Ethnic Slurs - World Culture at its Worst
Roadjunky, Posted Apr 26, 2007
“Racial prejudice is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It really is. It’s a terrible thing to treat a decent, loyal Indian like a nigger, kike wop or spic.” (_Chief Halhoat to Yossarian in Catch 22_)
The traveler ends up being called many names around the world and few of them are all that nice. Don’t worry, immigrants have been putting up with this kind of shit for years. Following the inspiring quote comes a list of some of the most prevalent and etymologically interesting.
“Racial prejudice is a terrible thing, Yossarian. It really is. It’s a terrible thing to treat a decent, loyal Indian like a nigger, kike wop or spic.“ (Chief Halhoat to Yossarian in Catch 22)
Abbo – A corruption of Aboriginal_ and still very offensive. Then again in a country like Australia where the Aboriginal people were being slaughtered into the 20th century, it’s no surprise that Abbo is still in popular use in the countryside where attitudes are still pretty ignorant.
Aborigines call themselves blackfellas, as opposed to -whitefellas_.
ABCD – American-born confused desi. Desi is a a word from India meaning countryman and so ABCD is for second generation Indians in the US. Naturally, the temptation to extend it all the way to Z has been overwhelming and the best American society has come up with is “American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, House in Jersey, Kids Learning Medicine, Now Owning Property, Quite Reasonable Salary, Two Uncles Visiting, White Xenophobia Yet Zestful“
Boong, boang – barfight-provoking insult to aborigines in Australia, coming from the Australian slang bung which means dead, infected or dysfunctional. The New Zealanders use Boonga to refer to Pacific Islanders.
Camel Jockey – dumb term for Arabs.
CBCD – Canadian Born Confused Desi. See ABCD
Chink – Pejorative name for Chinese, Vietnamese or any oriental with slanted eyes.
Dago – another offensive name for Italians and Italian-Americans, a corruption of the name Diego.
Farang – Any foreigner in Thailand is immediately a farang and the word is associated with tall, hairy, clumsy people who don’t wash very often. Farang is actually one of many derivatives of Frank (French) via Arabic and Farsi.
Ferengi – probably better known to most as an alien race in Star Trek, ferengi is the word used by Indians to refer to foreigners and has the same roots as farang (see above).
Frog – used by ignorant English people to refer to the French on account of frog’s legs forming part of the national cuisine.
Gaijin – Any foreigner in Japan is automatically a gaijin and this reflects Japan’s centuries of isolation from the polluting influences of the outside world – finally broken down when an American war ship insisted on trade, which is a revealing enough phenomenon in itself in a global economy.
Foreigners in Japan typically live in a gaijin house.
The Japanese, like many other nations, imagine themselves to be a superior race and so gaijins are to be either pitied, disdained or feared, depending on the inclination of the Japanese in question.
Gidi – Slang used by the Spanish for the British tourists who get drunk, violent and altogether messy along the Costa Brava north of Barecelona. The origin is a little uncertain but could it refer to ‘_giddy_’ , reflecting the average drunken state of the English tourist abroad.
Flip – Filipino, easy to see how the word evolved,
Goy – a non-jew and is a biblical word meaning nation. Can also be used to amongst Jews to insult someone who’s lost religion.
Gringo –probably from griego, Spanish for Greek as in ‘_it’s all Greek to me_’. It was in use long before the Mexican-99american war and by that time the soldiers all wore blue uniforms. Gringolandia has become a name for the US which is a bit of a mouthful as los estado unidos. In Peru, Argentina and Uruguay, a gringo is simply a foreigner.
Honkie, honky – comes from hunky, slang for those of Hungarian or Slavic descent. The first use was in the 1900’s when wealthy white men wanting black prostitutes would drive their car to the edge of a black neighbourhood and honk the horn.
The Black power movement revitalized the term in the late 60’s as some kind of defense against nigger.
Jock – Perjorative name for Scotch soldiers which has somehow stuck. In rhyming slang it’s ‘smelly sock’.
Kaffir, kaffer, kaffir, kafir – comes from the Arabic kafir, meaning infidel or unbeliever. The British took up the word to refer to displaced tribes and then the South Africans took it from there and brought a particular meanness to the word.
Krout – Again, a favourite of racist English people to refer to Germans, sauerkraut featuring on the German menu.
