Search the FAQ Archives

3 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M
N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z
faqs.org - Internet FAQ Archives

soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Miscellaneous and References (11/12)
Section - Question 19.5: Is "shvartze" offensive? Is "goyim" offensive?

( Single Page )
[ Usenet FAQs | Web FAQs | Documents | RFC Index | Houses ]


Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Miscellaneous and References (11/12)
Previous Document: Question 19.4: What do all those abbreviations like Z"L mean?
Next Document: Question 19.6: What does "shiksa" and "shaygetz" mean? How offensive are they?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
                                  Answer:
   
   "Shvartze" is the neutral Yiddish term for "black", including the
   person. There are other derogatory terms--some borrowed from English.
   But there are Jews who can make "shvartze" offensive. However, even
   though the meaning of the term isn't offensive, that doesn't mean that
   the word hasn't acquired an offensive connotation over time. This is
   the case with "shvartze". Historically, it was used in a nonneutral
   way, regardless of its neutral meaning. In general, the term should be
   avoided. Note that "shvartze" is also used to describe strict
   observance. [From the black clothing often worn by the very
   observance. See [5]Section 11.1, question 6 for more details on this.]
   
   "Goy" [plural: goyim, adjective: goyishe] is the standard Hebrew term
   for non-Jew. Literally it is the Hebrew for "nation." Spoken aloud
   with a disgusted inflection, it's pejorative. So is the word 'Jew' in
   similar circumstances. Better to say "gentile" or "non-Jew" when
   writing in English for a multireligious audience, such as SCJ. In
   general, the use of judgemental or pejorative terms, even if no
   offense is intended, should be avoided. They only serve to incite
   anger and side-track the conversation. True conversation comes from
   being factual and appropriately neutral.
   
   In the phrase "shabbos goy"--a gentile who does things for Jews on
   Shabbos--it is neutral, yet when refusing to do something for someone
   by saying "I'm not your shabbos goy", it carries a derogatory tinge.
   
   Some also suggest avoiding the term "Marrano", which means "pig".
   Depending on the intended meaning, the terms "Sephardic" or
   "Crypto-Jew" are more appropriate.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA