Nigger is a word which refers to a person of African descent. Today, it is mostly used as a racist insult. Originally, it was simply used to refer to a black person. At that time, it was not considered racist.
The word came from a slang pronunciation of "negro", which is the word for the color black in Portuguese and Spanish. Writers such as Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens used it. When they used it, they meant black person. The word was mostly used in the Southern part of the United States, where blacks were at one time held as slaves.
Today, it is an offensive and inflammatory racial slur in English, and is often considered to be hate speech. In the USA it's so taboo that it is not said by white people in most cases and it's instead called the "N-word". However, blacks are allowed to use it without offending anyone and they use it to address each other.
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References[change | change source]
- Pilgrim, David (September 2001). "Nigger and Caricatures". http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/caricature/. Retrieved 2007-06-19.
- Twain, Mark (1883). Life on the Mississippi. James R. Osgood & Co., Boston (U.S. edition). p. 11,13,127,139,219. ISBN 9780486414263. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nBWbSj-r4U4C&pg=PA11.