#1
Old 06-04-2013, 08:12 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NorCal/East Bay
Posts: 107
Is "Nip" a racist term?

I'm probably gonna get lit up for this but I'm honestly curious for a few reasons.

I remember in "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson it is mentioned that the during ww2 the Japanese refer(ed) to themselves as Nipponese not Japanese. Nip is a truncated version of this but it comes from a term that was not considered offensive by the Japanese themselves.

Now obviously the way American soldier in ww2 used it was meant to be offensive and derogatory. So here's my question: Once a heretofore inoffensive word is co-opted in a racist/derogatory way does that take it " off the board" so to speak? Can it ever be brought back into the fold?

Also "Jerry" short for German seems to be the same type wordplay yet I personally don't think of it as a racist term. Are these terms Nip/Jerry comparable or does one carry a bit more "weight" than the other?
#2
Old 06-04-2013, 08:21 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 37,410
I don't know, but the term was commonly used on the TV show McHale's Navy. It is similar wordplay to to 'jerry', it's short for Nipponese, another term for Japanese, and more accurate if the story that 'Japan' is the Chinese pronunciation for Nippon is true.
#3
Old 06-04-2013, 08:26 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 11,965
Yes, it is derogatory and is intended to diminish the people it is directed towards. As far as I know, the Japanese still refer to their country as Nippon, as that is the name of the place in Japanese, but call themselves Nihon-jin.

An intentionally dismissive truncation of a legitimate word does not become "okay."
#4
Old 06-04-2013, 08:31 PM
Knocking it up a notch. BAM!
Moderator
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Michigan
Posts: 16,015
Yes, it's racist. No, the fact that some people don't think it's racist doesn't mean it's not racist.
#5
Old 06-04-2013, 08:36 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Taiwan
Posts: 9,097
In Japanese kanji, Japan in written 日本 and pronounced either nihon or nippon, in their native language the people are called either nihonjin or nipponjin but obviously never nipponese.

Words such as "Japs" and "Nips" are considered pejorative in America and their use is frowned on. I'm not aware of any recent racial slurs which have been rehabilitated.

For the origin of the word Japanese:
Quote:
The early Mandarin Chinese or possibly Wu Chinese word for Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. The modern Shanghainese (a dialect of the Wu Chinese language (呉語) or topolect) pronunciation of characters 日本 (Japan) is still Zeppen [zəʔpən]. The old Malay word for Japan, Jepang (modern spelling Jepun, although Indonesian has retained the older spelling), was borrowed from a Chinese language, and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Malacca in the 16th century. It is thought the Portuguese traders were the first to bring the word to Europe. It was first recorded in English in 1577 spelled Giapan.
#6
Old 06-04-2013, 08:36 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NorCal/East Bay
Posts: 107
Right. So the intention behind the shortening of the word is what imbues it with its racism. It is not an inherently derogatory word though.

Hey.. I've never called anyone a nip in my life and never would.

So does Jerry meet the same criteria as racist?

Last edited by Schism; 06-04-2013 at 08:40 PM.
#7
Old 06-04-2013, 08:39 PM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 67,142
No word is "inherently" anything. Words are abstract sets of characters.
#8
Old 06-04-2013, 08:53 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 21,960
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
So does Jerry meet the same criteria as racist?
A good way to answer these sorts of questions is to consult a dictionary. Jerry is typically referred to as a slang term, while Nip and Jap are noted as being offensive or derogatory.

As for why one is offensive and one isn't, well, words are funny that way. The word "scheme" is often defined as meaning a value-neutral program or plan of action, such as how the British may talk about the Prime Minister's scheme to improve health care.

However, in the US, a scheme is a devious plot. It's almost only used as a disparaging term, like how Republicans talk about the President's scheme to "improve" health care.

