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#1825 - 05/01/00 10:44 AM nouns as verbs
tsuwm Offline
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continuing the "verbing of nouns" thread, but starting over due to the OF-dom of the previous, check out this discussion of use of 'service' (and also 'factor') as a verb!

http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/?date=20000501

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#1826 - 05/04/00 10:33 AM Re: nouns as verbs
jmh Offline
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Posts: 1981
I'm happy to use service as a verb - although in slang term it can relate to people as well as animals here - so use with caution!

It would be normal to service a car or a lawn mower.

I'm not sure about "to factor". In maths it would be to factorise. In estate management in Scotland a factor is an estate manager. It's used in finance as a way of reducing debt - is it used as a verb there?



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#1827 - 05/04/00 11:06 AM Re: nouns as verbs
tsuwm Offline
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yes; you should factor all these elements into your reply.

(check the previous link again; I fixed the date...)

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#1828 - 05/04/00 11:20 AM Re: nouns as verbs
jmh Offline
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Posts: 1981
I have no desire to factor anything.

What's wrong with analyse? I could then analyse all the relevant elements in my reply.

I will, however, accept the definition - to engage in the business of a factor (C15: from Latin; one who acts from facere - to do)


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#1829 - 05/04/00 12:41 PM Re: factor
tsuwm Offline
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intransitive senses : to work as a factor
transitive senses
1 : to resolve into factors
2 a : to include or admit as a factor -- used with in or into
<factor inflation into our calculations> b : to exclude as a factor
-- used with out

2a) is the sense used in my previous: any analysis you do should be transparent to, but factored into, your reply. I think the distinction is that we don't "factorize" in math in the US. This is why (at the link) the writer was chastised for using a crude Americanism. (I'm just factoring here. :)

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#1830 - 05/05/00 04:55 AM Re: factor
jmh Offline
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Posts: 1981
It's wierd. So often the difference between US and UK English is completely illogical. This is an example when a simple word "to factor" is used by Americans when we use a more complicated word "factorise".

I know I rail about the differences but as I've said before it's more like the way some people support one football team over another. You sometimes know that your own team has won less trophies or scores less goals but you just support them out of habit!

In these days of political correctness (see previous discussions) we shy away from having strong views about people from different races or with different coloured skin so the only people left to poke fun at as people who are broadly the same as you but differ in some small way. For me well-off WASP American men fit the bill perfectly. I know they can take it on the chin.

Unfortunately with decreasing sperm counts in the West, increasing suicides amongst men who have had their traditional role of hunter-gatherer-provider taken way from them and the increase in single parenthood as women decide that they don't really need a lifelong male partner to rule the roost I might have to reconsider my stance.

All we'll be left to talk about is the weather. Life can be so boring!


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#1831 - 05/05/00 07:18 AM WASP
Philip Davis Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
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I note jmh's use of WASP and wonder if she was thinking white Anglo-Saxon protestant as it is usually quoted. This is one of those redundant thingies since there ain't many black anglo-saxons. I recall Alistair Cook discussing this many years ago and saying the correct form is wealthy anglo-saxon protestant which, of course, makes much more sense. I wonder if the common american habit of denying the existence of a class structure in american society leads to this common tautological version. Certainly I've heard it argued that, in the states, race replaces class as the great social divide and perhaps the tautological variant just reflects this. Any thoughts about, or example of, language reflecting the differences between the social structures of the various english speaking nations.


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#1832 - 05/05/00 07:19 AM Re: factor
tsuwm Offline
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jo,

there's something very disturbing about your latest post that I can't quite put my finger on... oh, I've got it: it's the way you spelled "wierd"(sic) -- must be some sort of Brit aberration.

:-


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#1833 - 05/05/00 04:54 PM Weird
jmh Offline
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Posts: 1981
No it's just a typo - I can't use the spellchecker as it corrects all my weird Brit spelling to even weirder things so I get cross and don't use it so I get typos

Go on then gloat!


