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Old 06.06.2011, 00:29
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Should the word "Näggr" be used in Swiss German?

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?
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Old 06.06.2011, 00:32
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

Welcome to the forum - your maiden post after almost 2 years of signing up.
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Old 06.06.2011, 00:41
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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It could not be used openly in the rest of the world without causing offence, so why is it accepted by the swiss?
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.
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Old 06.06.2011, 00:48
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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.
Were the other (bullying) children of African descent?
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Old 06.06.2011, 06:39
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

It is just a word. Nothing wrong with words when used correctly and in context.

However, in this case the word was used to cause distress and offense in a racist manner. Explain this to the school and insist that the matter be dealt with immediately and effectively. Even if the use by the other kids was unintentionally racist or offensive, the net result is offense. Intent should be disregarded as the recipient of these words was, and had just cause to be, offended. This is not a grey area.
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Old 06.06.2011, 07:26
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

In current times the word is not very PC I agree, but I think the world would learn better not to use it if every rap/hip hop singer stopped using it as many times as possible in every song they write, it doesn't set a good example
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Old 06.06.2011, 07:30
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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.

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?
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.
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Old 06.06.2011, 07:42
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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.
Bullying comes from the heart, not from a word. So there may have been bullying, and a word may have been used in an offensive manner.

I could "offensively" call you blonde if i wanted to.

Similar to the word "bloody", as in "that bloody neighbours dog again" - this is a lot more offensive in British English than German (Der blöde Hund des Nachbars..)
Nigger may be offensive to an American, Maoris sometimes use it as a term of affection.
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Old 06.06.2011, 07:46
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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.
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Old 06.06.2011, 08:05
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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.
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.

EDIT: *The title of the thread has since been changed, so this statement no longer makes sense.
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Last edited by Rangatiranui; 06.06.2011 at 12:18.
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Old 06.06.2011, 08:14
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

Also quite common is the sentence in Austria "Jetz bin I Neger worden" I have become a negro, meaning I am broke.
All a matter of context.
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Old 06.06.2011, 08:22
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

it's all about context. a word is a word and it has the power that you want to give it.


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Old 06.06.2011, 08:28
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Also quite common is the sentence in Austria "Jetz bin I Neger worden" I have become a negro, meaning I am broke.
All a matter of context.
that context seems negative to me.
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Old 06.06.2011, 08:44
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

"Jetz bin I Neger worden" Along the lines of "He's a bit of a Jew" - indicating tightfistedness. Not really on.

Does Näggr really mean nigger? Or simply Negro, as in German "Neger"?
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Old 06.06.2011, 08:48
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Näggr (which is a swiss german word used to desciribe black person).


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.

As per your question, no it should not be used, period.

Just one detail: "Neger" translates to "negro" in english. "Nigg**" is not a german word. Still shouldn't be used in school, but it is not as bad as the american n-word.

Are you sure about the spelling (would be help to understand which of the two words was meant? The phonetical writing does not seem very züridütsch to me.
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Old 06.06.2011, 08:58
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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that context seems negative to me.
Nah, in Austria it's one of the least racist things they say.
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Old 06.06.2011, 09:07
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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so why is it accepted by the swiss?
Because they're racist?

[The can of worms has been opened!]
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Old 06.06.2011, 09:10
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

When portrayed on the screen, black English speakers (normally, but not exclusively, British or American), are often heard referring to each other (of the same race) as "nigger"; e.g. "..... hey nigger, what's happenin'?".
In order to avoid offence and controversy, this usage must also translate to, and be based on actual occurrences, in the real world.


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Similar to the word "bloody", as in "that bloody neighbours dog again" - this is a lot more offensive in British English than German (Der blöde Hund des Nachbars..)
Sorry Ranga, to go OT and be a bit picky, but your example doesn't seem accurate in the translation. Although blöde sounds like bloody, it has a meaning of silly or stupid in English, so therefore wouldn't be perceived as strongly as bloody by German speakers.
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Old 06.06.2011, 09:12
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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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.
Just curious...how exactly does one get a paper to publish a story like that?
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Old 06.06.2011, 09:14
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Re: Should the word Nigger be used in Swiss German?

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Just curious...how exactly does one get a paper to publish a story like that?
One doesn't...it's called a threat.
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