Friday, July 5, 2013

Slur: Slinging Mud

Admit it - we all use them

One of the best ways to understand culture and the way people think is to look at the language they use. The words we use to insult others offer a unique insight into our psyche. 
However, do you know the origins of these words? If you knew their original meaning, would you still use them?

A prime example of a commonly used insult is the racial or ethnic slur. These are used by all groups of people to label and define anyone who isn't like them, sometimes even within their own race and ethnicity.

A slur is defined as a deliberate slight. First used in the 1600s, the word originally referred to “thin or fluid mud.” It is derived from the Middle English “slore” Middle Low German “sluren” and Middle Dutch “sloren”, all of which mean “to trail in mud.”
Is this what it means to sling mud?
 The word “slur” is closely related to the East Frisian “sluren”, meaning “to go about carelessly” and the Norwegian “slora”, meaning “to be careless”.  In 1746, “slur” was also used in a musical sense to mean “sliding.”
Being careless with words can be dangerous!
Ethnic slurs are also known as ethnophaulisms (if we want to get linguistically complicated). These words/phrases are insinuations or allegations about a specific ethnicity or refer to them in a derogatory, pejorative, or insulting manner. I will be delving into several of the more common slurs in my next few posts.

In the meantime, what are some of the more colorful or creative slurs you have used or heard others use?

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