Inja/Injun vs India/Indian

pops91710

Senior Member
English, AE
I was reading a currently on-going thread about the correct pronunciation of produce as either pro-doose or pro-juice. In the USA we would normally say pro-doose, as opposed to pro-juice. But I was not surprised to see some in England/UK say it as pro-juice.

I am aware that currently in the USA the word Injun is being purged from Mark Twain's book The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It seems that Injun Joe's name is somehow a perjoritive, and must be changed.

In England I know it is common in some circles to say Inja for India, and Injun for Indian. I also know that the term Injun in this country came about the same way, either by Engish influence (from immigrants, perhaps), or by our own carry-over from our English ancestry, and not as a perjorative.

My question is, would this even be an issue in the UK? Is it more accepted or tolerated in the UK to say Inja/Injun?
 
  • Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    My question is, would this even be an issue in the UK? Is it more accepted or tolerated in the UK to say Inja/Injun?
    My personal pronunciation is not with "j" like you indicate, though it very well might happen if someone is speaking quickly. As for it being an issue, no, I don't think it would.
    Are you talking about the Indian vs Native American naming issue? If you are, I don't believe that's connected to India/Inja or Indian/Injun.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    My personal pronunciation is not with "j" like you indicate, though it very well might happen if someone is speaking quickly. As for it being an issue, no, I don't think it would.
    Are you talking about the Indian vs Native American naming issue? If you are, I don't believe that's connected to India/Inja or Indian/Injun.

    No, as far as I know they are purging it from the book because of the word Injun, not because it means Indian. Yes, I know it is also incorrect now to say Indian. But it is not univeral. Just a few miles away are the Morongo Indian Casinos, so named by the Morongo Indians themselves who seem not to be offended by it. Also the San Miguel Indians are another one calling their casino Indian Casinos. My own daughter-in-law is full blood Indian (Navajo/Chippewa) and is not offended by it.(Indian or Injun)

    Injun has been determined by someone as a perjorative term. Not knowing, I am sure, the entymology.

    Not surprisingly, the Urban Dictionary says injun is a racist, offensive term equivilent to the N word. And dictionaries put together by scholars say it is simply a dialect pronunciation of Indian.
     
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    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Injun has been determined by someone as a perjorative term. Not knowing, I am sure, the entymology.

    I didn't know it was offensive.
    I don't think Brits would be, but I can't reply on their behalf, maybe someone might think it's offensive, but I don't understand why.
     
    "Injun," meaning "Indian," is seen as pejorative because it was used for many years (mostly in fiction, I think) as a negative way to refer to American Indians. It took on a pejorative meaning not because it is inherently offensive, but because it was often used in an offensive way. "Indians" as a term for Native Americans is itself controversial but off topic for this thread.

    Also off topic would be my opinion of purging literature from the past to match current political sensitivities. Suffice it to say that I'm just reporting the story, not taking sides. :)
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    "Injun," meaning "Indian," is seen as pejorative because it was used for many years (mostly in fiction, I think) as a negative way to refer to American Indians. It took on a pejorative meaning not because it is inherently offensive, but because it was often used in an offensive way. "Indians" as a term for Native Americans is itself controversial but off topic for this thread.

    Also off topic would be my opinion of purging literature from the past to match current political sensitivities. Suffice it to say that I'm just reporting the story, not taking sides. :)

    I have to agree. I have only seen the word in print and heard it in old Hollywood "Cowboys and Native American" movies:D.
     

    ><FISH'>

    Senior Member
    British English
    In the UK such things like "Injun" having pejorative connotations is irrelevant. I doubt there are more than a hundred actual Native Americans in the UK so this connotation is not relevant, not to mention there are very few contexts in which Native Americans would be discussed. What you are probably hearing is just a feature of some accents to pronounce the word "Indian" (South Asian) like that. It is slightly casual and lazy pronunciation, not common but also not unusual. When paying attention I see that I also do it.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    In the UK such things like "Injun" having pejorative connotations is irrelevant. I doubt there are more than a hundred actual Native Americans in the UK so this connotation is not relevant, not to mention there are very few contexts in which Native Americans would be discussed. What you are probably hearing is just a feature of some accents to pronounce the word "Indian" (South Asian) like that. It is slightly casual and lazy pronunciation, not common but also not unusual. When paying attention I see that I also do it.

    I never considered that there might be Native Americans in the UK. I just assumed that it would be understood that I was referring to the people of India who are in the UK. I apologize for the omission.
     

    Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    Coming from the English Midlands where there is a relatively high proportion of people of Indian or Pakistani origin, I can safely say that I have never heard even the sloppiest speaker say 'injun' or 'Inja'. The 'i' of India is always pronounced, even if only lightly.

    'Injun', as mentioned above, is strictly from old Western movies.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I would just like to point out that Injun has been considered offensive in the US for a very long time. I can't find any definitive information about when it came to be seen as an offensive term, but based upon my own experience, this happened in the late 1960's or early 1970's. I'm referring here only to the pronunciation variant of Indian: The offensiveness of Injun had nothing to do with the etymology of the term, but likely did, as mentioned earlier in this thread, have to do with the term being used in those Western films and television programs of the first half of the 20th century by white main characters who were at war with Indians.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    'Injun', as mentioned above, is strictly from old Western movies.