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#1834 - 05/05/00 05:16 PM Re: WASP
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I'd always thought that the big story(!) about the USA was that it wasn't supposed to matter who your parents were or your racial origin - the only thing that mattered was $$$$ - is that just a myth?


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#1835 - 05/05/00 05:29 PM Re: nouns as verbs
GZini Offline
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Registered: 05/05/00
Posts: 19
Loc: Washington, DC, USA
Years ago, I had a human resources manager try to teach me "to rebuttal" angry customers. She referred to it as "rebuttaling."

Of course, I rebutted by telling her that the correct word was "rebut," but she rebuttaled right back; she was having none of that.


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#1836 - 05/05/00 05:47 PM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
There was an interesting bit on the radio a while back where an american lawyer had asked for a mortgage on a house which she'd be assured would be no problem when she inquired over the phone. However, when she applied in person she was refused the mortgage on the bases that the property was in an area where property values were dropping. She was black and the area was white.


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#1837 - 05/05/00 05:55 PM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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...and your point is?

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#1838 - 05/05/00 07:15 PM Re: WASP
Jackie Offline

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It sounds to me like Philip is referring to his previous
post re: class differences in the U.S being defined
by race.


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#1839 - 05/05/00 08:39 PM Re: nouns as verbs
Jackie Offline

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"REBUTTALING"??? ack!
That's as bad as when my friend had her dog 'spaded'!


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#1840 - 05/05/00 09:05 PM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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oh, now I get it -- for some reason I hadn't seen the original post in this sub-thread, I think because Philip and I were posting at the same time.

The dynamic working in the case of the black woman being refused the mortgage is the fact that poor blacks moving into neighborhoods really do bring down property values (so for that matter do poor whites, it's just not so "obvious" - until they move in and start to trash the property). Even though this particular woman was a lawyer, the bank knew that this fact would be discounted because of what had been happening. [This actually speaks to the US marketplace; no one takes the long view and everything is about this quarter's balance sheet.] Anyway, class differences aren't quite as black and white as they sometimes appear [no pun intended].

but we digress; this is the stuff of political forums.

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#1841 - 05/05/00 09:15 PM Re: WASP
Jackie Offline

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Tsoo-wums,
cannot resist: wouldn't the word "factor" be an acceptable
replacement for "dynamic" in, "The dynamic working in the
case of the black woman..."?



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#1842 - 05/05/00 10:12 PM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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actually, no; in this case the dynamic comprises many factors. <g>

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#1843 - 05/06/00 05:52 AM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
The point of the women's story is that the bank makes the racist assumption that all blacks are poor. This all arises because my thought that some americans are hypocritical about class (class being closely associated with economic spending power) as shown by the tautological expansion of the acronym WASP into white anglo-saxon protestant instead of into wealthy anglo-saxon protestant.

The very close association of language and politics is one of the great ideas to come out of feminist philosophy. Post-structuralists will tell you how the choice of language used affects political and social behaviour at quite profound levels. Whilst I agree that this BB is about words rather than about language I don't think the digression is completely outside the BB remit (unlike the merit's of duct tape).

I was, and still am, interested in hearing if anyone has other examples of words, or word usage, that reflect these sorts of underlying political and social assumptions and attitudes.


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#1844 - 05/06/00 06:12 AM Re: WASP
jmh Offline
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Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
As ever, I agree with Phillip - words evolve because we need to find ways to express new ideas. The discussion of WASP is appropriate here. Technological and political changes must be amongst the greatest "drivers" for change in a language. The challenge posed to the way we think and talk by anti sexist and racist philosophy has got to be worth a few words.


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#1845 - 05/06/00 09:44 AM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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>The point of the women's story is that the bank makes the racist assumption that all blacks are poor.

I understand... and my point was that the bank may NOT be making that assumption but may be making a business decision based on others' assumptions. In fact, the bank is in a position to know full well the financial state of the lawyer, but also is under the obligation to maintain the value of its property. Of course, the "bank" may, in reality, be a nest of racists.