Why the negative connotation? Who knows, but examining where a word came from isn't going to negate the connotations that people associate with the word.
#9
Old 06-04-2013, 08:54 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NorCal/East Bay
Posts: 107
Yeah I kinda blew it on the thread title. It is obviously a racist term. More curious as to the how's and why's of a word becoming taboo.
#10
Old 06-04-2013, 09:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NorCal/East Bay
Posts: 107
Also I think a case could be made that the shortening of the word to "Nip" was not meant to be racist per se. "Let's go assault that machine gun nest of nipponese, men!" being a bit of a mouthful for a sergeant in the heat of battle, I could see it getting pared down to "Kill those Nips!"
#11
Old 06-04-2013, 09:14 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Chicago, Far Northsider
Posts: 7,810
Are these terms something my parents would use, if they were to refer to people with racist terms? They're in their 60's and I'm 42. I've never heard these and would have no idea what someone was talking about if I heard them. Well, maybe after reading this thread, but I'll probably forget about it shortly.

Will the terms drop out of the dictionary if they're not used for a generation or two? Sorry if this is a thread hijack, that's not my intention.
#12
Old 06-04-2013, 09:20 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 37,410
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
Are these terms something my parents would use, if they were to refer to people with racist terms? They're in their 60's and I'm 42. I've never heard these and would have no idea what someone was talking about if I heard them. Well, maybe after reading this thread, but I'll probably forget about it shortly.

Will the terms drop out of the dictionary if they're not used for a generation or two?
Other than the above mentioned McHales Navy I don't recall any specific usage of 'Nip'. 'Jerry' seems to be mostly limited to WWII movies. I thought those terms had already fallen into disuse. They came from my parents generation, and I'm almost 60 myself.
#13
Old 06-04-2013, 09:32 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NorCal/East Bay
Posts: 107
Exactly! Which goes to my question if a word can EVER be brought back if it was once considered offensive.
#14
Old 06-05-2013, 06:05 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 11,965
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
Exactly! Which goes to my question if a word can EVER be brought back if it was once considered offensive.
Why would anyone want to "bring back" a term which was invented to be derogatory?

(As a semi-related aside, my uncle Steve had a wider range of anti-Semitic terms than I had ever encountered in my life. A word like "sheeny" does not need to be rehabilitated; it can safely stay on the literary ash-heap of history as a curiosity which demonstrates the background of the user.)
#15
Old 06-05-2013, 07:18 AM
I'm nice, dammit!
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Southern Merrylande
Posts: 37,914
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
Will the terms drop out of the dictionary if they're not used for a generation or two?
From a purely academic point of view, why would you want words, even offensive ones, to be purged from a dictionary? What happens if someone sees and old movie or reads an old book years from now and comes across a term, offensive or not, that as dropped from common usage? Surely they should be able to find out what it meant.
#16
Old 06-05-2013, 08:28 AM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 443
While I agree that nip is not a polite word, nor one that I would use, it is just a word. In our world of 1984, we have gotten so incredibly sensitive that we border on the asinine. It is a shortening of Nippon, which is what the Japanese call their own country. We have just got to lose this unreasoning fear of words. Words have no value other than what we apply. Seriously, when I was a kid, there was no word skank. Now, it has value...negative value. Nonetheless, it is still just a word until it is used as a weapon.
#17
Old 06-05-2013, 08:43 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,706
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
So here's my question: Once a heretofore inoffensive word is co-opted in a racist/derogatory way does that take it " off the board" so to speak? Can it ever be brought back into the fold?
Certainly it can be brought back.

A few years ago, the Best Actor Oscar went to Geoffrey Rush in Shine. I'm not aware of any Black leader complaining about the movie's name. Yet the word was a strong racist pejorative in the 1940s.
__________________
"East is East and West is West and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does."
Purveyor of fine science fiction since 1982.
#18
Old 06-05-2013, 08:46 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 11,965
Yes, MostlyUseless. Words have denotations, connotations, and meanings in context. “Nip,” in reference to a person of Japanese descent, is a slur. I do not know of any reason to use it except to try to diminish the person. I cannot think of any hypothetical situation where calling someone a “Nip” is intended to be anything other than hateful (or ignorant, but ignorance can be corrected).

The fact that it is an obsolete slur is irrelevant, unless you can provide a scenario where it is neutral or positive to call someone a “Nip.”

