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American press: shameless comment on France and Belgium

 
 
steissd
 
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Reply Wed 19 Feb, 2003 03:09 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
There seem to be such and such.
This is the key. Prior to having posted my thoughts about the ethnic names, I went to the on-line American Heritage Collegiate Dictionary, and its definition of the word Gypsy was absolutely neutral and non-offensive:
Quote:
1. A member of a people that arrived in Europe in migrations from northern India around the 14th century, now also living in North America and Australia. Many Gypsy groups have preserved elements of their traditional culture, including an itinerant existence and the Romany language. 2. See Romany (sense 2).
. The word Romany was used as a synonym.
Quote:
1. A Gypsy. 2. The Indic language of the Gypsies. Also called Gypsy.

When I looked for an obviously derogatory term Kike[/i], it was mentioned as an insulting, and was not considered being a legitimate synonym to the neutral ethnic name Jew
Quote:
Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a Jew.

This made me thinking that the term Gypsy was quite a neutral word, no more insulting than "Hungarian" (instead of Magyar) or "German"/"Allemand"(instead of Deutsch).
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Wed 19 Feb, 2003 03:20 pm
[quote="steissd
This made me thinking that the term Gypsy was quite a neutral word, no more insulting than "Hungarian" (instead of Magyar) or "German"/"Allemand"(instead of Deutsch).[/quote]

And re this subject, there are such and such as well. :wink:
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steissd
 
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Reply Wed 19 Feb, 2003 03:35 pm
I know, Mr. Hinteler. I even quoted your statement at the beginning of mine, and expressed my acceptance of your point of view. All the continuation of my response was a kind of disclaimer of mine, to prevent being attributed to the list of racists for usage of the "politically incorrect" vocabulary. IMHO, these issues are being exaggerated: I have never heard about any German protesting against the term "German"/"Allemand" and demanding reforms in French, English and other languages (you use the terms GDR and FRG yourself, instead of DDR and BRD), but some Romas protest against the term "Gypsy". OK, from now on I shall call them Roma, but I am afraid that some people (not you, of course) may think that I refer to the ancient Romans, Roman Catholics or modern Romanians...
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Wed 19 Feb, 2003 03:39 pm
Well, I wouldn't call a Sinti a Roma.

I don't think, you got the point, steissd. But since we can't discuss on this for days and days, since it isan't of SUCH a great importance, just leave it as you like.
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nimh
 
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Reply Sat 22 Feb, 2003 08:23 am
steissd wrote:
I would not agree with Mr. Hinteler and Nimh regarding the term "Gypsy". [..] the Russian term for Gypsies, "Tsygan" (derivative from the German "Zigeuner") appears even in the Gypsies' own folk songs, and one of the bands in Europe calls itself "Gypsy Kings"...


Well, yes, I think I was pretty clear about that. I mentioned myself already the example of Bulgarian Roma, divided between those calling themselves Roma and those calling themselves Tzigane. And the example of Roma in many other countries who whenever possible prefer not to define themselves as either. And just like everyone else and probably - having been conditioned to survive and make the best of things in often hostile countries - more so, Roma will be pretty pragmatic about self-definitions. "The Roma Kings" wouldnt sell many records - so you use what you can.

This new Roma 'national awareness' is still sketchily developed, but I do think it will grow. All the organisations uniting Roma on an international level already use the word "Roma", I think. You notice it among the (relatively few) highly educated Roma, too. A professor in a class I took in Budapest used the word "Gypsies" even with two of them sitting in his class-room, apparently unaware of the sensitivity of this, and they were outraged. And this was in a course on ethnic relations!

So - yeh, in the end it is like the other examples. If you talk with an Australian or South-African, you'll probably say "Eskimo", cause they wouldnt perhaps know what an Inuit is, and that wouldnt make you a racist either. But once you do know about Eskimo vs Inuit, you'll be considerate about it whenever you go to Canada, say. In the end, when and if many "Indians/Eskimos/Gypsies" decide it's insulting to be called "Indians/et cetera", we simply do have to adapt. You can't just insist on saying "Negro", for example, because "you mean no harm" and the word "has been used for ages", once you become aware that the "Negroes" in question are offended by it - because from then on, it becomes a deliberate provocation (as in "I dont care how you feel about it"). The whole thing is dynamic. A century ago, the dictionary would have given a wholly neutral definition of the word "Negro", like it does now of "Gypsy" - now it warns "sometimes offensive" (www.webster.com).