    Not so! Mark Twain pre-dates western movies by several decades. His book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was published in 1884, way before the popular western movies used injuns in their talkies (1930's).

    Injun Joe was a character of the book by Twain.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Not so! Mark Twain pre-dates western movies by several decades. His book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" was published in 1884, way before the popular western movies used injuns in their talkies (1930's).

    Injun Joe was a character of the book by Twain.

    He was a character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the setting of which was the Missouri frontier before the Civil War, the time in which Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) was a boy, so about 1840-1850. Mark Twain was careful in his presentation of dialect, so Injun represented the pronunciation of Indian in that time and place. In the book it is used not just in reference to Injun Joe but in the expressions honest injun and injun-meal shorts (whatever those are).
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    He was a character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the setting of which was the Missouri frontier before the Civil War, the time in which Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) was a boy, so about 1840-1850. Mark Twain was careful in his presentation of dialect, so Injun represented the pronunciation of Indian in that time and place. In the book it is used not just in reference to Injun Joe but in the expressions honest injun and injun-meal shorts (whatever those are).

    You are quite right, and I knew that! I read Tom Sawyer several times as a young boy as well as Huck Finn, and got the two mixed up! :eek:

    But, my point was the Injun term was not coined in the western movies, as Bevj stated. ('Injun', as mentioned above, is strictly from old Western movies). Nor did Twain (Samuel Clemens) invent it either, (as we already knew). It was a real word used by Americans. And overused in the westerns.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    For the record, the Oxford English Dictionary gives the date of first attribution of Injun as 1812:

    1812 Col. J. Cocke in Salem Gaz. 28 Aug. 1/2 The people of Tenessee is antious to have orders commanded out for us to march against the injuns on the Wabash.

    It gives the date of first attribution of Ingin (which may very well represent the same pronunciation) as 1683.

    1683 in S. A. Green Early Rec. Groton, Mass. (1880) If any Ingins can proue a lagiall [= legal] titall.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    For the record, the Oxford English Dictionary gives the date of first attribution of Injun as 1812:



    It gives the date of first attribution of Ingin (which may very well represent the same pronunciation) as 1683.

    Given that it goes that far back I have to wonder which pronunciation came first? Has it been injun from the beginning, and indian was added as times and education advanced?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Since we are talking about pronunciation patterns, "injun" is the way a rather large number of native Oregonians (Anglos) pronounce "engine."
     

    Popsob

    New Member
    English
    I cannot help but notice the similarities of "Injun" and the Irish pronunciation of "Indian." "I" is a "slender" vowel in the Irish language, and when it follows or precedes certain consonants, i.e., "d," "s," or "t," it changes the sound of the consonant. "D" becomes a "j" sound, "s" becomes "sh," and "t" becomes "ch." "Indian" would be pronounced "Injin," or "Injun." This could explain the finding of the pronunciation in both the US and UK, the US because of the huge migration of Irish in the 19th century, and the UK because of the Irish, Scots, and other Celtic peoples who inhabit the area and share forms and dialects of the Celtic languages.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I cannot help but notice the similarities of "Injun" and the Irish pronunciation of "Indian." "I" is a "slender" vowel in the Irish language, and when it follows or precedes certain consonants, i.e., "d," "s," or "t," it changes the sound of the consonant. "D" becomes a "j" sound, "s" becomes "sh," and "t" becomes "ch." "Indian" would be pronounced "Injin," or "Injun." This could explain the finding of the pronunciation in both the US and UK, the US because of the huge migration of Irish in the 19th century, and the UK because of the Irish, Scots, and other Celtic peoples who inhabit the area and share forms and dialects of the Celtic languages.
    This is a much wider typical phonetic process throughout the world, and sort of a "typical what might occur when you have these sounds together" rather than a special process in one variant which spread through migration. We had a thread yesterday on exactly this, and inside there's a link to an earlier thread about "produce" and "pro-juice" being the same. I'll grab the links now if you're interested:

    pronunciation of "sexual" in BrE
    'produce' pronounced as pro-juice?

    Basically it's linked to a sound called YOD (like a 'y' sound, written as [j] in the IPA (not the sound in Jim, but in Yin)), and when it's next to an alveolar sound (like 'd' or 's'), it "coalesces" (merges), changing the positioning of the pronunciation, and lead to the new sound being produced. It's not as intuitive as other changes because we typically don't write the yod sound in our spelling system, but it is there. It's also why "dew" and "jew" are homophonous in many parts of the UK. Anyway, better explanations are in the links provided.

    Regards
     
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    He was a character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the setting of which was the Missouri frontier before the Civil War, the time in which Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) was a boy, so about 1840-1850. Mark Twain was careful in his presentation of dialect, so Injun represented the pronunciation of Indian in that time and place. In the book it is used not just in reference to Injun Joe but in the expressions honest injun and injun-meal shorts (whatever those are).

