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Taboo word fluency and knowledge of slurs and general pejoratives (sciencedirect.com)
27 points by snake117 on Dec 15, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

Somewhat related, it seems like no paper on this topic could come close to the seminally named article, "Fuck", which was downloaded so many times on SSRN that it shot Ohio State University to the top of the law school rankings, which then revealed how flawed the ranking system was and involved editorial censure and the unraveling of said law school rankings, and then was followed up with the hilarious "Fuck and Law Faculty Rankings".



Chris Fairman who wrote those papers, was a great teacher, but sadly he died this summer of a heart attack at 54. Thank you for reminding me to review some of his excellent work!

Reminds me of this video with Stephen Fry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_osQvkeNRM

My wife is Chinese and was raised by academics. I have asked her over the years what pejorative words they used for white people or Americans, especially in propaganda. Unfortunately she is so sheltered and nerdy, and her parents so genteel, that the best she could come up with was "ghost" or "Yankee".

I don't see the big problem with "ghost"? That was the term Maoist propaganda used, possibly more familiar to you as "foreign devil" 洋鬼子.

I just asked a Chinese friend (who lives now and always has lived in China, and the same one who informed me Indians were called 阿三); here's what she said:


指美国人??? [referring to Americans???]

美帝算么。。。 [does 美帝 "American imperialist(s)" count...]


指白种人也行 [or referring to white people]

有吗 :p [is there such a word :p ]


洋鬼子? [ghost?] [ok, I've editorialized that to match your wife. But I don't see the problem with glossing it that way; 洋 explicitly refers to foreignness, but 鬼 really does mean ghost.]


你怎么问我呢? [why are you asking me?]


呃。。那应该就这一个了 [oh.. then it should be this one]

I agree! I wanted something juicer...

Surely the juiciness is in how it's perceived? What's so juicy about "kike"? It doesn't even have semantics.

"Gweilo" for anyone curious. I think literally translates to "ghost folk".

The worst the Japanese seem capable of is "white pig" (specifically towards Americans). I mean, it's more accurate than offensive...

Tone (and context) matters more than the word though. Calling someone silly in the right tone could come off as offensive.

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