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Monday June 22, 2009

Slurs around the world

ETHNOPHAULISMS are, according to the wiki site (for psychology students), terms of disparagement; the language of prejudice, verbal pictures of negative stereotypes.

In an article in Encyclopedia Britannica (online version), it notes that the term was coined by a psychologist, A.A. Roback, who carried out the first research into ethnic slurs in the United States in 1944.

There are other ways to label such language and they include hate speech, ethnic insults and racial slurs.

In Malaysia, disparagements are also cast at foreign nationals. It is not uncommon for us to use “Indon” and “Bangla” when referring to Indonesians and Bangladeshis. Perhaps initially it was meant as an abbreviated form, but over time the context has changed to refer to illegal immigrants and migrant labour.

Some nationalities seem to have left more footprints behind. The Dutch, for example, have been saddled with “Dutch courage” (bravery with the help of alcohol) and “Dutch treat” (shared expenses). Even the Malays have a saying, seperti Belanda minta tanah (like the Dutch asking for land, meaning asking for a lot but giving little in return).

The Americans have a long list of ethnophaulisms for other nationalities and groups, probably because of the influence of America in international popular culture via music, television, movies and books. The most derogatory term must surely be “nigger”.

According to Dr David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology, and Dr Phillip Middleton, Prof­essor of Languages and Literature, both from Ferris State University in Michigan, the etymology of the word is often traced back to the Latin niger (black). It in turn became the noun negro (black person) in English, while in Spanish and Portuguese it means the colour black.

It is said to be the ultimate American insult and is used to offend other ethnic groups – Jews (white niggers), Arabs (sandniggers) or Japanese (yellow niggers).

The language of prejudice is not confined to certain nationalities or ethnic groups. Below are some offensive examples:

Abo: Aussie for Australian Aboriginal; it became offensive from the 1950s.

Baluga: Filipino equivalent of nigger (possibly originated in reference to a dark-skinned Negrito tribe in the Philippines called the Baluga).

Bozgor: Meaning, without country. Used against Romanians who moved to Transylvania (which used to be under Hungary). The Romanians in turn use it against native Hungarians who live in Romania.

Champiñon: Mushroom in Spanish. Used in Spain to refer to Ecuadorian immigrants who are stereotyped as short with a big head.

Ddang Kong: Literally means peanuts. Koreans use it against the Vietnamese as they call short people peanuts.

Flash: Acronym for F***ing Lazy American S**t Head. Used by Israelis to refer to American tourists used to an easier standard of living.

Jewbacca: US term for hairy Jews. In reference to the character Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies.

Kike: US term for a Jew (illiterate Jewish immigrants used to sign their name with a circle instead of a cross, possibly for religious reasons; in Yiddish keikl is circle).

Labus: Used by Russians living in Latvia to refer to Latvians, presumably because Latvians say labi (good) a lot.

Ola: Common Scandinavian name used by the Swedes to refer to a stupid Norwegian.

Roach: US term for Mexicans with the derogatory allusion that they infest places.

Schlitzauge: literally, eye like a slit, used by Germans for Orientals.

Seoul Man: US term for Koreans who try to act Black.

Uzko Glaziye: Russian term for Orientals, literally meaning “thin eyed”.

Sourced from and

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