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Outrage over word misplaced
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, January 27, 2008

Seems TIME is in the hot seat for using a fairly common term which, like niggardly, is similar to defamatory word but has an entirely different meaning.

The term is "rejiggered". And some out there are astounded that TIME had the temerity to use such a word when everyone knows what "jig" means.

Except rejigger isn't a derivative of "jig" as it is used in the "Urban Dictionary". According to the American Heritage on-line dictionary (available through Answers.com) it has precisely the meaning TIME applied:
rejigger (re-jig'?r)

tr.v. Informal., -gered, -ger·ing, -gers.

To readjust or rearrange.
As in "Obama's Rout Rejiggers Race". A wonderful bit of alliteration and a proper use of the word "rejiggers".

Random House Unabridged Dictionary at dictionary.com has a similar meaning. Neither dictionary provides even a hint the word has racist connotations or connections.

Sometimes its better to use a real dictionary and check out the actual word used instead of assuming something not in evidence.

TIME is correct in the use of the word, even though it now appears it has caved and changed it after being questioned by those who aren't aware of the real meaning of "rejigger".
 
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It’s amazing how sensitive some people are to niggling criticisms.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
I can empathize with the reaction because of the slur that’s used against my ethnic group: chink.

From dictionary.com:

noun
1. (ethnic slur) offensive term for a person of Chinese descent
2. a narrow opening as e.g. between planks in a wall
3. a short light metallic sound

verb
1. make or emit a high sound; "tinkling bells" [syn: tinkle]
2. fill the chinks of, as with caulking
3. make cracks or chinks in; "The heat checked the paint" [syn: check]

Even when I hear "chink" used without malice in its non-slur forms, I have to consciously suppress my hurt and angry reaction that wells up.




 
Written By: Eric Chen
URL: http://
I have to consciously suppress my hurt and angry reaction that wells up.
Really? Wow. Don’t let words get the best of you. They are just words.

And Dale... "niggling"? Classic! And quick. Impressive, if I do say so myself.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Sorry you feel that way Eric, but you seem to be a rational guy and you can realize that you are having an irrational reaction. Some things go straight to the lizard brain that way. I can’t stand when people use "we" meaning "you", as in "How are we today?" Totally irrational, but it still makes my knuckles itch.

Thing with this, though, is some people seem to be going out of their way to find offense where none exists. I still freelance a little bar and one of the tools we use is called a jigger. It’s a standard bar measurement. When I say "two jiggers of rum" I am in no way trying to demean anyone, but I can practically see a lawsuit in the future. When my sister reads Winnie the Pooh to her kids she pronounces "Tigger" as "tiger" because she is worried that with their three-year old pronunciation they might inadvertently cause offense. She’s, perhaps, over-paranoid, but things like this make me wonder how far down the "no offense" road we are willing to go.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
I work around jigs constantly.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/jig
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jig_(tool)

I never knew of its slang use to tell the truth until now. It could be a regional thing and the Time person really didn’t know any different to even avoid the appearance of impropriety.


 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Thing with this, though, is some people seem to be going out of their way to find offense where none exists
Well, either *none* or *insufficient* offense (as in "lynch" and Tiger Williams, Tiger being the only person I saw who handled it reasonably, as in not a big deal). Wasn’t there some famous lady writer who said something to the effect of "Don’t bother to examine a folly, ask yourself only what it accomplishes"?

I’m thinking of folks like Al Sharpton and, say, Mahmoud al-Zahar of Hamas here, but there are countless other rage-surfers out there, just hoping to create, catch and exaggerate a wave of rage sufficient to propel them to lasting political prominence and power.
"Wars are seldom caused by spontaneous hatreds between peoples, for peoples in general are too ignorant of one another to have grievances and too indifferent to what goes on beyond their borders to plan conquests. They must be urged to slaughter by politicians who know how to alarm them." H.L. Mencken.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
I, too, use jigs all the time and introduce them to my students. I never knew it was a bad word and none of my students has ever mentioned it or even giggled at the word.

