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Old 29th September 2022, 01:35 PM   #41
Bob001
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Out of curiosity, do you think it is possible that the same word can be used as a slur at some times and merely descriptive at other times?

For example:I suppose it is possible that Poe was trying to put this man's mother down, but it doesn't seem likely in context.
"The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" was written 180 years ago. Times change, and language evolves. When a word is used with intent to demean or disparage, it's a slur. "Huckleberry Finn" is full of uses of the n-word. That doesn't mean you can call someone that and claim "If it was good enough for Mark Twain, it's good enough for me."

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Old 29th September 2022, 01:47 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
Squaw is hardly alone in being a word with no negative connotations that has accrued baggage (and false etymologies) over time.
Putting aside the false etymologies for now, I'm still unimpressed with the evidential case that the term was generally used as a racial slur rather than a racial designation, back when it was still in common parlance.

Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
When a word is used with intent to demean or disparage, it's a slur.
Agreed. Who used "squaw" with such intent back when the term was in common use? If it is as bad as you claim, examples should be easy to come by.

ETA: Probably not Mark Twain.
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Old 29th September 2022, 02:10 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
If he told me he didn't like being called a Celt for whatever reason or no reason, and I insisted on repeating it, that would be willfully offensive and even taunting.
There's a lot of potential mischief hidden in here. The reason one uses specific language matters. The difference between using a term for a reason and for no reason is often not a small thing.

And yes, if someone doesn't like you calling them something, then it's not polite to call them that. Politeness is a virtue to be generally encouraged. But sometimes politeness isn't the most important thing. Sometimes accuracy and clarity is more important than politeness. The point was never that you should simply ignore what other people think about your language. The point is that what they think isn't an automatic veto. It's only one factor to consider. Sometimes it may be the determining factor, but not always.
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Old 29th September 2022, 02:12 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Who used "squaw" with such intent back when the term was in common use?
And who used it with such intent when naming places? It doesn't seem like derogatory names for places are very popular.
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Old 29th September 2022, 03:58 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
.....
Agreed. Who used "squaw" with such intent back when the term was in common use? If it is as bad as you claim, examples should be easy to come by.
.....
It doesn't matter what anybody meant when these places were populated by pioneers in covered wagons. The word is offensive now, and that's why the names were changed now. Why is this a problem?
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Old 29th September 2022, 04:01 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Putting aside the false etymologies for now, I'm still unimpressed with the evidential case that the term was generally used as a racial slur rather than a racial designation, back when it was still in common parlance.
It's kind of silly to cross your arms and ask people to prove that a word is offensive. What do you imagine this "evidential case" looking like? Lexicographers and linguists marking the word as offensive? People objecting to being described with the word? These ships sailed long ago. It's just a matter of when, and you can be sure that it will shade in.

I mean, the n-bomb was once a neutral word, that could be readily uttered in polite society. These words acquire negative connotations because they are laden with contemporary attitudes among white people towards the people they describe. Which, y'know, very often weren't great.

But sure, sit at the desk, put up the "prove it's offensive" sign. You'll just be ignored if you want to be this unreasonably hidebound.
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Old 29th September 2022, 04:08 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
What do you imagine this "evidential case" looking like?
At this point, I'd be happy to see just a few examples of European Americans using the s-word as an anti-Native slur.

Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
The word is offensive now, and that's why the names were changed now. Why is this a problem?
No problem, I just don't take kindly to unevidenced claims in a forum about using evidence to back up claims.
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Old 29th September 2022, 04:08 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
It doesn't matter what anybody meant when these places were populated by pioneers in covered wagons. The word is offensive now, and that's why the names were changed now. Why is this a problem?
Why is the word offensive now? Past usage? You say not. Present usage? No, present usage is devoid of meaning except as a label for a place.

There seems to be no coherent history of how or when or where exactly the word started to be used as a pejorative. Just the spontaneous appearance, ex nihil, of a vocal faction claiming maximum offense from this word.

