The N word

Okay, I’ve had my rants and witch hunts on people who talk about race here. But this time I have a serious question.

Has the meaning of “nigger” lost its power by the overuse and commerialzation(sp) of the word?

I’m surfing and come across a couple of videos that mock the use of it by other races. If you turn on popular tv or watch a movie in the US you can see it popping up in the lexicon as a slang word. I remember when Tarintino said the his overuse of the word in “Pulp Fiction” or was it “Reservoir DOgs” was to show how it loses value in the amount of use. Hip HOp artist subscribe to the same thought as they use it like a verb in their rapping. I’ve even had black friends justify using it and allowing other races call them ‘niggas’ as it’s no harm.

The word was derived, like bitch and other derogatory words, to demean the person they were using it. So, is it actually possible to transform something which orgin was no good to begin with?


Double yup, which makes me wonder why words like c.h.i.n.k, wog, etc, have so much trouble passing through the common use prism to ineffectualism here on Forumosa. Harbouring and trying to censor these terms lends them malice. Using them freely takes away their power.


Another “N” word was also a derogatory word when it was first coined. During WW1 the British recruited soldiers from its colony, Newfoundland, to fight. The British soldiers referred to the Newfoundland soldiers as ‘Newfies’ in a derogatory manner. The Newfounlanders, however, embraced this and almost a hundred years later most Newfoundlanders are very proud of the term.

Sticks and stones…

[quote=“Huang Guang Chen”]Double yup, which makes me wonder why words like c.h.i.n.k, wog, etc, have so much trouble passing through the common use prism to ineffectualism here on Forumosa. Harbouring and trying to censor these terms lends them malice. Using them freely takes away their power.

I couldn’t agree more.

Patti Smith once said:
“Jimi Hendrix was a nigger.
Jesus Christ and Grandma, too.
Jackson Pollock was a nigger.
Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger,
nigger, nigger, nigger.”

Nama -
It, for me at least, is still a very powerful word.
It has the amazing ability to make me want to knock the teeth out of the person I hear using it.

But thats just me. I still believe that words actually mean something.

Yes dear they mean something but what they mean is subject to change over time. There is perhaps nothing in linguistics that is more basic than this. When nigger was first used it was as a derogatory term used by whites to refer to blacks. Over time, blacks, as a stroke of genius in my opinion, started using it affectionately to refer to each other. At some point the meaning associated with the word will change because there will be a new generation of people who are barely aware of the old use. At that point nigger won’t mean what it used to and blacks will have scored a linguistic victory IMHO.

Having said that though it would have to be one down motherfuckin honky who could actually get away with the word at this point…

I wouldn’t use it.

Dear Bob -
Call Nama a nigger in my presence and see what happens.
I’m just an old knuckle dragger…:shrug:

WTF. I just said I wouldn’t use the word. What I meant by that was that I wouldn’t use it in direct adress.

I saw a film once in which a white guy had nothing but black freinds. That is not what the movie was about because that would be about nothing. Anyway his black friends called each other nigger all the time and he called them nigger too. Then one day he met a black guy who didn’t like being called a nigger by a white guy and threatened to blow white guys head off. White guy said “Fuck you nigger. You niggers call each other nigger all the time. Why cain’t I call you nigger?” at which point white guys black friend spoke up in defence of white guy and told black guy that white guy’s a nigger too. In the end black guy admitted white had balls and didn’t blow his head off.

Cool movie. Wish I could remember the name. It was about a trio of jazz musicians who were going through the process of withdrawl from a heroin addiction. If somebody knows the name I’d be glad to be reminded. It’s a one word name meaning chaos, darn where’s my thesaurus…

The word still bothers me. But I have a lot of negative, often violent, childhood memories attached to that word. Even when I say it or type it, if feels like I’ve spat it out. Which I also associate with the word, but, I won’t go into some of the things the neighborhood kids used to do to me until I moved to a new town.

Good points, and we’ve never taken the decision to censor those words lightly. We felt that there were very few situations that warranted the use of the word.

However, we’ve recently reconsidered our stance, as we believe that some people may want to discuss the word itself, which is fine. Be warned, however - flippant use of the word, and especially hateful use of the word will almost certainly have quick consequences. We will not tolerate hate or nastiness. This is not an envelope to be pushed with us.

I agree with other posters that words and epithets do change with regard to their power, relevance, and meaning over time, but I don’t see this one losing it’s power anytime soon, at least not in my lifetime; There’s just too much history, struggle and oppression tied up into it, IMHO.
Personally, I never use this word… and around black people I don’t even allow myself to think it.

I think it is all contextual. I have quite a few friends at home who call me a handful of racial slurs and they dont’ phase me except for a laugh. But you call my mom a sandnigger (as people did way too many times when I was growing up) and you see me not being very pretty.

I think its an ugly word. I think it is still used in a very hateful way by some people.

So, in answer to the original question, it depends. Sure, when a black guy calls his buddy, another black guy, a “nigger”, it means something different from when Mr. del Campo on the North Side used it when referring to black folks.

I don’t think I’ll ever use that word.

Same here…But I could use any of the rest without issue. The Mexican friends I went to school with…Shit, we ditzed each other all day long. Wops and Beaners, Dagos and Spics…We had lots of fun with it. My Black friends? Couldn’t touch this word, even though they used it with each other all the time. I wouldn’t say any of this to a Stranger of course, but with good friends it wasn’t a big thing…

Except the N-word. This will never change for me no matter how inane it becomes over time.

A middle-aged Guinea’s opinion only…YMMV

How do you keep a Sicilian from drowning?

Take your foot off his head.

interesting thread…especially the threat of physical violence - good to see on forumosa.

i suspect there is more of a connotation on the use of this word depending on where you come from. where i come from, when “nigger” is used, it is as a term of endearment amongst friends. i understand it comes from those originally from niger in africa, and perhaps more widely as those originating from africa. i am not african, i grew up seeing few africans or black people generally, and guess i don’t the history of this word being used in a negative sense. i guess it crept into common use from being a word of choice in numerous american films.

in taiwan, it is a bit presumptious to think everyone has the same upbringing and cultural beliefs as you, esp amoung foreigners here. this talk is the sort of cultural shite that starts wars. chill, ffs!

For the record it’s Nigga (Niggah), nigger will still get that ass beat in all situations. :laughing: :wink:

So the word has changed. There is a world of difference between nigger and nigga for some reason. We Black folk never say nigger, unless we’re making fun of Whitey.

I have gotten into the habit of saying “what’s up nigga?!?” to a bunch of folk. Learning proper nigga protocol is a tricky thing and can get a person hurt when they have a white belt in niggafu.

Urban dictionary has some funny definitions: [Click here nigga!]

On a more serious note, there’s a site dedicated to ending it’s use:

There are some moving images in its flash intro. Not for the… the ones that don’t like moving imagery I guess.

I’ve seen nothing posted so far that indicates this is the case.
Quite the contrary, imo.

Oh and incase you haven’t seen it.

[The Niggar Family]

Note: If you’re White you can’t laugh around Black folk. That could get your ass beat. :laughing:

Personally, I don’t like either version.

As an aside, Damon Wayans is attempting to obtain a trademark registration for “Nigga” in the US. Here’s an article re the same. I am friends with and work with two of the attorneys quoted in this article, and if he gets the registration in the US, I expect to be instructed to file here in Taiwan. Could be an interesting case, from a legal perspective. But, I’d rather not have to make an argument for registration of this mark in taiwan.