The comparison with Hungarian/Magyar (or Albanian/Shqip, or whatever) is not so relevant, I think, because it involves a clear Q of national boundaries. Outside Albania, Albanians are called Albanians, inside, they're called Shqip. Here it's about what to call the peoples you actually live in the same place with - by the name you have stuck onto them, or by "their own name". Although, now that you mention it - have you noticed how "Peking" was replaced by "Beijing", in the news, on maps, etc? That was on the specific urge of the Chinese government. So who knows, we might get to say "Magyars" yet. Perhaps when they get their own nukes ;-).
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steissd
 
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 05:19 am
BTW, what is really, the difference between Eskimo and Inuit, and why the term Eskimo seems being offensive? As far as I know, Eskimos/Inuits have never been enslaved, and any attempts to extinguish them have never been undertaken. In Russia the same people are being called Chukchas after the name of their whereabouts -- the Chukotka peninsula. And the latter term can also be regarded as an absolutely neutral ethnic name. I have never heard about any individuals or political groups promoting hatred toward these people, therefore no specifically derogatory name for them has ever been invented.
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Walter Hinteler
 
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 12:24 pm
Eskimos, steissd, are "any member of a group of peoples who, with the closely related Aleut, constitute the chief element in the native population of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Greenland, Alaska, Canada, and far eastern Russia (Siberia)".

Inuits are eskimos from Greenland and Canada.

"[The term] Eskimo has come under strong attack in recent years for its supposed offensiveness, and many Americans today either avoid this term or feel uneasy using it. It is widely known that Inuit, a term of ethnic pride, offers an acceptable alternative, but it is less well understood that Inuit cannot substitute for Eskimo in all cases, being restricted in usage to the Inuit-speaking peoples of Arctic Canada and parts of Greenland. In Alaska and Arctic Siberia, where Inuit is not spoken, the comparable terms are Inupiaq and Yupik, neither of which has gained as wide a currency in English as Inuit. While use of these terms is often preferable when speaking of the appropriate linguistic group, none of them can be used of the Eskimoan peoples as a whole; the only inclusive term remains Eskimo. The claim that Eskimo is offensive is based primarily on a popular but disputed etymology tracing its origin to an Abenaki word meaning "eaters of raw meat." Though modern linguists speculate that the term actually derives from a Montagnais word referring to the manner of lacing a snowshoe, the matter remains undecided, and meanwhile many English speakers have learned to perceive Eskimo as a derogatory term invented by unfriendly outsiders in scornful reference to their neighbors' unsophisticated eating habits. See Usage Note at Inuit."
Source: dictionary.com


IMHO, the dispute is carried on in the USA and Canada. Europeans use the term 'Eskimo' for any of those persons.
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steissd
 
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 01:55 pm
Well, this was the interesting information. But I wonder whether the term "Eskimos" is being rejected by Eskimos/Inuits themselves (just like some of Romae reject the term "Gypsy"), or this is more of the White people's concern?
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 03:21 pm
steissd - Eskimo is considered an extremely racist term here. Some of the Innu/First Nations links I posted in the thread where there was discussion of treatment of Australian aboriginals linked to further information about this.

The concern comes from within the Innu/First Nations community. Sensitivity to that concern is well advised for anyone considering travel in North American or discussion of any Innu/First Nations issues.

(edited to increase sensibility of post)
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nimh
 
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Reply Sun 23 Feb, 2003 05:15 pm
steissd wrote:
In Russia the same people are being called Chukchas after the name of their whereabouts -- the Chukotka peninsula. And the latter term can also be regarded as an absolutely neutral ethnic name. I have never heard about any individuals or political groups promoting hatred toward these people, therefore no specifically derogatory name for them has ever been invented.


Actually, though the name may be used as a container term by Russians, the Chukcha are only one of a range of, partially unrelated, indigenous peoples in the far North of the Russian federation - none of whom fared very well under communism and postcommunism.

There was no specific 'campaign' against them ... after the eastwards expansion of the Russian empire under the tsars had first pushed them back ever further into the taiga and tundra, they were simply forced, by the more thorough early communists, to give up their nomad lives and settle down in newly built townships - in what was partly misguided idealism and partly centralist totalitarianism. Their languages were codified for the first time, but their proud possessions, livelihood and tradition - the herds - were collectivised into state ownership and dwindled soon.

