di_glossia (di_glossia) wrote in linguaphiles,
di_glossia
di_glossia
linguaphiles

How do you explain reappropriation of offensive terms within a certain country to non-native speakers?

I have a Scandinavian friend with a strong interest in American hip hop culture and especially music. Some time ago, I realized that she was using and misspelling a reappropriation of the N word in informal contexts. While our conversations are rarely politically correct, this term is a massive dividing line for me as a white American. Ignoring the issue of the use of neger in Bokmål, how do you explain to someone that a word she hears used incredibly often is off limits to her because of her skin color? Because people will assume she understands the implications of it or because they will simply not care whether she understands it because she looks like a historically oppressive group? I have no idea how to explain this to her.

It seems to me this would be similar to the use of kaffir in South Africa, but the issue was always related to me as roughly equivalent to the N word and so required no explanation.
Tags: english, english dialects, insults, language history, sociolinguistics
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