(If in the near future, Japanese-Americans start asking to be called “Nips” for some ironic or cultural-recovery reason, I will change my attitude towards the word. At this time, I am not even familiar with Japanese in-group humor which uses the term.)
#19
Old 06-05-2013, 09:12 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 67,142
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyUseless View Post
While I agree that nip is not a polite word, nor one that I would use, it is just a word.
So are nigger, kike, wop, cunt and so forth. That's irrelevant; the word offends people.
#20
Old 06-05-2013, 09:23 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 4,175
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
So are nigger, kike, wop, cunt and so forth. That's irrelevant; the word offends people.
Many words offend people.... the key thing is whether enough of the right people want to defend the offended people.
#21
Old 06-05-2013, 09:26 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Cheshire, UK (since 2006)
Posts: 5,014
Is referring to a small/young person as a 'little nipper' a derivation of this?
#23
Old 06-05-2013, 09:33 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 31,112
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyUseless View Post
While I agree that nip is not a polite word, nor one that I would use, it is just a word. In our world of 1984, we have gotten so incredibly sensitive that we border on the asinine. It is a shortening of Nippon, which is what the Japanese call their own country. We have just got to lose this unreasoning fear of words. Words have no value other than what we apply. Seriously, when I was a kid, there was no word skank. Now, it has value...negative value. Nonetheless, it is still just a word until it is used as a weapon.
But white people, or black people, or brown people, cannot be the ones bringing it back. If Japanese people decide they don't much mind Nip and start calling themselves it and using it regularly then that's one thing. Outsiders will just have to be damn patient.
#24
Old 06-05-2013, 09:40 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 37,410
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
But white people, or black people, or brown people, cannot be the ones bringing it back. If Japanese people decide they don't much mind Nip and start calling themselves it and using it regularly then that's one thing. Outsiders will just have to be damn patient.
So could Japanese call themselves 'Nips' yet still take offense when non-Japanese use the same term?
#25
Old 06-05-2013, 09:48 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Schenectady, NY, USA
Posts: 40,706
Two other examples of words considered obscene (but not racist) but which have lost their pejorative connotations:

"Occupy." In Shakespeare's time, this meant "to have sex with" (OED: 1648 H. Hexham Groot Woorden-boeck, Genooten, to Lie with, or to Occupie a woman).

"Arse" went from being too obscene to be used, with the word "ass" being used instead as a euphemism. As time went by, "ass" became obscene, so "arse" came back as the euphemism.
#26
Old 06-05-2013, 09:58 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Florida
Posts: 67,142
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
So could Japanese call themselves 'Nips' yet still take offense when non-Japanese use the same term?
Of course.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
"Arse" went from being too obscene to be used, with the word "ass" being used instead as a euphemism. As time went by, "ass" became obscene, so "arse" came back as the euphemism.
Where?
#27
Old 06-05-2013, 12:21 PM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: On the outside looking in
Posts: 9,978
Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Two other examples of words considered obscene (but not racist) but which have lost their pejorative connotations:

"Occupy." In Shakespeare's time, this meant "to have sex with" (OED: 1648 H. Hexham Groot Woorden-boeck, Genooten, to Lie with, or to Occupie a woman).

"Arse" went from being too obscene to be used, with the word "ass" being used instead as a euphemism. As time went by, "ass" became obscene, so "arse" came back as the euphemism.
Really? I thought "ass" was American and "arse" was rest-of-the-world with neither being more or less offensive than the other.
#28
Old 06-05-2013, 12:49 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 6,608
I don't think "nip" as in "let's nip this in the bud" is racist. But using it referring to someone of Japanese origin is racist.
#29
Old 06-05-2013, 12:51 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 6,608
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
So could Japanese call themselves 'Nips' yet still take offense when non-Japanese use the same term?
If you're white, I recommend you NEVER call an African American "nigger", no matter how many times you might hear it used between African Americans.
#30
Old 06-05-2013, 01:01 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 22,321
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
So could Japanese call themselves 'Nips' yet still take offense when non-Japanese use the same term?
As someone who married into a large Japanese-American family with both West Coast and Midwest branches I can tell you with some assurance that a) they don't call themselves "Nips" and b) they take offense to those who do.
#31
Old 06-05-2013, 01:04 PM
I Am the One Who Bans
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 78,234
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger Jeff View Post
If you're white, I recommend you NEVER call an African American "nigger", no matter how many times you might hear it used between African Americans.
But it's not fair! Or something. Anyway, yes, the meaning of a word is determined by its history and its usage, not through some objective ruling on what it 'really means.' "Nip" probably isn't used much today, but it was a racist term and if you used it today around someone who knew what it meant, they would take it that way.
#32
Old 06-05-2013, 02:17 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 11,495
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyUseless View Post
While I agree that nip is not a polite word, nor one that I would use, it is just a word. In our world of 1984, we have gotten so incredibly sensitive that we border on the asinine. It is a shortening of Nippon, which is what the Japanese call their own country. We have just got to lose this unreasoning fear of words. Words have no value other than what we apply.
MODERATORS: WARNING--DEMONSTRATION FOR ILLUSTRATIVE PURPOSES ONLY: MostlyUseless, you have the perfect user name. You are a fucking useless piece of shit.