And speaking of WASPs, I think Mr. Cook may have been indulging in a bit of revisionist history. WASP was coined in 1957 or thereabouts. Here is something from Richard Brookhiser regarding its history:

There was a book called The Protestant Establishment by a man named E. Digby Baltzell. He's still alive. He's a professor emeritus of sociology at Penn, and I actually interviewed him for this book. I said, "Why did you make up the acronym? Why did you turn White Anglo Saxon Protestant into WASP?" He said, "Well, White Anglo Saxon Protestant wouldn't fit on a chart. Too big to fit on a chart." I think he was pulling my leg because the fact is if the acronym had spelled out crickets or ants or some insect that people kind of like, it wouldn't have caught on. The fact that it spelled out an insect that stings, that doesn't make honey, that's mean-tempered, that's unpredictable, that's why people grabbed it, because it was a hostile term.

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#1846 - 05/06/00 01:12 PM Re: WASP
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
To get back to words ...

So I don't need to be rude about WASP's - the word says it for me already - its rather waspish.

A good word to do with class is "aspirational" - everyone is selling lifestyle today. We don't sell the thing itself we sell the image. We used to talk of things being "classy" but I think that is less favoured now that we like to think we are living in a classless society.


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#1847 - 05/06/00 01:13 PM Re: WASP
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Of course an "asp" isn't entirely a pleasant creature, so that would have worked too.


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#1848 - 05/06/00 08:56 PM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
The point of the women story was that the bank changed it's judgement not before it had received the relevant information (she was from out of town and had been phoning and writing the details to the bank) but only after it had become aware of the irrelevant piece of information of the women racial origin. Up until they met her the bank was happy with her status.
And, of course, jo is right to point out that there is no need for the redundant white, I still contend that this redundance is motivated, possibly sub consciously, by racist thinking.

It has to be said that many words and much language reflect racist thought through many ages. A large number of abusive term used are racist; philistine, vandal, pillock, bugger, tory, hooligan are some of the less obvious. Then there is the way that fairly straight forward early english words have become taboo since the Norman conquest to be replaced by french and latin terms and euphemisms. There are still many sections of the british working people who use a -house rather than a toilet but their, original, germanic, language is frowned upon by many.


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#1849 - 05/07/00 09:39 AM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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>Of course an "asp" isn't entirely a pleasant creature, so that would have worked too.

At the risk of "obviousizing" (how's that for moving back to the vicinity of the original topic) the Brookhiser quote, I think that Professor Baltzell purposefully chose the "White" in WASP to not only make a waspish acronym, but to add emphasis to the *white part of the equation. (I'm factoring here :) Actually, Baltzell (who died about four years ago) coined the phrase without irony. He described himself as a conservative (but not a rightist) and said that he believed in meritocracy and that the US has become a "classless" (emphasis on the lowercase) society. "I am for leveling upwards instead of leveling downwards. Lincoln said, 'You can be as good as I am.'" Baltzell complained about how today's leaders want everybody to be the same, as mediocre as one another.

I'll only add that I write this nothwithstanding the way in which some use and understand WASP today.

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#1850 - 05/07/00 01:41 PM Re: WASP
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
It wasn't entirely a serious comment but thanks for "filling me in".

Margaret Thatcher (our own dear leader) was keen to talk about the "trickle down effect" - as the rich got richer then so would the poor. It also worked for the trickle down effect of the water from the roof of the South Bank Centre in London onto the homeless souls in the cardboard city below - I suppose that's the problem with such expressions. Her successor was keen on a classless society and tried the phrase "back to basics" to make us feel more moral. It took his party back to basics in parliament - he lost most of his cabinet in a torrent of "sleeze" cases as they failed to demonstrate their moral fibre.

Any idea when "sleeze" became such a popular word?


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#1851 - 05/07/00 02:21 PM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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>It wasn't entirely a serious comment but thanks for "filling me in".

