person of Chinese descent

Discuss word origins and meanings.

person of Chinese descent

Post by trolley » Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:14 pm

Does anyone have any insight as to why the term "Chinaman" is considered to be,if not derogatory, certainly no longer PC? It's obvious why those small black candies that I ate in my younger days are now "licorice kids" and today's children eeny meeny miny mo by catching robbers or tigers by the toe. I would not be offended by being refered to as a "Canadaman" anymore than would a Welshman or an Irishman. Am I,once again,overlooking something incredibly obvious?
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Post by russcable » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:17 pm

How does your wife feel about being a Canadaman?
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Post by Bobinwales » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:31 pm

When you ask "Why?" in questioning a PC situation, the answer is often "I dunno, it just seems right."

I have serious problems with political correctness.
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Bob in Wales

person of Chinese descent

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:08 am

Any "independent thinker" should have serious problems with it.
One of my candidates for Person of the 20th Century, Elisabeth Elliot, recognized it long before it became popularized as "Political Correctness", and called it "the Tyranny of Sensitivity". ("Oh no,no take it away....I wanted tea, weak, but not too weak....and only one slice of toast, and with No butter.")

Once a person has identified a victimization to which he or she may subscribe, his or her bread is baked....always some compassionate soul will come take up the cause and advocate.

Elisabeth Elliot's husband and four other men were speared to death in Ecuador in the 50s. Elisabeth, consummate victim, went in to those who killed her husband and the others, and gave them love. They are friends to this day.

I do not deny that others are victimized. But there are only two kinds of people in the world: Victims, and those who have Overcome their victimization.
One relationship at a time. Case-by-case. This is the only way that works. Doing unto the other as I would have him or her do unto me.

POLITE is a very good word, whose time has certainly come again.
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Post by Shelley » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:35 am

With regard to the question, why is the term "Chinaman" no longer (was it ever?) politically correct: a term like this is thought to be hurtful or demeaning today because of the tone or attitude behind the word when it was used in the increasingly distant past. That's my take on it, and I am the PC queen. Think of all those old westerns, and b&w TV shows: the guy at the corner table is not brimming over with the milk of human kindness when he growls, "Hey, Chinaman! Get me another drink! An' clean up this mess, while yer at it!"

I wish we could dispense with the phrase "politically correct" and just start calling it good manners.

By the way, trolley, in your examples Welshman and Irishman don't follow the form. They would be "Walesman" and "Irelandman".

Interestingly, I'm watching a DVD of "The Departed". Scene: a warehouse in which a highly illegal trade is being conducted between some American and Chinese gangsters. The American gangster says, ". . . Chinaman . . . no tickee, no laundree . . .". In Hollywood anyway, the bad guy STILL uses the term "Chinaman" with a somewhat less than respectful tone. Why ask why, trolley? Even without Hollywood to tell me, some things "just seem right".
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Post by trolley » Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:29 am

Why ask why,indeed. I can't just accept everything as it seems. Point taken on my examples,though. You are correct. Even yet, Walesman dosen't seem much of an insult either. Really, it was an honest question. I know it doesn't "seem" an appropriate term and I hadn't intended on using it. Maybe it was never actually PC but I'm pretty sure that at one time it wasn't PI. (I only used the term "politically correct" because I thought that was the politically correct term to describe political correctness). Sometimes "seems so" seems like a pretty limp reason to do or not do or say or not say something or anything.
Seamlessly,
trolley
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Post by Bobinwales » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:57 am

A while back when I had the same problem with dwarf I found that the word midget is not a problem in the UK, but is offensive in the US because of the old carnivals and freak shows.

Now that Shelley has pointed out how “Chinaman” was used as an insult, I begin to understand why you feel uneasy about it. So the whole thing goes back to. If you feel uneasy with it don’t use it, it ain’t compulsory.
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Post by hsargent » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:02 pm

We recently had an Art Show featuring an Artist from Tiawan. I was concerned if I should refer to the Artist as Chinease versus Tiawanese.
He was polite enough to not react to my bumbling.

This gets into a lot of politics.
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Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:17 pm

Harry, as you are an American, he probably figured you were thinking of the Cheyennes and the people of Tijuana. ;-)
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Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu Jan 25, 2007 4:35 pm

POLITE needs to be the root of polity and politics, don't you think?
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Post by dalehileman » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:08 pm

Shelley has nailed it
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Post by trolley » Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:02 pm

Thanks for yor help, everyone. If a word or phrase is not, in and of itself,offensive it only becomes a slur when used in that way. I did not feel the urge to rush to the aid of some of my fellow countrymen when I recently read them being referred to as Eskimos by several people in a recent post. I am sure it was not meant as an insult. I did not take it as an insult. Therefore, there was no insult. I will, however check with my Inuit friend just to be sure.
A Canuck
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Post by Phil White » Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:46 pm

If you refer to the "words for snow" postings, I was at pains to point out that the language group referred to is indeed called the "Eskimo" group by linguists, comprising the major families Aleut, Yup'ik, Yuit, and Inuit. The posts did, however, also refer to the peoples as "Eskimos", which many find offensive.
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Non sum felix lepus

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Post by Shelley » Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:38 pm

My most recent understanding is that indigenous people (for lack of a better label) wish to be called, ideally, by their tribal name. (Yeah, but what if I don't know their tribal name, and it's important for some reason to mention their ethnicity?) I guess I'd use Native American, although I hear the term "Indian" is ok, now. Please correct me if that's wrong.

There's a big difference between an intentional insult and an offense committed out of lack of information. If someone continues to use racist or hurtful language against people EVEN AFTER s/he's been made aware of its offensive quality -- well that's just ornery.

I agree you'd have to be a mind-reader to avoid offending everyone all the time. But it's not too hard to be aware of what people are saying out there, and how we are effecting eachother. Politics, no kidding! In New York, there's a legislative effort to ban the N-word!

Trolley, you can certainly correct me any time you think I'm using a term which might be deemed offensive by anyone you know. How am I going to remain the reigning PC queen without continuing education?
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Post by trolley » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:31 pm

No mens rea? No crime (or,at least, a much lesser one). Anyone want a tort?
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