Kyke – offenseive slur for Jews. As most famously used in the screenplay by Michael Herr in Kubrik’s Full Metal Jacket where the seargent yells:
“There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops, or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless.“
Limey – American slang for the British on account of the innovation on British ships of rationing limes to the sailors to prevent scurvy. Inoffensive.
Monkey – anyone black was called a monkey or an ape in much of the white world as it was assumed that Africans were one step away from the jungle. Funnily enough, Colombians call anyone white mono or monkey.
Nigger – There’s a passage in Mark Twain’s excellent Huckleberry Finn where theres an account of a small explosion and Huck is asked if anyone was hurt. “_Nope_,” he replies, “Killed a nigger
Nigger obviously comes from negro and nowadays only white people with a death wish would use it in a black neighbourhood but of course the rap generation has claimed the word for themselves and now a nigger is little far removed from homeboy.
But then, as observed in one of the best movies ever made about race, Crash, it’s not as if white people go around calling themselves cracker.
Nip – Japanese person. Very offensive but actually fairly innocent in that the Japanese call their country Nipon.
Paddy – Perjorative name for the Irish, a corruption of Ireland’s favourite saint, St Patrick, honoured every year on March 14th by drinking enough Guiness and whiskey to enter an exalted state.
Pikey – “_I fucking hate Pikeys_!’ Thanks to the movie, Snatch, everyone now knows what a Pikey is, though it also refers to the Irish as well as gypsies. Not a pleasant word by any account.
Plastic Paddy – someone with only a very vague claim to Irish ancestory who still likes to think he’s faithful to the old Ireland by drinking too much guiness and then trying to play percussion on the spoons.
Pakky – i.e. someone from Pakistan. Following the immigration of tens of thousands of Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis to England in the 60’s and 70’s, those disposed to racism in England had no idea how to differentiate between all these brown-skinned hard-working people who were opening up corner shops and ‘taking our jobs’.
Thus respectable Hindus from South India found themselves with a new Pakistani identity which was especially ironic as there’s little love lost between India and Pakistan. Indians will often tell someone to get lost by saying ‘_chalo Pakistan_’ – ‘go to Pakistan’.
Pom, pohm, pommy, pommie – Pom is used to refer to English people in Australia which is weird because it literally means Prisoner Of Mother England, so technically it best describes the ancestors of most Australians when the continent was where England deported a good deal of their criminals.
Rostbif – ‘Roast Beef’ is what the French sometimes call the English, presumably for their predilection for a Sunday Roast with beef on the table.
Sand Nigger – nasty slur for Arabs on the basis that they all supposedly live in deserts.
Spic, spick, spik – Fairly nasty slang for anyone of Latin American descent, sometimes including Spanish and Italians. Spic might come from jeers at Central Americans’ attempts to communicate with ‘_I no spic ingles, senor_’. Or it might also come from spig, which was used to refer to Italians and comes from spaghetti.
Spic and Span – outdated slang to refer to a mixed Puerto Rican and black American couple.
Taff – Perjorative name for Welsh people, coming from the River Taff and best expressed in the old ditty ‘_Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief_…” Hence the racist origins of the word ‘to welch‘.
Wetback – very offensive name for Mexicans who supposedly entered the US by swimming the River Grande.
Wog – This originally stood for ‘Wily Oriental Gentleman’ which, whilst betraying a suspicion that all Orientals were full of guile and cunning, was hardly as offensive as wog is today when applied to anyone from Asia.
Wog also refers to anyone from the Middle East or Mediterranean in Australia and second generation Australians from those regions have even adopted the offensive term much as the blacks in America have revamped nigger.
Wop – offensive slang for Italians and italain-americans. Some mistakenly believe it comes from WithOut Papers referring to Italians who jumped on a boat to the US without authorization. The reality is that the word probably came from guapo in the times when Italians went to pick grapes in Spain – they had too much luck with the local ladies and the Spanish called them los guapos – the pretty boys in the spirit of the sour grapes they were picking.
Yank, yanqui – Perjorative slang for americans which became popular in Britian during the Secon World War when hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were ‘_over-paid, over-sexed and over here_’.
Yank originally refers to those from the north of the country and New England in particular, maybe coming from Dutch settlers and the word jan kees or John Cheese, a nickname for Dutchmen.
Yank also becomes septic tank in rhyming slang and seppo is sometimes heard in Australia.