Oh, well.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Ron, I assume you meant Tiger Woods, not Tiger Williams. I wouldn’t bother to correct you, but it’s worth it to make sure your point is understood by all.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Yep, I meant Tiger Woods....it’s a Canadian mistake...

no offense intended
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Even when I hear "chink" used without malice in its non-slur forms, I have to consciously suppress my hurt and angry reaction that wells up.
Is that for real? Who past grade school is hurt by namecalling, especially when it ISN’T?
 
Written By: Hazel Stone
URL: http://thelineishere.org
If a jig isn’t a dance, I’m giving up.

I suggest a grass-roots revolt against the tyranny of derogatory word usage. If someone speaks a different language than I do that’s *their* problem that they don’t speak mine.

Bah.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
The AAA baseball team in my hometown of Allentown stumbled into a situation much like this. As the Iron Pigs were new to the area and needed a name for their mascot the management came up a naming contest, leading to the winning entry of "Pork Chop." He’s a pig, named Pork Chop, get it? Well, the day after the contest winner was announced, a handful of older Puerto Rican residents complained that the name was actually a racial slur, to the surprise of lawyers, residents and the firm hired to make sure the name was acceptable. After the manufactured outrage made headlines, the name was changed to Ferrous.
 
Written By: InebriatedArsonist
URL: http://
"It’s amazing how sensitive some people are to niggling criticisms."

Ooooh. Not bad.


"everyone knows what "jig" means."

Including probably millions of African-Americans who have worked in factories, machine shops, etc.



My guess is that ’rejiggered’ comes from the following definition of jig;

"a device that holds a piece of machine work and guides the tools operating on it"

After reading the links you provided, I am astounded at the arrogant and willful illiteracy that seems to prevail among those whose jobs presume some facility with the English language. Did not one of them think to actually look up the definition before they passed judgement on the word and those who used it? Has not even one of them even some passing acquaintance with the word ’jig’, other than as a racial epithet? Evidently not, which says much about them, their education, their experience, and the people they associate with.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
"Puerto Rican residents complained that the name was actually a racial slur"

Okay, you got me. I am really curious; how on earth is ’pork chop’ a racial slur?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Okay, you got me. I am really curious; how on earth is ’pork chop’ a racial slur?
The best explanation that I saw proffered was that decades ago some Bethlehem Steel workers referred to Puerto Rican workers as pork chops because of their supposed taste for pork products.

That’s it. Seriously.
 
Written By: InebriatedArsonist
URL: http://
Okay, you got me. I am really curious; how on earth is ’pork chop’ a racial slur?
That’s the problem with this entire line of discussion. It’s not possible to anticipate what someone, somewhere might judge to be such a slur. Therefore, it’s possibly anytime, anywhere to utter something in total innocence that is taken as a slur.

The corollary is that in a society that grants the legitimacy of such feelings of being slurred, anyone at any time may suddenly become subject to ostracism, losing a job, or even being prosecuted because of something they said in total innocence and without any intended meaning beyond a normal, literal one. That’s simply wrong. It results in an unfair, unjust society, and encourages members to feign offense to gain advantage over others.

Our neighbors in Canada are now in a position a ways down this slippery slope, with the Human Rights Commission prosecutions of Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. I’d like to think we won’t go down that path, but I have no confidence of that based on historical developments during my lifetime. The idea that someone could lose a job because they used the word "niggardly" in the sense it has been used for hundreds of years removed that confidence.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
By the way, which term would get more of a reaction:

"He jewed me down to sell the car for $1000."

"I was gypped, he charged me $1000 for that car!"

Hint: It’s OK to slur the gypsies, but not the Jews. But those are real slurs; the fact our society is full of people too easily offended by even imagined slurs is pretty pathetic. And the ones losing the most are those who allow the way other people use words, especially correctly use them, to offend them or get them upset. That essentially gives others power over ones’ emotional state just by the words they use. (I can’t imagine how those people would fare wading into unfriendly blog debates...)

