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Old 06.06.2011, 10:16
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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I find it amusing that "there was no bullying" according to the board and yet when your husband made his threat this non-existent bullying stopped.
Good Job.

I do not find it amusing but rather surprising that school children need to be formally taught racial epithets.

And yeah, I think it is racist. Most of these sort of things are. It is interesting to see how quickly some people try and defend these actions as just "part of the culture" or "not meaning the same thing here." I have heard an acquaintance use the word and called him on it and he said that it didn't count because he was talking about a white person. Go figure.

Sounds like you are doing a good job. Keep up the good work.
spot on, thanks for posting this
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Old 06.06.2011, 10:25
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Nah, in Austria it's one of the least racist things they say.
Austria is one of the least racist countries in the world, where else can a whiteman become a neger?
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  #23  
Old 06.06.2011, 10:43
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Austria is one of the least racist countries in the world, where else can a whiteman become a neger?
It's one of the most racist countries in Europe.
http://www.uni-graz.at/richard.parnc...minaustria.HTM
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Old 06.06.2011, 10:47
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Well, I wouldn't use it but just to give you an idea of how 'harmless' it is to some, many black cats in Switzerland are affectionately called Mohrli (a 'Mohr' is also a defunct word for a black person) or Negerli / Negi. In the context you stated, yes, it's racist. But you will find little old ladies who will smile with delight at a young child with dark skin and say 'my goodness, what a sweet little Neger' - with zero malicious intent.
Well, you can smile with a delight at these old little ladies (don't get me wrong I totally get your point and love those old little ladies to bits) and say, cutely "my sweet old decrepit souls"...I don't think they would be pleased. Nor understand my culturally justified directness and lack of diplomacy

I have noticed that it feels like 2 dimensions of racism locals might see. When we, as locals, are racist, it is not bad because it is not meant in a bad way (ehm, how does one really know that exactly?) and that bad kind of racism that exists abroad that manifests itself like we see it in movies. Which is the bad one. We aren't because everyone understand we like the "mohrkopfs, neggers, you name it, yugos" and the visual symbols the rest of the world cringes at. I think it is exactly this that allows for certain level of tolerance that medias have here towards racism, political campaigns, etc.

One thing is sweet little ladies referring to people like at the times of their youth, and then another thing is having kids chase another yelling this lovely stuff. Because they know, it does not matter at all.

And, the obligatory disclaimer, we hang out with some lovely locals that cringe at the same stuff. They might hate it even more since they as part of the domestic culture feel a tad responsible things are this way.
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Old 06.06.2011, 10:51
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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A few years ago our son was chased by a group of school children, while being called Näggr (which is a swiss german word used to desciribe black person). At that time, my husband (who is also swiss) had made complaints to the school, but they felt it was not a serious issue and was not something they could resolve as they never saw any bullying of our son. They also felt the word was not offensive in their language. Eventually my husband found out the adress of one of the boys in the group and visited their home. He threatened to take the matter up further with the police and have published a story in the newspaper labelling the family as racist. the threat worked and the bullying stopped.
I'm normally open to stuff and try to see things from all points but, to be honest, hearing that a child has been chased by a group calling him the equivalent of "N**ger" is pretty heavy stuff.

OK, it might be difficult to get a newspaper to run a story that brands a family as racist without some kind of proof or back up and would be rightfully difficult but, still.

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Recently in another school my friends' 5 year old received a homework sheet with a collage of images at the top and a list of words below, which should be paired with the correct image.
On the list was the word Näggr (translates to Nigger in English), with a matching photo of a jet black man with extremely big lips and wild looking eyes. She met with the teacher and complained about it being offensive which was received with surprise, then later followed by an apology.
I since found out that this word is being used in Childrens books and in schools to educate children from as early as pre-school years. Do you think
this is a racist word? It could not be used openly in the rest of the world without causing offence, so why is it accepted by the Swiss?
What was the context of the worksheet? I find it weird in this day and age that they are writing stuff in Swiss German in Kindergarten rather than High German. It doesn't justify the word by any means but I just find it highly unusual that Swiss German, which is rarely "written" anywhere, finds its way into an educational document.

Was the rest of the document written in dialect or just the word Näggr?

