivation from Spanish (pequeno) or Portuguese (pequenino). It was originally used as just a term for a small child, and first found in English in 1657 and 1681 in that sense, and later and much later. But the term could also just mean 'little'.

OED doesn't note T. D'Urfey's song in "Don Quixote', 1696, commencing:

Dear Pickinniny, if half a Guinny,
To Love will not win ye,
I lay it here down;
We must be Thrifty,
'Twill serve to shift ye,
And I know Fifty,
Will do't for a Crown.

D'Urfey used it to mean a whore, but nothing in his song ('Pills' I, p. 283, 1719) implies she was black.

Just when blacks took it to be derogatory I can't say, but my guess would be sometime before slavery was abolished in the USA. It seems to be taken only as derogatory now.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 05:20 PM

Ole Bull, can't BOTH be offensive? Must it be one or the other?

We're discussing FOLK MUSIC because that's what this site is about. If this site were a pop or rap or rock site, I imagine we'd be discussing those songs you mention.

Somebody wanted to know if they should sing a certain song, or rather should sing a certain word. This question was raised because this is the sort of song us old folkies are wont to sing, and this is the sort of word that turns up in these songs. Nobody asked about the latest Puff Daddy song because by and large, we're folkies and blues artists and don't sing Puff Daddy songs.

That's what's going on here.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 07:02 PM

I suppose it could be argued that "half a Guinny" might have a colour reference in D'Urfey's song. (Though I don't think it'd be the right interpretation.)

A parallel to all this exists in "bambino" - when used in English, but in an Italian context, it implies an Italian baby. But outside that context, if anyone used it of a baby, it wouldn't imply the baby was Italian, just that the speaker liked to use Italian words sometimes. That's the way piccaninny has been used in countries like England, in the past anyway. I'd suspect that bert's blue eyes piccaninny song could well be English rather than American.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Gary T
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 08:29 PM

Looking at the song Bruce O. posted, the context has me thinking that the first line should be "...half a guinea," said guinea being a coin worth more than the crown (also a coin) mentioned in the last line.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 08:57 PM

'ginney' is from the Portugese 'guine', and 'guinea' seems the be the most recent of several ways to render it in English.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: GUEST,Ole Bull
Date: 16 Apr 01 - 10:42 PM

Yes Alex Mousethief, let us return to the question as originally posed by Murray. I think my answer would be "It depends"- on whether you are white or black. And what was your answer? It depends on whether you are pop or folk?


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Jarlo
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 12:22 PM

It is not likely that Murray will get a chance to explain himself if he miscommunicates to his audience to start with. If his song were written in French, he might sing a translation in order to communicate. In the same way, he may want to "translate" a word ('piccaninnies') so that the audience will understand the meaning he intends. This is not a matter of caving in to censureship. It's just communication. Modern liguistic theories model how the meaning of a word is changed based on the audience hearing the word. This is reality.

We should make a distinction between (a) not jumping to conclusions in our judgements about other people and (b) the unrealistic expectation that others will do the same. My Anthropology professor taught us to be anthropologists with people of other cultural traditions and also to be anthropologists with the bigoted people who couldn't do likewise.

BTW, historically, BVE (Black Vernacular English, as linguists call it) derives from West African Pidgin English of the 17th and 18th centuries. This was also the ancestor language of the Surinam "Taki Taki" and other west African creoles. West African Pidgin was derived from English sailor speech, which in turn was greatly influenced by the Pidgin Portuguese spoken by sailors of all nationalities in the Mediterranean Sea. 'Picayune' probably came into English from this sailor's Portuguese. 'Piccaninny' may very well have come through West Africa.


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: mousethief
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 12:32 PM

Bull, you miss my point. I'm not saying what's offensive depends on what type of music it is. I'm saying what type of music gets discussed on a website depends on what type of website it is.

As for the word, *I* wouldn't sing it, and I wouldn't suggest anybody sing it. If a black man or woman wants to sing it, that's their nevermind.

Alex


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 06:47 PM

Well, as it happens, on the night I did substitute "cotton-pickers" for the offending word. It is perhaps worth mentioning here that , if you study the words of the song, Jimmie Rogers makes great play with the word "pick" in its various connotations, and I am convinced that the only reason he used "piccaninny" was simply for alliterative word-play.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Is 'Piccaninnies' Non-PC ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Apr 01 - 08:13 PM

D'Urfey is using Guinea referring to the coin, clearly enough. But he could have been making some kind of pun too (though I don't think he was), since "a guinea" has often enough been used to mean a black person. The word refers to the West Africa, where a lot of gold came from, both metal gold and "black gold" which was a term for slaves.

In modern times the guinea wasn't a coin, but was regularly used as a measure of price, right up until decimalisation and the end of the old currency. A guinea was 21 shillings, or one pound and one shilling. (The style of currency you only get in Harry Potter these days, unfortunately.)


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