Wednesday, June 24, 2009

#70. The Word Niggardly

Black people love words. There’s no getting around it. From “bling” to “booty” to “drive-by shooting,” Blacks have undoubtedly enriched the American English vocabulary. Incredible athletic achievements aside, Black people's top contribution to the American experiment is undoubtedly the new words that have flown smoothly into the vernacular. “You straight trippin dog,” to a new version of "for real" - which Black people say "fizzule".

We can credit Black people for their linguistic achievements—Flava Flav and Mike Tyson come immediately to mind - as top notch, verbose, representatives for their community.

Yet despite their creative knack for inventing slang, pidgins, and complex poetic genres like graffiti and human beatboxing, Blacks tend to be a little wary of Standard English words that contain six or more letters, especially if those words are combined together. Compound words like porch-monkey (the movie Clerks II tries to show white people taking porch monkey back) really throw Blacks into a rage, and they’re known to thereby justify any act of violence against anyone unfortunate enough to say these or other words that discomfort or confuse them.

Black people, however, do not like the word "niggard" or its more common usage, “niggardly,” for example. “Niggardly” means a miser, someone who is stingy. But for Blacks, “niggard” means…well, you know what it means. Black people automatically assume using the word niggardly is a racial pejorative, when in fact it is a fine word to denote someone who is parsimonious, primarily in tipping.

In fact, many white people have used the term "niggardly" before at their job, in a mulitracial setting, and found themselves deprived of that vocation soon thereafter.

Strange though, the etymology of the word "niggard" derives from 1366:
1366, nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggests Fr. origin (cf. dastard), but the root word is probably related to O.N. hnøggr "stingy," from P.Gmc. *khnauwjaz (cf. Swed. njugg "close, careful," Ger. genau "precise, exact"), and to O.E. hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in M.E.
Numerous uproars have occurred over the term "niggardly", most recently David Howard:
"David Howard, the white director of a Washington D.C. municipal agency [..] told his staff that, in light of budget cutbacks, he would have to be "niggardly" with funds. An uproar followed that resulted in Howard's resignation, which was accepted by Mayor Anthony Williams on the grounds that Howard had shown poor judgment.

Even some of the commentators who admitted that they knew that "niggardly" has no relation to "nigger" (the origins of the first word predate those of "nigger" by about 300 years) still condemned Howard. They were answered by the columnist Tony Snow, who wrote, "David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who

a) didn't know the meaning of the word 'niggardly'

b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the word's meaning and

c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance."

"Niggardly" sounds, to the Black ear, too much like the term "nigger" or "nigga", which Black people are allowed to say to each other, but White people cannot. A white person saying the word "niggardly" or "nigga", let alone the mother of all hate words, "nigger" is grounds for expulsion from work, or in some cases, death.

Equipped with a biological capacity for language which rivals that of macaws (Zulu and other Bantu languages average about 20,000 documented words, while English and French have several hundred thousand), Blacks tend to overlook troublesome letters and simply go with their instincts. This leads not only to their extraordinary talent for misconstruing harmless phrases or words - like niggardly -, but also to their ability to create nonsensical words out of thin air, giving them an undeniable edge in scatting, freestyle rap, and slam poetry.


hey_you said...

" a new version of "for real" - which Black people say "fizzule"."

A lot of Blacks now say "fo'-shizzle" instead of "fo'-sho" for the phrase "for sure."


And yes, Blacks are MUCH more nonverbal than all other races - that is the main reason why African languages have so few words. They communicate much more via nonverbal methods and cues as compared to all other ethnic/racial groups in the world.

Anonymous said...

Yup. Blacks are pretty non-verbal in their native culture. If they didn't like you, or you trespassed whether intentionally or inadvertantly, they didn't try to tell you why they were angry. They just killed you and ate you. Today, of course, it is illegal for a black man to eat you. Their killing you is overlooked and excused because, well, they are blacks and it's cultural doncha know?

Anonymous said...

"Black people automatically assume using the word niggardly is a racial pejorative, when in fact it is a fine word to denote someone who is parsimonious, primarily in tipping."

Bahaha blacks don't tip!

Anonymous said...

It's an elitist word anyway. Just can't bring yourself to say "stingy," can you? It's just not erudite enough.

People say "niggardly" precisely because they get a rise out of upsetting those who mistake the word for "nigger." Stop saying "niggardly" not because it's the politically correct thing to do. Stop saying "niggardly" because it's a dumb thing to say.

Anonymous white guy

Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech up in this party here fo-shizzle.

Anonymous said...

This is severely unfunny.

I was really hoping for something clever like the "Stuff White People Like" website.

Maybe someone with a little wit should try this at a later date.

Anonymous said...

...and dude, fo shizzle is like SOOOOOO 2002!!!

If you are going to opine on black people, try to keep up, please.

Anonymous said...

Hey "anonymous white guy"...You're exactly the kind of dumb mother-f*cker that is ruining this country. Sure, the people who purposely say niggardly to piss people off are jerks. But are you seriously suggesting that we should intentionally gut our vocabulary to avoid saying a word that sounds like an unrelated word that we shouldn't say? Fuck you, and every uneducated P.C. thug like you.

Anonymous said...

My iPhone automatically spells this word when I'm trying to spell nigga. I like that word and call everybody it except black people. I don't mean it as anything racial so does that make me a racist.

Anonymous said...

This is about as funny as an 8th grade conversation between some white boys about the black kids in school. Its juvenile and stoopidly racist

Anonymous said...

My favorite part is that now white people cant use a perfectly good word just because black people get butthurt about it. I might just have to start going around saying Niggardly and keeping a grocery bag of pocket dictionaries that I can throw at anyone who dares to challenge me using that word

Anonymous said...

I hate niggardlies!

Anonymous said...

I could understand getting upset if the word were niggerdly. But niggardly? I don't think that niggar is a noun. Hmm, Stop being a dumb niggar. Guess it does work.

Anonymous said...

I love that niggars come on this site and try to make logical statements.