Last edited by Sandgrounder; 06.06.2011 at 11:02. Reason: Gobbledigook...
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  #26  
Old 06.06.2011, 11:01
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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One doesn't...it's called a threat.
That's what I thought, too, but I was wondering 'who wouldn't see through that?'
Kudos for hubby going over and having a word and not getting involved in any Swiss passive-aggressive note-passing. :-)
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Old 06.06.2011, 11:43
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Have you really checked in the whole "rest of the world"?
It can be racist, or not. Like saying Schwob to a German or Polak for a Pole. Neger ist still understood as "latin word for the colour black" in many circles I know, it was used without a hint of racism in the 80ies in Hamburg in my childhood, and it is a (kind of) left wing city. In Scandinavia, one starts to take the American's sensitiveness into account but linguistically speaking, it was just the word for a black person. Dear Danish and Swedish forum members, do you still use it or did that change?

In other words: we'll never know if you overreacted or not.
In some Latin countries it is even used affectionately, such as saying "mi negrito". No offence or hint of racism there at all.

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OK, it might be difficult to get a newspaper to run a story that brands a family as racist without some kind of proof or back up and would be rightfully difficult but, still.
I guess you haven't heard of Blick yet?

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Nah, in Austria it's one of the least racist things they say.
Yeah, there was even a guy called Arnie Schwarzen*gger who became governor of California. A good thing Americans don't understand German.

Last edited by economisto; 06.06.2011 at 12:20.
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Old 06.06.2011, 12:15
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

It's entirely racist if used by a white, state employed lawman (gets OJ off a murder rap), but "arty" if used in any HBO production (The Wire for example) and an absolute must if you're a rap artist demonstrating your wholesomeness to other 'hood dwellers. Not quite sure where that leaves us in Switzerland, the Italians get their monikers as do those of Balkan origin. It's all about tact and the correct use of words at the appropriate moment. We can use the most abusive words as terms of endearment to our closest friends, but it could end up in front of a judge if used incorrectly. Human nature; we like to make a bunch of silly rules and then get all technical about how to apply them. I take people by their actions, not their inappropriate use of language.

Some of my best friends are racist, um intolerant, um whatever.....
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  #29  
Old 06.06.2011, 12:17
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

Amogles..

your forum legend... so like... multiquote dawg!!!!
  #30  
Old 06.06.2011, 12:21
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

Fair point Assassin, with close friends, banter goes as far as your group tolerates - I know we certainly go down the F and Cs route fairly often and accuse the others of carrying rampant STDs etc.

I wouldn't dream of saying it to someone i didn't know well, or even less chasing someone down the street yelling it.

OP's husband did the right thing, stop the rot at source, which is clearly the parents - a bit of re-education goes a long way.
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  #31  
Old 06.06.2011, 12:25
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Which reminds me of a childrens story from Wilhelm Busch, where Saint Nicholas (also known as Samichlaus here) teaches bullies not to tease someone for being different.

Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben.



But your original question: Should Nigger be used in Swiss German?
It isnt. Nigger is English slang. Der Neger is German - if you translate this in an online dictionary, this sometimes translate to an offensive word.

Teach your children to be strong and defend themselves and be proud of their abilities, and uniqueness. We're all bloody foreigners somewhere.
It could be I'm wrong, but some of the words in that poem are slightly different to the ones I remember. So maybe this is a politically sanitised version?
  #32  
Old 06.06.2011, 12:46
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

In dutch it is also Neger and not nigger. Just refers to the skincolor......
In any case there is a big difference between a neger or black person and a nigger in my opinion......
  #33  
Old 06.06.2011, 12:48
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Yeah, there was even a guy called Arnie Schwarzen*gger who became governor of California. A good thing Americans don't understand German.
According to my husband, the name is applied to folks with black hair, similarly, in some areas, blond children are called "Tow Head" and even some name meanings indicate a child with fair / white / blond hair such as Blanche, Boyd and Fionn.


So far as the OP goes, of course nägger meant something bad when used in a mean way, children causing distress to another.

In the question about the paper though, I think that it is meant merely as a term for a black person, more similar to "negro" than to "nigger" in intent. The "ä" is pronounced like the ea sound in "bear" so it makes sense to me that it is more along the intent of "negro" in Spanish and Portuguese.