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The term is "rejiggered". And some out there are astounded that TIME had the temerity to use such a word when everyone knows what "jig" means.
Don’t care. I’ll be more than happy to jin up/join in with the fake outrage on this issue.

Maybe once you spread around enough payback, people will rein this sort of thing in, if not out of good sense, then of self-preservation
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
"That’s it. Seriously."

Pork products? And the best they could come up with is ’pork chop’? Dull, dull, dull. Just off the top of my head, ’head cheese’ has a better ring to it. Consider that, as they say, they use everything but the oink.

I can’t imagine anyone getting too upset about being called a food product, unless it is something like the aforementioned ’head cheese’, and even that can be used as a compliment. Unless you are offended by being called a cheese (velveeta doesn’t count).

Once, when my rib and I were house shopping, we looked at a house owned by a black woman (should I have said African-American? all these rules are so confusing). As I walked into the kitchen I almost swallowed my tongue. The decorative motif was watermelons. Little watermelon figurines, big watermelon jars, pictures, dishtowels, etc. We had an interesting conversation. I love people with a sense of humor bigger than their egos.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Well the jig is up!
I knew that Time would eventually let slip their racial bias and run a headline with such a WhOPper. I can see that this is a chink in their armor that will allow millions of complaints to come pouring acrosss their corporate borders. I can only hope that someday we can all get along and just be coolie!!
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
Al Fin! Post of the year so far! But I think we better ’nip’ this thing in the bud before we ’spook’ any of the newcomers. They’ll be buzzing around like ’WASP’s’ causing us to ’dink’ and dunk around their comments.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
One of the side effects of this pernicious tendency towards being offended is that there are certain movies that couldn’t be made today. Can you imagine any studio allowing Blazing Saddles to be produced in the 21st century?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
FWIW, the last -and only- time the word "rejiggered" appeared in TIME magazine was 1951.

My initial reaction to the headline on Sunday morning was WTF? I have never seen that word in my life, though I could infer its’ meaning easily enough. I have quizzed several highly educated people about the word - none of them have ever heard the word.

I get the alliteration in the headline. However, given the recent attempts to inject race into the Democratic campaigns, I find it hard to imagine that such an obscure word got through the editing process without anyone commenting on the evocative qualities of the word.

This is the perspective of someone who:
- is 44 years old
- reads a LOT - a couple hours a day, typically.
- supports neither Obama nor Clinton.
- has very little faith in the impartiality or the quality of the media.
 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
Al Fin, Meagin, I am humbled. Please ignore my post.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
Hamilton, it’s not that obscure and archaic. Heck, run a google news search on the word and you’ll see it being used quite appropriately and legitimately by such sources as the NYT, WaPo, Guardian Unlimited, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune (subscription), Kansas City Star, and the New Republic (subscrption).

And that’s just from this last week. Note, none of these are articles about the situation with TIME. This whole thing is asinine.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
Tim, I did google the word. That, in fact, was the fist thing I did when I saw the headline. I see that the word has been used recently in print media. Did you notice that it is used quite a bit in the tech sector? Go figure.

I searched my local paper - ajc.com - and found that the word has appeared 5 times in the last 22 years, whereas a common, everyday word like "grandiloquent" has appeared 32 times.

Go quiz 100 people on the street. I bet you won’t find two that know the word. Show those same 100 people the headline as printed and I bet 50 of them would admit to being reminded of one or two racial epithets.

I am about as anti-PC as you can get, but this headline just left me scratching my head.

As many have noted, if this headline came from The New Republic or Mike Huckabee’s web page folks would have no problem believing nefarious intentions.

 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
Go quiz 100 people on the street. I bet you won’t find two that know the word. Show those same 100 people the headline as printed and I bet 50 of them would admit to being reminded of one or two racial epithets.
Well, I’m not about to go bother 100 people on the street, but since you are interested in anecdotal evidence, I have quizzed the 14 high school science teachers who happen to be sitting in the room with me right now. 5 knew the word out of context. None, including the 3 black teachers, feel there is any reason for legitimate concern about racial connotations in the context of the TIME flap.

