the N Word

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stillwater

Member
korean
I am trying to come up with a title for my presentation, in which I talk about how I, as a nonnative teacher, developed confidence about being nonnative after a long period of feelings of inadequacy. I am using the N word for Nonnative teacher, of course.

"Liberating the N Word: A Nonnative Teacher's Turning Point"

Would the above title make sense to the audience?
 
  • preppie

    Senior Member
    American English (Mostly MidAtlantic)
    "The N Word" has significant negative meaning in American English even as a humorous or tongue-in-cheek title, I would avoid it.
     

    stillwater

    Member
    korean
    In a way, "nonnative" also has a inferior status in language teaching. So the N word, I thought, could be used as a paralle example.
     

    preppie

    Senior Member
    American English (Mostly MidAtlantic)
    I defer to others' opinions. In the US it a highly charged reference and may not give you the response or respect you are looking for.
     

    atsamo

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I am trying to come up with a title for my presentation, in which I talk about how I, as a nonnative teacher, developed confidence about being nonnative after a long period of feelings of inadequacy. I am using the N word for Nonnative teacher, of course.

    "Liberating the N Word: A Nonnative Teacher's Turning Point"

    Would the above title make sense to the audience?
    Hi,

    The 'N' word has other, nasty, connotations, especially in the USA. And by the way, can you liberate the word?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I'm surprised by the negative reactions. It seems an obviously clever and light-hearted way of talking about a controversial word that begins with N, with a knowing nod to another one. It seems like a good title to me. And we have a whole tradition of riffing on expressions like 'the L-word'.

    Or does even saying 'the N-word' mean it sounds as if you're saying the N-word? Or as Stephen Colbert put it less succinctly but more wittily: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004351.html
     

    hedley

    New Member
    English - English
    Despite whether it could be deemed offensive or not, should you not be using non-native rather than nonnative?
     

    stillwater

    Member
    korean
    entangledbank, I am glad you thought it was clever. :) I am really surprised that some of you think that the mere mentioning of the 'N' can negatively affect my presentation even before it begins!

    I was inspired by an article entitled, "In Praise of the F Word," where the author talks about holding high academic standards for U.S. secondary schools. Here the F word means the 'Failing' students who haven't reached the academic standard.

    Is the "N" word far 'worse' than the "F" word?
     

    preppie

    Senior Member
    American English (Mostly MidAtlantic)
    In some (I would venture to say most) circles in the US, it is far worse. I agree the use you propose is clever but that doesn't erase the highly negative and racial overtones of the word. You could slip and use the F word and be absolved. You cannot slip and use the N word. It is considered nearly unforgivable.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In AE, the "N-word" (in the original sense) has as its base a very painful history, and far exceeds the "F-word" as a reference that may cause offense. Saying "the N-word" instead of the word it so clearly refers to -- :warning: nigger :warning: -- is a way of acknowledging this history, and indicating that the speaker wants to avoid offense by the casual use of an offensive reference. A joke based on this association may seem to trivialize the painful history behind the word and its use.

    Thus whether or not you should use it depends on your audience, and what your purpose is. Some audiences will not mind; some people like to play with potentially offensive language.

    Personally, I would not use it.

    Edit: preppie posted as I was writing this.
     
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    stillwater

    Member
    korean
    I probably shouldn't use it if it may offend some people. I am just surprised that my pun could be so risky. Honestly, I thought using the phrase to refer to another often discriminated group of people --nonnative English teachers--would work well.

    My audience is college English teachers in the U.S. I was trying to be creative.
     

    mathman

    Senior Member
    English-American/New England
    Personally, I think your humorous intent would be lost on most, if not all, AE listeners, and it would be viewed as extremely insensitive and not at all funny. I strongly encourage you to avoid that title. If you give this talk at an American university (I am a college professor), you would probably find people walking out on your presentation, and the talk itself would probably cause headlines, and not good ones. I hope I am making it clear how bad an idea this is.

    "The F word" as a title to a presentation about Failure is not in the same ballpark at all, as has been pointed out.

    It's not remotely comparable to what Colbert did (which I saw and thought was very funny). I suppose we could start a discussion about why I think there is a difference, but that would take us outside the realm of this forum.
     

    stillwater

    Member
    korean
    I understand that saying the word is bad. However, why is using the phrase "N Word," not the full word, so bad??

    Is it the same as saying it fully?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    If you make a joke about "the N-word", you may seem to be making a joke about :warning: nigger, as though it isn't really such a bad thing to call somebody.
     

    xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Is it the same as saying it fully?
    No, but the allusion you make by doing so is insensitive.

    In a way, "nonnative" also has a inferior status in language teaching. So the N word, I thought, could be used as a paralle example.
    I think you should read Cagey's post #10 again. Again, it is not a connection you should make lightly. I have no trouble believing that you were discriminated against as a non-native speaker of English, but comparing that to the long, dark history of black slavery in the States risks being seen as mountains to molehills.
     
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    stillwater

    Member
    korean
    I just find it so interesting to read comments from AE speakers. I do know the history, but honestly, I am puzzled that even the mere allusion can be so upsetting. Wow... This thread has been a great shock to me.
     
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