And don't pretend their membership in some modern tribal social club gives them standing. The present day descendants of the original settlers on the continent still have to answer the same rules of linguistics, sociology, and science as the rest of us. One eighth Cherokee blood is not trans-rational magic.
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Old 29th September 2022, 04:43 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
At this point, I'd be happy to see just a few examples of European Americans using the s-word as an anti-Native slur.
How do you propose we distinguish between a racist using the word as a neutral descriptor of a member of a race he sees as inferior vs. a racist using it as a slur? And why do you suppose that distinction would or should matter much to the person being described?
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Old 29th September 2022, 04:58 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
How do you propose we distinguish between a racist using the word as a neutral descriptor of a member of a race he sees as inferior vs. a racist using it as a slur? And why do you suppose that distinction would or should matter much to the person being described?
I suggest you start with an example usage "in the wild", and we can work from there.
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Old 29th September 2022, 05:02 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I suggest you start with an example usage "in the wild", and we can work from there.
No, I think we should bother to define our terms first. Otherwise it's a meaningless exercise.
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Old 29th September 2022, 05:04 PM   #52
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Question Surely there are *some* usage examples?

I'm really beginning to wonder if they have an examples to draw upon here.
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Old 29th September 2022, 05:23 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm really beginning to wonder if they have an examples to draw upon here.
If you could coherently define what it is that you're looking for examples of, it would probably help.
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Old 29th September 2022, 05:32 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
If you could coherently define what it is that you're looking for examples of, it would probably help.
Whatever "slur" means in the OP is fine.

ETA: "hateful and derogatory"
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Old 29th September 2022, 06:04 PM   #55
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Is it really that hard to just not use a word when asked not to?
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Old 29th September 2022, 06:11 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm really beginning to wonder if they have an examples to draw upon here.
At least two posts have given you citations for exactly that. You're just being a denialist, again.

This isn't a close call. You were given examples, and overwhelming testimony from the exact people who are targeted by the slur of it's use, and you're still here pretending it's ambiguous. This level of denialism should inform others about the quality of all your assessments of like issues.
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Old 29th September 2022, 06:14 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Is it really that hard to just not use a word when asked not to?
Depends on the word. I don't think anyone was using "squaw" around here, aside from one odd reference to Liz Warren in 2012.
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Old 29th September 2022, 06:17 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
At least two posts have given you citations for exactly that.
Citations to sources which provided usage examples? If so, it should be very easy to come up with at least a couple of excerpts which provide examples of European Americans using the s-word as an anti-Native slur.
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Old 29th September 2022, 06:19 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Wikipedia has a bunch

Note that this is being done by the Dept. of Interior (via the USGS, one of the agencies of the DOI). Interior's chief:

Here's a few more
Arizona leaders praise Secretary Deb Haaland’s order to remove derogatory names from federal lands

I have worked with a number of tribal governments on this or that project, and one thing that is clear to me is that these groups are very much not monolithic. I am sure that applies to this as well. I've worked with groups that would get very angry at the use of the word "Indian", others that used the word casually and were fine with it, others that preferred the use of that word in legal documents but not in any other usage (because the treaties they had with the U.S. Government used the word "Indian" so they wanted to be very very clear that they were that group referred to in the treaty). Most, though, seemed to prefer "Native American" or "Indigenous" for the larger picture with the correct names of the tribes/nations/groups in more local situations.

So I am guessing that the same is true of this word. One can find Native Americans who are not offended by the use of the word, and Native Americans who are very offended. But a strong majority seem to find the word to have derogatory connotations, even if they recognize that the word did not start out that way.
The highlighted is generally very true. For example, people call various social, economic, familial, and governmental structures tribes and various influential individuals chiefs, regardless of how wildly inapplicable either term is.

What is interesting is how, on this specific issue, there is the level of agreement there is on the slur being a slur, at least from women.
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Old 29th September 2022, 08:53 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Whatever "slur" means in the OP is fine.

