Life As A Hedgepig
 
Niggardly

Anyone who thinks I just used a racial slur goes to the back of the class. Get a dictionary and look it up before continuing to read this!

I see the "niggardly" issue has raised its ugly head again. Followers of the news may remember a few years back when a white staffer in the Washington DC mayor's office was compelled to resign when he used the word "niggardly" and some of his colleagues thought he was being insensitive at best and racist at worst. I recall that at the time I foamed at the mouth repeatedly about stupid people who don't understand perfectly good unoffensive words, and about stupider and obnoxious people who deliberately and stubbornly insist on taking offense where no offense was intended or even implied. Now we have a similar case.

This time, a (black) parent in North Carolina has taken offense at a teacher teaching the word "niggardly" to her fourth grade students. Her daughter was apparently offended by the word. (I would venture to suggest that if the daughter was offended by the word, she wasn't paying attention to what the teacher was saying, but that's by the way.) The teacher has been forbidden to talk about the incident, so the circumstances in which the offensive word came up are not clear; however, her son (who doesn't feel bound by the orders of the North Carolina Association of Educators) says that his mother was reprimanded for "poor judgement," ordered to send a letter of apology to the family of the offended student, and further ordered to undergo "sensitivty training."

It's stuff like this that dissuades me from seriously considering a teaching career. I am taking the first little baby steps towards finishing my four-year degree, with my eye on a Master's Degree after that, and every now and then I think I should take that Master's Degree in Education and go into teaching. But if you have to put up with being accused of "insensitivity" to "cultural differences" just for using a word that has no racial connotations whatsoever; or if you have to let students get away with plagiarism because catching them at it might hurt their self-esteem (that's another story); if teaching involves being politically correct and ignoring or worse, kowtowing to willfully stupid people, it is not the career for me. I do not tolerate stupid people very well, or ignorant people who prefer to cling to their ignorance.

There is a happy note in all of this. While following the various links to find the current story, and refresh my memory about the previous one, the hapless DC mayor's staffer, I ran across a little list on "adversity.net" that cheered me up a great deal, and I am pleased to share with you:

www.adversity.net

This is a list of "Niggardly Terms to Avoid." There are words that sound the same but have different meanings:

"Everyday Usage: boob: Person who makes stupid decisions or comes to inexplicable conclusions; of diminished mental capacity; (syn.) dummy; idiot; Bill Clinton.

"Offensive Interpretation: boob: A single breast, usually part of a more or less matched set, generally in reference to the female anatomy, although my Cousin Buck has a nice pair."

Then there are words that sound similar: chap/jap or masticate/masturbate, for example. The whole list is a very funny example of the not-so-funny consequences of taking this sort of thing too far. Marcus will like it, if for no other reason than the gratuitous slams against Bill Clinton--one of which I included above.

... Link


What's That Word?

OK, here's one for the Pet Peeves list. What is with "surveill?" This is not a word. I keep hearing this one from cops on tv--not tv cops, but real policeman who end up on tv: "We were surveilling the house..."

To which my immediate response is:"You were not!" They may have had the house under surveillance, but they most certainly were not "surveilling" it. If it takes too much energy to say "under surveillance" they could cut to the chase and simply say they were "watching" the house.

I assume that this bastardization of a perfectly good word is yet another example of the hideous practice of turning nouns into verbs that they were never meant to be. I suppose I should be grateful that they aren't trying to say "surveillancing."

... Link


 
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