Son of a Bitch

Yeah, I mean, I don’t want to get too political. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry’s got their hot take on Donald Trump, so I want to keep things focussed on language: grammar, etymology, stuff like that. Hang on, let me just have a quick look at Twitter before I write… He’s said what!?…

On Friday, Donald Trump, somehow President of the United States, weighed in on the controversial issue of professional American-football players protesting against racial injustice and police inequality towards African Americans. He naturally employed all the gravitas and diplomacy one would expect of his office, and said the following:

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They’re all racist, aren’t they?

But the Irish are racist, aren’t they? (internet commenter, 2016)

I don’t mean to be racist, but the Poles are the racist f**kers on the planet. (idiot who won’t be named, 2000)

Recently, I came across the first sentence above, somewhere deep in the comments section of an article I’ve long since forgotten about. I was surprised, as I didn’t consider myself to be racist, nor did the majority of my compatriots seem to be. Reading on, things were cleared up a little.

I came to realise that the person was referring to a belief that Irish-Americans are racist. Which let me off the hook, but then I remembered that the article was about an Irish actor, as in, from Ireland, so the person was not only indulging in wild generalisations, but also conflating being Irish-American with being Irish. There was a whole heap of confusion going on. Continue reading

Ethnic

Here are the Google-Image search results for the word ethnic.

https://www.google.ie/search?q=ethnic&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj18uHb5P7QAhUFCsAKHUBaBmQQ_AUICCgB&biw=1366&bih=651

It’s probably not too surprising: lots of ethnic designs of the style you’d expect. But my question is: what exactly is an ethnic design?

The word ethnic means related to a specific population subgroup with a common cultural tradition. Referring to something as ethnic in and of itself is therefore effectively meaningless. Everybody and everything is basically ethnic, as we can all be identified as belonging to some particular ethnic group. When we talk about ethnic design, the same principle should therefore apply: any design is by definition ethnic. Of course it can be more specific than that. You could argue that ethnic design could refer to a design that is unique to a specific culture, and considered traditional within that culture. Continue reading

Too Many Cucks

Cuck seems to be the insult du jour, especially since the American presidential election. It’s primarily used by members of the alt-right movement, though I’m loathe to dignify those who identify themselves so with anything approaching membership of an actual political movement. The alt-right claim that they’re offering an alternative to traditional conservative politics in the United States, but to be honest, they just seem to me to be a formless mass of vaguely-connected misogynists, racists, and people who generally seem to be unhappy with themselves, and project that self-loathing outwards. All that seems to unite the alt-right is hatred.

Hatred and fedoras.

What do they mean when they call people cucks? It’s become a kind of catch-all insult, but I have heard it described as referring to people who support the advancement of others over the advancement of their country. Which seems like a really tortuous attempt to link its use with its original meaning. Cuck is an abbreviation of cuckold, which for most of its history, has referred to a man whose wife is having an affair with another man/men. It comes from the old French cucuault meaning cuckoo, the bird that lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. Continue reading