ETA: "hateful and derogatory"
This is useless. I'm asking for criteria. Reiterating that hateful language is hateful does not resolve the question posed above: how do you distinguish between a hateful utterance and one that is merely unthinking or unsophisticated? You're asking for transitional fossils, the argument will be made or lost on inferential and circumstantial grounds. Grandma don't mean nuthin' by it when she asks if you want a ****** toe, but at some point we have to acknowledge that the 98-year-old might be slightly out of step, and that an inability to get with the times might be considered a failing, especially among younger people.

One of Twain's tasks in Huckleberry Finn was to illustrate how demeaning it was that Jim is always and forever a ******, and never permitted to be a man--this at a time when the word was not terribly controversial, and few would describe it as overtly hateful. I'd probably make the case against squaw on similar grounds. Prior to the civil war, native women were rarely referred to as women per se--they were always squaws. There's an implication there--that they weren't quite human enough to be thought of as women. A lazy-ass search of the New York Times archive gives a few dozen hits for "squaw" in the 1850s (the earliest decade of its archives), zero for "indian woman". None for the few individual nations I tried ("sioux woman", "cherokee woman", "shoshone woman"). By the early 1860s there are a handful of hits for "indian woman".

Later, the word is heavily associated with highly stereotypical portrayals of native women. If some dork is doing an impression replete with teepees, peace pipes, and "heap big wampum", "squaw" is unlikely to be far behind.

Do I need to make a case against negress too, or can we take that as a read? Whatever, there's always room at grandma's house.
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Old 29th September 2022, 09:03 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm really beginning to wonder if they have an examples to draw upon here.
What am I, chopped liver?

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Old 29th September 2022, 09:13 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
Reiterating that hateful language is hateful does not resolve the question posed above: how do you distinguish between a hateful utterance and one that is merely unthinking or unsophisticated?
I don't think it's all that difficult if we actually look at specific instances of the term in question when it is being used as a slur, or not.

For example:
Quote:
...the field is green and not too tall, where the women - you didn't call them squaws unless they were dirty or lazy - tramped up for water from the camp along the river, decade after decade.
Now the character in this novel may be unthinking or unsophisticated, but he is also making it clear that he uses the word in question as a slur.

For another example, from the same year:
Quote:
The young squaw massaged my frozen feet with a mixture of bear's grease and some sort of herb.
In this case, there is no indication that the word is meant to convey anything derogatory, and context makes it clear that the author was plying the noble savage trope.
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Old 29th September 2022, 11:17 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
What am I, chopped liver?
He has been quite adamant that testimony to the usage of the word is insufficient and only first-hand literary uses are acceptable. Of course, there are entire swathes of colloquialisms that have been verbally prolific but rare in contemporary print - I am quite confident for instance that "ain't" was verbally far more prolific, and from far earlier, than any written corpus would suggest - and such a demand conveniently erases them all from existence; but how language works isn't important when there's a technicality-win at stake dammit.
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Old 30th September 2022, 01:10 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
It doesn't matter what anybody meant when these places were populated by pioneers in covered wagons. The word is offensive now, and that's why the names were changed now. Why is this a problem?
That's what I don't understand, it's similar to the arguments about removing from public display old statues, why do people today have to be held to decisions made by people in the past? Are the views of people today less valid or not as important as the views held by people in the past?
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Old 30th September 2022, 05:02 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Are the views of people today less valid or not as important as the views held by people in the past?
If the question is "What connotation did this archaic word convey back when it was commonly used?" then you have to look at past usage. If the question is whether people find a term offensive or derogatory today, you can just do a survey. Of course, people can be mistaken about whether any given term is really intended to convey derogation, if they don't know how it is used in a given cultural context.

Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
He has been quite adamant that testimony to the usage of the word is insufficient and only first-hand literary uses are acceptable.
If it's good enough for the lexicographers it's good enough for me.
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Old 30th September 2022, 05:25 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
They should replace all instances of it with "Hawk Screech".
I'm okay with this.
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Old 30th September 2022, 05:50 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I'm really beginning to wonder if they have an examples to draw upon here.
There is a story in my family that my great-great-great-grandfather "went west and was never heard from again."

That would be my grandmother's great-grandfather.

My dad always told the story of how he would tease his mom by telling her that he shacked up with some Indian squaw. Pissed her off to no end.

He certainly wasn't using it as a term of endearment.
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Old 30th September 2022, 06:14 AM   #68
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
If the question is "What connotation did this archaic word convey back when it was commonly used?" then you have to look at past usage. If the question is whether people find a term offensive or derogatory today, you can just do a survey. Of course, people can be mistaken about whether any given term is really intended to convey derogation, if they don't know how it is used in a given cultural context.

If it's good enough for the lexicographers it's good enough for me.
It doesn't make the slightest difference. The situation is that people today with the power to change names are changing names, just like the people in the past with the power to change names changed names.
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Old 30th September 2022, 06:39 AM   #69
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
The situation is that people today with the power to change names are changing names, just like the people in the past with the power to change names changed names.
Right, and the people today are being silly, comparing "squaw" to "******" as if the former term was primarily used as a racial epithet.
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Old 30th September 2022, 06:39 AM   #70
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
He has been quite adamant that testimony to the usage of the word is insufficient and only first-hand literary uses are acceptable. Of course, there are entire swathes of colloquialisms that have been verbally prolific but rare in contemporary print - I am quite confident for instance that "ain't" was verbally far more prolific, and from far earlier, than any written corpus would suggest - and such a demand conveniently erases them all from existence; but how language works isn't important when there's a technicality-win at stake dammit.
The link contained numerous examples of its use as a slur in print reproduced directly and a great deal of cited ones in the footnotes. The goalpost was a false bar and already met.

EDIT: And to state the bleeding obvious, lexicographers do use first hand accounts of use of a word in speech as evidence for how a word was used. First hand accounts are, after all, often written down in addition to being evidence in and of itself.
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Old 30th September 2022, 06:42 AM   #71
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Right, and the people today are being silly, comparing "squaw" to "******" as if the former term was primarily used as a racial epithet.
And?
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Old 30th September 2022, 07:07 AM   #72
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Originally Posted by tyr_13 View Post
The link contained numerous examples of its use as a slur in print reproduced directly and a great deal of cited ones in the footnotes.
Which of those usage examples struck you as clearly slurrish?

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
And?
If there is good evidence that the word in question is mostly used as a racial epithet, then it makes sense to go on a nationwide name-changing spree. If the word has been used more often as neutral shorthand for women of mostly native ancestry, then it doesn't make nearly as much sense to send the message that the s-word is a slur somehow on par with the n-word.
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Old 30th September 2022, 07:20 AM   #73
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There are a few local place names with "squaw" in their names, here in the Narragansetts' and Wampanoag's native shores.

Of course, it'd be no skin off my nose if they were changed. But I have to wonder: did the natives who had the word in their native language ever use it as a slur themselves? Did male hunters and warriors ever call one another squaws as a goad or insult? Did men arguing with their wives or daughters ever suggest that a mere squaw couldn't possibly know what she was talking about? Did adolescent boys ever boast to their friends of the attractive features of the squaws they'd one day abduct from enemy tribes and subdue? And did the white men who interacted with the natives ever pick up on such usages and further infuse the word with their own firm belief in the inferiority of women?

If so, let's pretend that denigrating women because of their sex is (a) unusual and (b) only a problem with the specific word used. Let's erase more native place names by declaring their own usages of their own words as intolerable slurs, in the name of respect! While a thousand times a day our young male athletic team members continue to call one another girls or ladies or women as a goad or insult.
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Old 30th September 2022, 07:32 AM   #74
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
If there is good evidence that the word in question is mostly used as a racial epithet, then it makes sense to go on a nationwide name-changing spree. If the word has been used more often as neutral shorthand for women of mostly native ancestry, then it doesn't make nearly as much sense to send the message that the s-word is a slur somehow on par with the n-word.
Why ignore how the word is currently used because 200 years ago it was used differently?
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Old 30th September 2022, 07:36 AM   #75
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The Wiki link in post 11 says that the reason it is considered a slur is that it was used as such for "centuries". D4m10n makes a solid point here, in that the derogatory use is not really shown, just claimed. You could just as easily say that "Italian" was used in a derogatory way by some users, but that does not make it a general slur either.
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Old 30th September 2022, 07:45 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
I don't think it's all that difficult if we actually look at specific instances of the term in question when it is being used as a slur, or not.
This is no more a compelling answer than "I know pornography when I see it" is. You're ignoring the problem that your approach requires that you know the state of mind of a speaker one, two, three hundred years removed from the present. You're not appreciating how difficult the difficulty is.

Quote:
Now the character in this novel may be unthinking or unsophisticated, but he is also making it clear that he uses the word in question as a slur.
He's also fictional, and therefore not terribly useful to a lexicographer interested in English as she is spoken. Presumably the same reason you won't find ansible or palantir in a dictionary.

Real people tend to be cagey about whether they're being hateful or not. Until very recently, and probably still, you'd find people defending ****** as being not a slur for black people, but a word for bad black people. Was it Senator Byrd who called Bill Clinton a "white ******"?

Lexicographers don't bother trying to find out whether a speaker in 1850 has hate in their heart when they use a word, or anything silly like that. They mark a word as offensive if it's widely considered to be offensive, because this has the advantage of actually being discoverable.
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Old 30th September 2022, 07:50 AM   #77
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
The Wiki link in post 11 says that the reason it is considered a slur is that it was used as such for "centuries". D4m10n makes a solid point here, in that the derogatory use is not really shown, just claimed. You could just as easily say that "Italian" was used in a derogatory way by some users, but that does not make it a general slur either.
One of the sources listed in the Wiki link was the National Museum of the American Indian. I'd guess they might, just maybe, know more about whether or not "squaw" is offensive to Native Americans than the posters here refusing to recognize such.

Another source given in post 11 was "Indian Country Today", and while they don't claim "squaw" is universally offensive, they do repeatedly point out that it is offensive to many. So offensive, in fact, that they went back and edited the article to say "the s word" instead of "squaw" throughout the article.
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Old 30th September 2022, 08:09 AM   #78
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Originally Posted by wareyin View Post
One of the sources listed in the Wiki link was the National Museum of the American Indian. I'd guess they might, just maybe, know more about whether or not "squaw" is offensive to Native Americans than the posters here refusing to recognize such.
Asking whether a term is being used for derogation (intent) is not the same as asking whether people find it offensive (impact).

On occasion people will take offense where none was intended.

Originally Posted by wareyin View Post
Why ignore how the word is currently used because 200 years ago it was used differently?
Happy to look at examples of contemporary usage, if you can find them.

ETA: Here is one.
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Old 30th September 2022, 08:14 AM   #79
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Which of those usage examples struck you as clearly slurrish?

If there is good evidence that the word in question is mostly used as a racial epithet, then it makes sense to go on a nationwide name-changing spree. If the word has been used more often as neutral shorthand for women of mostly native ancestry, then it doesn't make nearly as much sense to send the message that the s-word is a slur somehow on par with the n-word.
I can see you consider "makes sense to d4m10n" to be the standard that should be used. However it has been explained to you - via the quotes of those with the power to effect the change of names - that they don't ascribe to your standard.

Why is your standard the one that should prevail?
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Old 30th September 2022, 08:14 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by mumblethrax View Post
He's also fictional, and therefore not terribly useful to a lexicographer interested in English as she is spoken.
The folks at the OED cited it as an example sentence, so I'm going to assume they found it useful.
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