dimanche 5 décembre 2010

Neeger -- Negro -- Preto

In the name of political correctness now in Estonia too the word 'neeger' has become a
no-word, instead, people most often use 'mustanahaline'. This is quite odd because 'mustanahaline' means either 'black-skinned' or 'dirty-skinned', and the word 'must' was often used in Soviet times as a derogatory word for black-haired people from Central Asia or Caucasus. All this fuss is the result of primitive understanding of the meanings of words and correspondences between words in different languages. It is naively presumed that the English 'negro' is the same as the Estonian 'neeger'. But it is not so. As is proven by the fact that in Portuguese, the word that was used for Blacks, used to be 'preto'. Nowadays it too has become a politically incorrect word, and instead of 'preto', one must use 'negro'... The morals is that every word belongs to a web of connotations, is connected with other words in its language. In some cases, especially in second class languages as Estonian, these connotations tend to include also words in first class languages, in our case English. And often our language is reinterpreted in the light of such interlingual correspondences. And remodelled to fit better into the patterns established by (American) English. The result is a language using Estonian-sounding words, but having the structure of English. Every word in this hybrid language corresponds to a word in English.

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