Friday, February 29, 2008

Speech codes

1. Can an Israeli politician use the word "shoah" in an interview with a Hebrew speaking broadcaster, on an Israeli radio programme, intended for an Israeli audience quite familiar with the colloquial usage of the Hebrew word "shoah" as denoting a calamity, disaster?

Apparently, not, according to this.

2. Can an American politician repeat presidential hopeful Obama's full name and not be suspected of some unsavoury ulterior motive? *

Apparently not, according to this story.

3. And can anyone use the adjective "niggardly" without being accused of making a racial slur?

Apparently not, according to this.


* Update: here is Michelle Obama on same subject

Something funny. I didn't realize that those who pronounce Obama's full name intend to evince some sort of angst about its nominal commonality with a certain Iraqi dictator who is no longer. I thought they just wanted to remind listeners that he is an outsider, with an Arab or Muslim name. If I think about the name Hussein, my first association is King Hussein of Jordan. Not that other guy.


At 2:05 PM EST, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

I shall try to be first. I shall also go backward:

3. Let's change "niggardly" to "jewingly", so that everyone could be happy.

2. Apparently not.

1. Being Jewish, a question for a question: why should every martinet of a general who didn't find a cushy job in the private sector, become a pol?


At 2:31 PM EST, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...


Your #3 is off key. "niggardly" has a Norwegian etymology. Nothing to do with the n-word. How about, however, we extirpate the word "jewellery" from our vocabulary?

To #1: It's a good question which has nothing to do with my question...

And about dear Obama, I can think of no equivalent except for the director Norman Jewison, who is not Jewish. He always suspected that he got the job of directing Mordechai Richler's Duddy Kravitz (or was it "Joshua then and now") because the producers assumed he was. When he told them he was not Jewish, they pretended that they had known that all along... and gave him the job anyway.


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