Friday, February 27, 2015

A Cracker

Language is always something evolving. New words are added. Old ones are lost. Occasionally you come across a word you are surprised about because you did not know it. Two nights ago I was surprised that R was not familiar with the word hipster. It is such a loaded word, and lordy, if you add beard in front of it, a bearded hipster, it can be thoroughly derogatory.

I thought the name came from hippies, but as R said, the only hipster I know is the low rise pants. Hipster pants of the seventies? That is what is is all about. I am generally not so keen on hairy men, and I remember the warnings of my childhood, never trust a man with a beard, but I find some bearded hipsters pretty hot.

Oh, I meant this to be be salient and I ran off on a tangent before the third sentence was started. While waiting for the lift one day with Sister and Little Jo, I began the rhyme in reference to which lift would arrive first with Eenie Meenie,  Miny Mo, Catch a Nigger by the toe.

Sister: "Brother, you can't say that".

"What?"

"It is tigger, you can't catch a tigger by the toe."

"What's a tigger?"

Yes, as I often am, I was being a little disingenuous.

I feel in Australia, we can get away with saying the word negro, but probably not nigger. Well, maybe not really negro either. Is black person offensive?

This is not a word familiar to me but I have learnt about it. Its origins are when black slaves on plantations were hit by a whip to make them work harder or as a punishment. Crack the whip, the person who cracked the whip was the Cracker and white.

In modern terminology, black people would like the word cracker to be a term like nigger, derogatory.

Allow me you to give you a context, and if US readers are also rolling their eyes and not knowing about cracker, then I am probably way off key. I do believe that cracker is a word among popular black culture in the US though.

"Come to the party bro".

"I ain't goin' man. The room will be full of crackers."

24 comments:

  1. I'm not familiar with 'cracker' other than as a word for small fireworks.

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    1. Victor, as a reasonably prolific movie watcher, I thought you may know.

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  2. I only know 'hipster' as being related to jeans.
    Cracker - was a cracker of a night. Word long forgotten by me, but when read it came back.

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    1. WA, I guess using cracker like that relates to the fireworks and celebrations.

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  3. cracker is a kind of sweet in BRe which you give for Christmas

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    1. Gosia, that is new to me.

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  4. to me a cracker is a small crisp biscuit often eaten with cheese or dips. Or a firecracker, or the cracker, usually silk, on the end of the whip. I'd never heard it about the operator of the whip. Nigger is one I heard a lot growing up, I didn't like it even then, but mostly because of the tone used when people said it. Like negroes were to be hated and feared because they were a different colour, not quite hman because they weren't white. yet summer after summer, the white people would roast themselves on beaches trying to get as brown as possible. Ha Ha. In his later years my dad got meaner as the cancer took hold, (he might have got meaner even without that I suspect) and used derogatory terms for so many people.

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    1. River, I did not know the whip context. While I had heard the word nigger when I was growing up, it was not one anyone used that I recall. We had had our own derogatory words for our black population, heard often enough. It is odd that we don't take pride in our white skin and want to be 'coloured'.

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  5. Darling Andrew,

    The Americans seem to have 'evolved' the English language into a form which we barely understand these days.

    A cracker to us goes with cheese in the main. Indeed Jacob's Cream Crackers bring back fond memories of childhood when, generally, most things were quite tasteless.

    Only very recently did we learn of the term 'onesie'.......a garment, all in one, generally of a fluffy warm fabric, that one spends time 'lounging' around in! Needless to say......we do not possess one......or two..!

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    1. JayLa, onesies have been around here for a while and are subject to some humour and derision. As for anyone actually wearing one, not that I know of except perhaps the baby version, known to me as a jump suit. No JayLa, I can't imagine you curled up on a sofa in a onesie.

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  6. You can imagine growing up in Africa there were many descriptive words for Africans none of which I used and am really shocked when I ever hear them used in Australia by the many South Africans who have settled here. As for hipsters, I think P might be one, he has sprouted a kind of growth around his mouth :)

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    1. Grace, perhaps it is that South Africans felt their language was being repressed and once here, realise they can say what they want. I think it will only be the migrating generation. If Wil Anderson can be a hipster at his age, then probably P can be too.

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  7. Andrew

    perfect timing to be talking about the real meaning of English words! In the news this morning, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison accused some colleagues of "political bed-wetting". The ABC then said that Australians don't use the expression normally and suggested what the minister might have meant.

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    1. Hels, I have heard the expression but at such an early hour in the morning, I really can't think what it means. Morrison is a moron.

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  8. I've heard the word cracker in a racial context...I think more on TV than real life. I don't think it carries as big of a weight as its counterpart. Maybe it did in the past though?

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    1. Dina, I doubt it ever will but I am pleased you have confirmed the word exists in that context.

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  9. It seems to be back to black, here. You don't hear African American much. In my totally backward town, you hear colored.

    I always thought Cracker was white trash. I will consult the Urban Dictionary....poor rural southern whites.

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    1. Susie, I expect you may be correct about the word's origins, but perhaps it is being pushed to embrace more white people.

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  10. I know about having to say ‘black people’. That’s fine with me. I have never heard the expression ‘Cracker’. That’s a dry biscuit over here. For cheese. I doubt that I’ll ever not say ‘pass me a cracker’.

    re your previous post. Of course Australia is massive. It’s a continent not a little country. Mostly empty, of course, but lot’s of it.

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    1. Friko, if no-one passes the cracker, I will just help myself. More than any other country or continent, we tenaciously cling to the more fertile coastal lands and major cities like none other. I think I read that we are the most urbanised country in the world.

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  11. I grew up with the older, politically incorrect version of eenie meenie. Had no idea how racist it was until I was much older.

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    1. Quite so Ad Rad. Nor did I ever associate golliwogs with black people. Australia had its own derogatory words, which have almost, but not quite, disappeared.

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  12. Cracker isn't used as much now as when I was younger, and can be a bit of a catch-all term. It's used to mean ignorant, or racially biased, white trash, and so on. Sometimes it's used as a generic word for any white person from the South. I've heard or read many explanations for the origin of the term, but the one generally accepted as true is the on about the whip.
    Although the state I live in (Indiana) is located north of the Mason-Dixon line and was a member of the Union, there were scads of Southern sympathisers. The head, aka the Grand Dragon, of the KKK was located in a town not far from where I grew up, and lynchings which occurred in that town inspired the Billie Holliday song 'Strange Fruit'. I still recall seeing signs on the edges of small towns which read "Nigger, don't let the sun set on your face in this town." Cross burnings still happen here, had one burned in my front yard when I was younger. I stay because I'm too stubborn to leave; being a cheery, polite. wrench in the works brings me immense satisfaction.

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    1. All very interesting Jacqueline. So much better to get a view from a local. So why would a cross be burnt in your front yard? You don't look black, so I can only assume you were openly and publicly against racism.

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