...as my reply wasn't entirely aimed at you, Jo. <g>


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#1852 - 05/07/00 03:09 PM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
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>Any idea when "sleeze" became such a popular word?

would you believe that the correct spelling is "sleaze", which is itself a backformation from "sleazy"? <g>
I'm guessing that this particular deviant behavior may be driven by the music business; e.g., The Sleeze Brothers, sleeze rock.

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#1853 - 05/07/00 04:25 PM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
That Professor Baltzell choose to use a tautology says a couple of things to me.
1. the term shows an underlying racism in it's constructor. Denying an economic factor in social structure then only leaves gender or racial differences to explain inequality.
2. He had a poor appreciation of language.
Having said that I probably agree that many politicians and almost all bureaucrats encourage people to be mediocre, though for reasons of ease of control rather than any political attempt to produce an equitable society.
Equal is one of those words which I really wish was used with the precision of mathematics. In maths two horizontal lines means equal to, three horizontal lines means identical to. The two symbols may be equal but are not identical.


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#1854 - 05/07/00 04:58 PM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
I was just rereading this sub thread and noticed I'd misread tsuwm's second post in this subthread. I see now that you may well be suggesting that the bank was presenting the facts of the situation to the women. That if she moved into the area, because americans are racists, it would devalue the property and they would be financial at risk. As I recall this story the bank did not directly and honestly say this to the women but came up with stories to hid this racist truth.
A hearty cheer to all institutions who are willing to risk some money to do what is right and a deep boo to those that put profit before conscience.

Having said that I absolutely deny as a fact that poor blacks (or whites) trash property. Whilst it is true that some do this is by no means a totality. That unconscious forces lead some people to produce an environment that reflects how they see themselves is a truth missed on many who would greatly reduce this problem if they boosted people esteem by properly valuing and rewarding their contributions to society (but this is a political thread)


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#1855 - 05/08/00 02:32 AM Sleaze
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
twu
For a change I agree - I meant to say sleaze, sorry to cause confusion.


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#1856 - 05/08/00 02:48 AM Re: WASP
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Phillip - your posting illustrated the problem with all generalisations (I didn't hear the original story so I don't know enough background to be sure of what really happened but I'm sure your interpretation is valid)

Generalisations are the essence of any "ism". We start off by saying that people from Mars (for example) smell. We can prove that they don't smell, so the slur moves on to - people from Mars might come here and take my job - once that is proven to be wrong it moves on ...

I've noticed here that now that the (largely racist) tabloid press realise that it doesn't look good to say racist things they have moved on to refugees (implying they are after money and a "better" life rather than fleeing torture and worse). I suspect it is just a coded way of saying the things they have always said but picking on a particularly vulnerable group who are least able to speak up for themselves. Any imperfect act by a refugee is magnified until it is taken as read that "these people" are only out for themselves.

I've set up a new thread over in Miscellany in case anyone wants to discuss the subject of words and politics.



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#1857 - 05/08/00 05:31 AM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
Before moving over to Jo's new thread I just wanted to make clear that in a previous post in this thread my post was edited (censored) without my knowledge or consent. In the sentence "There are still many sections of the british working people who use a -house rather than a toilet but their, original, germanic, language is frowned upon by many." I wrote s h i t (as one word without the spaces but with spaces here to allow it to bypass the automatic censor - this gives the word much more emphasis than I wanted) house. This censorship rather proves my point that political and racist forces affect the words we use.


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#1858 - 05/08/00 05:57 AM Censorship
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Interesting - it's not a particularly offensive word. In the UK the f***y word I used earlier (rhymes with funny) is much worse (so it only looks at US usage, as ever)

I suppose (speaking as a parent) there is so much unpleasant stuff around on the web it a difficult isssue. There is "net nanny" type software around but I understand that it picks on certain words, so sites which give genuine advice about protection from HIV would be blocked as well as other innoffensive sites.