The indigenous peoples were left ignored and unemployed in areas that were increasingly uprooted for gas and oil exploitation, mines, and of course gulag camps - all of which involved the 'import' of great numbers of Russians from south and west, making these Northern peoples sometimes tiny minorities in the autonomous areas and republics that the Soviets had originally assigned to them. With the Russians came alcohol, a new discovery that was adopted with a vengeance and which seems to affect the indigenous peoples' health even harder than Russians themselves. Life expectancy among these peoples now is extremely low as alcohol-related deaths and suicide rates are record-high. Many will have no future. The story is in many ways comparable to that of the Aboriginals in Australia.

I have xeroxes of a great book - or it's more like an extensive report, by the Minority Rights Group perhaps? - about this, I was looking for it just now but I can't find it back in my folders. There's also been quite a few anthropological documentaries about these peoples.

[ Btw - isn't this thread great? I kinda like it if a thread strings itself from one interesting topic to another in a most unpredictable way ... ]
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steissd
 
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Reply Mon 24 Feb, 2003 05:03 am
The problem of alcoholization of the indigenous people of the Soviet Far North is a result of some specific physiologic feature: they evolved in the environment where no vegetarian food was available, therefore they were not exposed to alcohol prior to their first contact with Russians. Their bodies lacked certain alcohol reducing enzymes, and this feature was carved in their genes. Therefore, they were much more prone to development of alcoholism and other alcohol-related diseases than the other people. There was no intended alcoholization of these people: Russians used to drink and Chukchas just adopted such a habit, not knowing that it was lethal for them.
Regarding ways of life: some 5-7 thousand years ago all the people in the world made living from hunting, fruit collecting and primitive agriculture. Since then majority evolved to modern industrial and post-industrial society without any disastrous consequences. Why should such a thing be dangerous for the indigenous people in different parts of the world (Russian Far North, Australia, N. America, etc.)?
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frolic
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 10:41 am
A few days ago an article of the Wallstreet Journal"Belgian soldiers are just barely good for combatting bad breath"
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steissd
 
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Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 10:53 am
Well, if the Belgian army is in such a bad shape, what for Belgium keeps it at all? Peacekeeping requires trained and physically fit soldiers as well... Maybe, Belgians should save taxpayers' money and dismiss their dysfunctional army? I do not see any country in the modern world that plans to conquer Belgium.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 11:02 am
You didn't get it, steissd, I suppose. Or US PR has done its work now completely on you.

http://www.mil.be/def/index.asp?LAN=E
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steissd
 
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Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 11:32 am
OK, let us decide that Belgium does have army. But it is still dysfunctional. Every time the German Army needed to pass through Belgium toward France, Belgians proved their inability to defend themselves...
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frolic
 
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Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 11:49 am
steissd wrote:
OK, let us decide that Belgium does have army. But it is still dysfunctional. Every time the German Army needed to pass through Belgium toward France, Belgians proved their inability to defend themselves...


All small countries have problems defending themselves. But in the first WW Belgium stopped the germans at the river "de Ijzer". Other countries like Holland stayed "neutral". And in the second WW the Belgian army defended the country for 18 days. The Netherlands gave up after 4 days. And the French holded it for about a month. In those days the German army was the most modern and most efficient(Blitzkrieg). If the UK wasn't an Island it would also have capitulated.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 11:56 am
On May 10, 1940, Germany invaded Belgium along with Luxembourg and The Netherlands. The Netherlands capitulated after six days, Belgium after 18. France, which along with Britain had sent troops to Belgium, had to lay down arms three weeks later. The British troops, covered by the Belgian army, retreated from Dunkirk in particularly dramatic circumstances.
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steissd
 
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Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 11:58 am
The country I currently live in is much smaller than Belgium. But it succeeded to defend itself 3 times: in 1948, 1967 and 1973.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 12:02 pm
Starting the "my country-is-stronger-than-yours-game" now, steissd?
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frolic
 
  1  
Reply Mon 3 Mar, 2003 12:02 pm
steissd wrote:
The country I currently live in is much smaller than Belgium. But it succeeded to defend itself 3 times: in 1948, 1967 and 1973.


With a little help from a friend.

And none of the attacking countries can be compared with an army like the Germans had in 1939-1940.
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