Use of big, obscure words is hardly a crime against humanity | SierraSun.com
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Use of big, obscure words is hardly a crime against humanity

James Ball

So a guy in Washington, D.C., had to resign for using the word “niggardly.”

Let me start with a definition to clear things up immediately: niggardly means “stingy or miserly; characteristic of a miser.”

Last week, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams accepted the resignation of David Howard, a D.C. official, who used the word in a public forum.

I think I speak for everyone when I say, “What happened to Marion Barry?”

Maybe he quit in order to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2000. He has a rap sheet to make the Kennedys green with envy.

Anyway, apparently the black community was up in arms about the white man’s use of a word of European origin and the pressure forced him to quit.

I would have hoped that by 1999, we would be beyond this sort of thing, but here we go again.

Look, I’m not a big Rush Limbaugh or Gordon Liddy fan who looks down on anyone different than me. (At least not for something like their color).

Give me a good reason not to like you, like your ignorance, then we’ll talk.

I may lean more toward conservative than liberal, but I don’t like extremism of any sort. Liberals have some good ideas and so do conservatives.

But black, white or yellow, Williams and other politically correct watchdogs are what I term “idiots.” (Latin from idiota, a common, ignorant person).

The origin of “niggardly” is Scandinavian, from the word hnggr, or the Norwegian slang word, ngg, which means stingy.

The infamous “N” word this was confused with is a corruption of the word negro, which, I can assure you, was never used in Scandinavia four hundred years ago.

Simply put, there is no relation other than sound.

Besides, we’ve got lots of words which sound funny, and it’s mostly by coincidence.

Don’t you giggle a little every time you hear a British person ask for a fag? He’s asking for a cigarette, not using a derogatory term for homosexuals.

You buy Spic ‘n Span because it does a good job cleaning your dishes, not because you hate Hispanics.

Coon hunters aren’t Klansmen, they’re people hunting raccoons. Which brings me to Coon Street in Kings Beach. Those trying to make a big deal of it are assigning the street name a connotation it never had to begin with. They were naming the street after an indigenous species in Tahoe.

A cretin is not a derogatory term for people from Crete. It is taken from the word Christian.

Sure, to say you welshed on a bet or were an Indian giver or jewed someone down while haggling, are all very offensive terms and most people know it.

But that’s not the same as this.

A writer in Sacramento tried to say niggardly should be permanently removed from the English language. He also suggested -I kid you not -that terms like “black eye” and “blackguard” should also be banished from our lexicon.

Give us a break. I’m sure the sound of the word may have raised an eyebrow or two for the uneducated among us, but once the definition was explained, the issue should have been dropped.

Period.

James Ball is the Sierra Sun sports editor.

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