As the aim of this discussion is an academic discussion of word usage but is open to the entire world it might not be entirely a bad thing to use a few *****!


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#1859 - 05/08/00 09:12 AM Re: sleaze
paulb Offline
addict

Registered: 03/17/00
Posts: 460
Loc: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
My trusty Shorter Oxford (a present from my work colleagues on my retirement -- and now being put to much good use!) dates sleaze from mid-20th century and, as tsuwm mentioned, is a backformation from sleazy (also sleezy -- from mid-17th century). It can also be used to describe a fabric which is thin or flimsy in texture.


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#1860 - 05/11/00 01:55 PM Re: verbage
tsuwm Offline
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Jo,
It occurs to me that, when combined with your original "to author" thread, we have surpassed the volume of the "begging the question" thread here. Allow me to be the first to attaboy you. (how many bases have I covered with that coinage?)

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#1861 - 05/11/00 02:17 PM Re: verbage
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
So much hot air!


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#1862 - 05/11/00 10:44 PM Re: WASP
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10513
Loc: this too shall pass
a few days ago, Philip wrote:

"That Professor Baltzell choose to use a tautology says a couple of things to me.
1. the term shows an underlying racism in it's constructor. Denying an economic factor in social structure then only leaves gender or racial differences to explain inequality.
2. He had a poor appreciation of language."

I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but my curiosity was piqued regarding this and so I sought out Baltzell's book, "The Protestant Establishment" (the subtitle itself is somewhat instructive: Aristocracy & Caste in America) -- it took me a few days to acquire it since it was only available from our central library.

I'll try to give a brief explanation of the genesis of WASP.
First, to lend some context, this stuff was written in the mid 50s and early 60s. Baltzell's central thesis was that the aristocracy of the Victorian age was a good thing in that it was the source of leadership; this was of course an Anglo-Saxon tradition. His contention was that there came to be a crisis in American leadership by the middle of the 20th century, partly due to the declining authority of an establishment which was now based on an increasingly castelike White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant upper class, which had been realizing great success but was not producing equivalent leadership. My reading of this is that he coined WASP to differentiate what was, he felt, a racist caste system (thus the added emphasis on the seemingly redundant white/protestant) -- in over-simplified terms, Anglo Saxon tradition = good, WASP = bad. He was, in his way, the very antithesis of a racist.

Hope this clears up some of the confusion....

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#1863 - 05/12/00 02:43 AM Re: WASP
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
Interesting. The more I learn, the more it becomes clear that there is a great pressure in the states to deny economic factors in explaining political and social structures. I think I implied before that the English class system is basically racist (poor anglo-saxon peasants and wealthy norman-french lords), so my contention about Baltzell stands (but see below with regards to racism). I'm not sufficently informed to comment on a crisis in american political leadership but from this side of the pond american pop cultural and economic leadership appears to have done fairly well. Having said this one of the aspects of the british aristocracy that I do admire was a wide spread belief in stewardship of the land (and stewardship more generally) - The belief that land must be cared for for future generations. This long term view is sadly lacking in much of todays leadership who's consideration is only for the next election.
On further consideration I have changed my opinion about Baltzell appreciation of language. He careful choose a term that would be adopted and have widespread use. He clearly appreciated how language works.
Why is it that so many new words are based on acronymes when older terms where much more interesting in their etymology?

I should say that I clearly differentiate between racism and bigotry - racism being a belief the dominate culture or race is superior, bigotry being an intolerence of others. Because of the strong social conditioning almost everyone is racist to some degree (this is clearly illustrated by those distressing experiments where black children pick out white dolls as beautiful and black dolls as ugly) I struggle hard to maintain an awareness of my racism to avoid being bigoted.
By the way it looks like the etymology of bigot might be of some interest.


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#1864 - 05/14/00 03:28 AM Re: factor
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Tsuwm - you win - I've checked it out with some friends here and they all think its fine "to factor" something in. I'll have to go back to grazing with the dynosaurs.


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