    I guite agree. Mark Twain took great pains to preserve the dialectical sounds and syntax of his characters, and part of his acclaim derived from the ease and originality with which he did so. It horrifies me to think it could be "corrected" since that destroys the sounds he conveys.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    In written communication the term 'injun' would always be understood to mean indigenous Americans even in the UK, because it's an imitation of the American way of saying it. There aren't really any verbal stigmas associated with terms for such people because we very rarely have to talk about them. We generally refer to them as Native Americans in order not to confuse them with real Indians, of which we have copious quantities. It is perhaps a little uneducated to refer to 'eskimos' and 'red indians' instead of inuits and native Americans, but not offensive in informal conversation.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I don't think I have ever before seen 'injun' printed or written down, otherwise than as what I took to be a phonetic spelling of the dialect pronunciation of "Indian" where "Indian" = North American Indian. Then on the other hand, there are few, if any, NAIs in UK and if there are, then they don't make the news.

    In the 50's, as children, we would play, "Cowboys and Indians." not 'injuns'.
     

    Prophet1976

    New Member
    English
    I always just assumed it was the product of a lazy, slurred dialect. Indian becomes injun, idiot becomes idjit and so on. There is even the more severe case concerning how the Arcadian people who migrated into the bayou are now referred to as Cajuns. Any thoughts?
     
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    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I am reluctant to categorize words pronounced in a dialect different from my own as "lazy." For one thing, it's not constructive.

    For another, I don't think it's accurate. Many, many, many words are contracted or otherwise shortened in English, and who am I to say that San "Bernadino" (the shortened form of the name of my home county, which is spelled San Bernardino, but that "r" is never pronounced) is OK but "Injun" is not? Nobody, that's who. Why is my dialect superior to someone else's? It's not.

    As for Cajun, my maternal grandfather's family is Cajun, and that's exactly how they say it. My thought is if they want to call themselves Cajuns, that's what they should be called. I adore etymology, but the most important thing about a word, including Cajun, isn't where it came from but what it means now. And what it means now doesn't have much to do with Arcadia, does it?
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Injun," meaning "Indian," is seen as pejorative because it was used for many years (mostly in fiction, I think) as a negative way to refer to American Indians. It took on a pejorative meaning not because it is inherently offensive, but because it was often used in an offensive way...

    I would just like to point out that Injun has been considered offensive in the US for a very long time. I can't find any definitive information about when it came to be seen as an offensive term, but based upon my own experience, this happened in the late 1960's or early 1970's. I'm referring here only to the pronunciation variant of Indian: The offensiveness of Injun had nothing to do with the etymology of the term, but likely did, as mentioned earlier in this thread, have to do with the term being used in those Western films and television programs of the first half of the 20th century by white main characters who were at war with Indians.
    It's not just that the white characters in these old movies were at war with the Indians. It's that they (and probably many whites at the time) had a low opinion of Indians and of their worth as human beings. They would say such things as "The only good Indian (probably pronounced 'Injun') is a dead Indian." The pronunciation "Injun" is associated, in the minds of many Americans, and probably most Native Americans, with those attitudes. Even though most people have moved past those attitudes, the pronunciation "Injun" serves as a verbal reminder of them - just as the term "nigger" serves to remind African-Americans of slavery and discrimination even when it is said by a person who does not support either of those. That's why it's best to avoid using it.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I add my disgust and horror regarding this censorship. I dread to think what the replacement will be, "Native American Joe"? :eek:

    I am pretty sure that the modern British English pronunciation of 'Ind-i-an' (3-syllables) is different from that of RP in Victorian times and earlier.

    My guess is that it would have been approximately Ind-y'n. (2 syllables). No "j" sound , rather a clipped but clear 'd'.

    I'll see if I can find anything further about this.
     
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    mplsray

    Senior Member
    I add my disgust and horror regarding this censorship. I dread to think what the replacement will be, "Native American Joe"? :eek:

    We know the answer to this, because in Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, NewSouth Books, 2011, a version of that classic in which Mark Twain scholar Alan Gribben made a point of eliminated offensive racist terms, not only is Nigger Jim replaced by simply Jim and nigger by slave, but Injun Joe is replaced by Indian Joe and the injun in the injun-meal shorts which I mentioned earlier in this thread is also replaced. From page 75:

    "Barley-corn, Barley-corn, Indian-meal shorts,
    Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts";

    Clarification: I said "a version of that classic," but actually, the book in question combines two books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    This is part of the normal process of assimilation in English, and a word like soldier would originally have a clear /d/ sound whereas today we mainly use /dʒ/ (the first consonant in 'jam'). In the UK some people might pronounce June and dune identically. This is a pronunciation matter, not a spelling matter: no-one would consider writing dune with the /dʒ/ pronunciation as june. Obviously this will differ according to region, social class and personal preference.

    Injun​ is different because it is a matter of spelling too.
     
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