Columbus - way off topic

Yigal Levin Yigal-Levin at
Mon Jul 22 09:08:33 EDT 2002

At 06:51 PM 7/21/2002 +0200, Søren Holst wrote:
>> (the term "Maranno", meaning "swine", is derogatory).
>It ain't easy being politically correct these days. I've heard any number of
>highly educated jews, Israeli and diaspora, use "Marano" as a perfectly
>value neutral technical term meaning "A jew pretending to be a christian in
>order to escape persecution at the hands of the Inquisition".
>The guys in the linguistics department, I think, tell us that the meaning of
>a word is defined by its usage, not its etymology. Do we have to do away
>with this one, just because in Spanish it may have a referent different from
>the one people intend when using it in talking (in English) about the jews
>in Spain in the 1500's?
>Soren Holst, Copenhagen

You are right, but only partially. While I am the last person to advocate
"political correctness", it is always good to understand the actual meaning
of the words one uses in order to avoid offending others. Another example
of this is the name "Falasha", commonly used for the Jews of Ethiopia. This
word, which roughly means "outsider", was what the non-Jews called the
Jews. The Ethiopian Jews called themselves "Beta Yisrael", and considered
"Falasha" to be derogatory.

Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598

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