There. How did you feel when you read that? I didn't really mean it, I applied no value at all. It's just words after all. But if someone said that to me I would not like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
Right. So the intention behind the shortening of the word is what imbues it with its racism. It is not an inherently derogatory word though.
As George Carlin said, there are no bad words, only bad thoughts. Calling a Japanese person a "nip" means you have a bad thought.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
...in the heat of battle, I could see it getting pared down to "Kill those Nips!"
Exactly. It's not just an abbreviation, it's a dehumanization. We are not fighting again flesh and blood humans like ourselves, we are fighting against "those nips." The Germans were "krauts," the Vietnamese were "gooks." People use slurs to express utter depersonalization.
#33
Old 06-05-2013, 02:37 PM
I Am the One Who Bans
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 78,234
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyUseless View Post
It is a shortening of Nippon, which is what the Japanese call their own country.
No, they Japanese call their country Nihon. I think the word was sometimes transliterated as Nippon because P and H are nearly the same character in kanji. So it's not "what they call their own country," and people who used the insult didn't know much of anything about the people or country they were insulting. Surprise! That's one of the reasons the "but they say it about themselves!" defense never works.
#34
Old 06-05-2013, 02:50 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 14,000
The only way its not racist is if you're talking about nipples
#35
Old 06-05-2013, 02:51 PM
Writer on the storm
Moderator
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Near Eskippakithiki
Posts: 11,449
Moving from MPSIMS to IMHO.
#36
Old 06-05-2013, 03:42 PM
BANNED
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Home of the golden bear
Posts: 1,468
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
No, they Japanese call their country Nihon. I think the word was sometimes transliterated as Nippon because P and H are nearly the same character in kanji. So it's not "what they call their own country," and people who used the insult didn't know much of anything about the people or country they were insulting. Surprise! That's one of the reasons the "but they say it about themselves!" defense never works.
I have to nitpick a little here about the Japanese. "Nippon" is not a wrong pronunciation of 日本, exactly. It is a "traditional" way of pronouncing it, and its use in Japanese contemporary speech is generally limited to formal and government affairs. During World War 2, it was probably in more common casual usage than it is now.

When used in everyday speech, it could be interpreted as either a patriotic affectation or as an attempt at mockery, depending on who is saying it. It is kind of like saying "The United States of America" instead of "America" or "The US".

Last edited by colander; 06-05-2013 at 03:43 PM.
#37
Old 06-05-2013, 05:34 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NorCal/East Bay
Posts: 107
After further looking up shit on the Internet nipponese is NOT what the Japanese called themselves and I'm a moron for believing a guy who writes a lot of historical fiction. Damn you Neal Stephenson!
#38
Old 06-05-2013, 06:10 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Moscow/Toronto
Posts: 14,446
If I'm not mistaken, "Jerry" the German dates back to the First World War, along with the British "Tommy" Atkins and the American "Sammy the Yank" (a moniker that never did catch on and was swiftly supplanted by "Doughboy").

"Jerry" persisted into WWII among the British in particular, whereas "Kraut" was more American slang and was equal to "Jap" and "Nip" in its level of derision.

Last edited by terentii; 06-05-2013 at 06:12 PM.
#39
Old 06-05-2013, 08:23 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 39,369
My ex once got out of the car and proclaimed "There's a nip in the air." That's when he noticed a group of Asians within earshot. Then he proceeded to slink past them.
#40
Old 06-05-2013, 10:25 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 352
try this...I was talking to a WWII vet the other day about his wartime experience.... he had no problem using the word Jap and Nip in describing the enemy in the context of his tour of duty. I did not flinch nor did I consider his use of those words troubling. However, had he called the Asian guy waiting in line at Starbucks a nip I would have an issue with that.