Anyhow, if you're interested / curious, this Wiki page has some tidbits about words used to describe black people and the differences between ones used with intent to offend and ones used with innocent intent, sometimes they switched places even. (Like Negro vs Black and now African American in the US.)
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Old 06.06.2011, 12:50
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

It still remains a word which is linguistically negatively-loaded.

Whether old-fashioned, disparaging, derogatory or downright offensive depends on how, when and by whom it is used.
Perhaps we have become a little over sensitive and PC in recent years, but this is a term which should be avoided if one has the intelligence and enlightenment to do so.

And I agree with economisto about Austria.
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Old 06.06.2011, 12:53
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

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Whether old-fashioned, disparaging, derogatory or downright offensive depends on how, when and by whom it is used.
Perhaps we have become a little over sensitive and PC in recent years, but this is a term which should be avoided if one has the intelligence and enlightenment to do so.
So you are implying that Chapelle does not have it by groaning me?
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Old 06.06.2011, 12:56
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

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A few years ago our son was chased by a group of school children, while being called Näggr (which is a swiss german word used to desciribe black person). At that time, my husband (who is also swiss) had made complaints to the school, but they felt it was not a serious issue and was not something they could resolve as they never saw any bullying of our son. They also felt the word was not offensive in their language. Eventually my husband found out the adress of one of the boys in the group and visited their home. He threatened to take the matter up further with the police and have published a story in the newspaper labelling the family as racist. the threat worked and the bullying stopped.

Recently in another school my friends' 5 year old received a homework sheet with a collage of images at the top and a list of words below, which should be paired with the correct image.
On the list was the word Näggr (translates to Nigger in English), with a matching photo of a jet black man with extremly big lips and wild looking eyes. She met with the teacher and complained about it being offensive which was received with surprise, then later followed by an apology.
I since found out that this word is being used in Childrens books and in schools to educate children from as early as pre-school years. Do you think
this is a racist word? It could not be used openly in the rest of the world without causing offence, so why is it accepted by the swiss?
Your funnyAnd its Neger
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Old 06.06.2011, 12:58
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

Perhaps I didn't understand the film correctly, but just found it bad taste humour.
Please explain, Ouchboy.

(Is it a recent humourous "put-together" and not one really from the Fifties?)
  #38  
Old 06.06.2011, 13:04
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

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Perhaps I didn't understand the film correctly, but just found it bad taste humour.
Please explain, Ouchboy.

(Is it a recent humourous "put-together" and not one really from the Fifties?)
It's Dave Chappelle, it is bad taste humor and it is "current" to some extent... probably something like 5yrs or more old though.

Last edited by Peg A; 06.06.2011 at 13:05. Reason: clarity, maybe
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  #39  
Old 06.06.2011, 13:04
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

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So you are implying that Chapelle does not have it by groaning me?
Chapelle has it, but those kids didn't. And I don't think they will, anytime soon.

Words, per se, don't mean harm by themselves. It's all about context. Some words however do not work well in any public context, when people do not know eachother. The word was obviously used because those kids counted on the word not working in the context, aren't they some clever boys...

It's a cheap shot, undignified way and they will hopefully understand later on. No history lessons about humor, affection and bucolic good old times with good old terms will make it hurt less to that kid, the kids knew what they were doing. It's good when things go public.
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  #40  
Old 06.06.2011, 13:07
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Re: Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

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Perhaps I didn't understand the film correctly, but just found it bad taste humour.
Please explain.
humour is better left unexplained.
Chapelle took it upon himself to display racial stereotypes, by "putting yourself in someone else's shoes" through an extremely funny scenario. Oddly enough the Wetback family was cut off rom the youtube video I put.

He plays the double entendre using the 1950's American dream/oppresion duality of the era.

but this is a joke which should be understood if one has the intelligence and enlightenment to do so. [/sarcasm.]

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It's Dave Chappelle, it is bad taste humor and it is "current" to some extent... probably something like 5yrs or more old though.
If you think that someone who has been on the Inside the Actor's studio and asked to socially deconstruct a sketch for the benefit of the audiance would somehow come as bad taste humor, then you and I differ greatly in taste.
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