Last edited by stoplight; 06-05-2013 at 10:28 PM.
#41
Old 06-05-2013, 10:55 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: SEC
Posts: 13,718
I could get so bad that we're no longer to say Nip it in the bud!.
#42
Old 06-05-2013, 11:34 PM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Taiwan
Posts: 9,097
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
Also I think a case could be made that the shortening of the word to "Nip" was not meant to be racist per se. "Let's go assault that machine gun nest of nipponese, men!" being a bit of a mouthful for a sergeant in the heat of battle, I could see it getting pared down to "Kill those Nips!"
Nope. This is incorrect. Many, if not most, if not damn nearly all of the Americans fighting the Japanese in WWII hated them. Admiral Halsay was famous for putting up a sign which said "Kill japs, kill japs and kill more japs."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
No, they Japanese call their country Nihon. I think the word was sometimes transliterated as Nippon because P and H are nearly the same character in kanji. So it's not "what they call their own country," and people who used the insult didn't know much of anything about the people or country they were insulting. Surprise! That's one of the reasons the "but they say it about themselves!" defense never works.
This is also incorrect. Please see my post above.

The word comes from two characters, 日 nichi which means the sun and 本 hon which means origin. When two characters are combined, the second character often becomes voiced through a process called rendaku. H's become either b's or p's. K's become g's, etc.

The Japanese call their country both Nihon and Nippon, so it is what they call their own country.

There are a set of rules where one tends to be used in certain cases where the other tends to be used in other cases. The government currently uses Nippon on stamps, for example. You rarely (if ever?) hear nippongo (Japanese language) although you will hear Nipponjin (Japanese person).
#43
Old 06-06-2013, 12:58 AM
Guest
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 13,208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schism View Post
Exactly! Which goes to my question if a word can EVER be brought back if it was once considered offensive.
I'm not familiar with any past racial or ethnic slurs that are now considered inoffensive terms for that racial/ethnic group, but "gay" was once a derogatory term for homosexual men. "Queer" was also once pretty insulting, and in some contexts still is, but has to an extent been reclaimed.

As for "Nip" in particular though, I don't see any point in bringing it back. And that's not just because it's offensive, but because it doesn't seem useful as anything but a slur. It's shorter but far less clear than just saying "Japanese". The term "Nip" has no obvious relationship to the English word "Japanese", and "nip" is both a fairly common English word with a meaning (pinch/bite) totally unrelated to Japan AND a slangy shortened form of "nipple". So using "Nip" instead of "Japanese" could lead to confusion in some contexts, and the association with "nipple" makes it likely it would seem insulting even if the past were entirely forgotten.
#44
Old 06-06-2013, 01:27 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 16,451
It depends.
Are we talking about the tip of a breast?
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:20 AM.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: glaive beam mva fines rosswell rods class c cigarettes ultrasonic anti bark microsoft flowcharts purple bed commercial phd without bachelors insomnia frequent urination kim lacapria obama draino chemical name pronounce dvorak 110 humidity dope ringtones insulation rods great schools.net dr strangelove explained triangular bayonet wound marinara wikipedia spit baths hub stub 6 gallon jug chemical stress test honda odometers cat washer rake pleasure seeker seabees tattoo funny ref insults duck spanish cricket chorus ibuprofen sleepiness loophole etymology mah rating good disguise mineral water cause kidney stones how to list beta gamma sigma on resume how to write a check citibank dating a high school girl weight watchers points baked potato penny arcade archive by date when i sneeze it smells dex phone books delivery why did scottie leave mythbusters planet fitness rules lawsuit waiting to happen why does brick from the middle whisper jamie lee curtis genetic what does asiago cheese taste like what did the s in harry s truman stand for do women like men with long hair fire lake bob seger difference between positive and negative punishment i want to kill my dog how to split the cost of a vacation rental sand like particles in urine ceiling light bulbs keep blowing google thinks i'm a robot what year was electricity used in homes i resemble that remark truman capote local color what are your cousins kids called what is flame broiled my knees are killing me where can i cash a check without id joe versus the volcano luggage planet fitness have personal trainers skin peeling after burn