For the record, I am not trying to imply that you necessarily should know that word off the top of your head, or that you are somehow uneducated for not knowing it. But your first comment seems to imply that the word is so obscure and archane that its use can’t possibly be innocent. I say that’s ridiculous.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
I have quizzed the 14 high school science teachers who happen to be sitting in the room with me right now. 5 knew the word out of context.
Am I correct in assuming that the 14 teachers hold a Masters degree or better? And nine did not know the word. I stand by my assertion that this is an obscure word.
your first comment seems to imply that the word is so obscure and archane that its use can’t possibly be innocent.
In the context of the campaign and the two or three weeks leading up to this primary, coming from an organization of this magnitude and experience, given that this was a front page web headline, I personally find it highly improbable that the use word was merely whimsical alliteration.

LIke I said in my first post, I have very little faith in the MSM at this time.
 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
Let me add that I do not assume that the headline was a partisan attack, per se. I can imagine the author and editor being slightly drunk and thinking that was a damned clever headline.
 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
Am I correct in assuming that the 14 teachers hold a Masters degree or better?
No. And of those who do have graduate degrees, none are in Archaic Language.
I personally find it highly improbable that the use word was merely whimsical alliteration.
I guess if you believe it hard enough, that’s good enough for you.
[shrug]
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
No. And of those who do have graduate degrees, none are in Archaic Language.
So this IS an archaic word?

I just assumed that a teacher would be slightly more educated than the average bear.

I guess if you believe it hard enough, that’s good enough for you.
Did you watch the CNN debate from SC? Blitzer and Malveaux did plenty to stir up the bitter exchanges between the candidates. Then they report on it as though they were no part of it. These folks will quote their own stories as a source! I guess if you believe in their impartiality and competence hard enough, that’s good enough for you! Their body of work over the last decade leads me to feel otherwise
 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
So this IS an archaic word?
Hamilton, I’d like to make it through this conversation without insulting you, but your reading comprehension skills are flashing at me like a broken VCR clock. None of the teachers has a degree in Archaic Languages. Therefore, the nine who did not know the word would not indicate special, double-secret, so-obscure-it-can’t-be-taken-at-face-value status on the word. But the fact that five did know the word kinda implies that it’s not so insanely obscure as you would like to think.

I don’t suspect there is any point to continuing this conversation... you’ve clearly got your mind made up about those wacky racist drunks over at TIME. How they managed to be both obscure and overtly racist is beyond me, but then, so is the tin foil hat you have strapped on.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
you’ve clearly got your mind made up about those wacky racist drunks over at TIME.
I don’t recall saying they were racist. I don’t think they are at all.

A writers business is words. An editor’s business is to know context and nuance. I am sure TIME has very proficient writers and editors. I mistrust their journalistic ethics, not their knowledge of words.
 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
Scott: That and it’s not "gypsied".

For most people who haven’t already gone over this on the internet, it may well not ever occur to them that "gypped" refers to gypsies at all.

(Just as plausible a notional folk etymology would be that it referred to gypsum being used to cheat someone paying for a more expensive material... the point being that if nobody ever explains "Hey, that’s about Gypsies!", how the hell would anyone learning the phrase even know?)

The gypsies are a comparatively small and obscure ethnic group, after all, especially as regards their presence and prominence in the United States.

(Hell, I long had no idea that "welsching" (as in, on a bet) had any connection at all to Wales or its inhabitants. Because, well, who the hell outside of England cares about Wales? And of course, it’s both typically spoken rather than written, and not spelled like Wales...)

Hamilton: I knew what "jiggered" (as in "jiggering", "re-jiggering") meant, as do, well, pretty much all the people I know. It’s not Old English, or a term that died out in 1927.

(Take, for instance, this random Washington Post article on a different subject: Other funds went to Iowa, where a power plant had been temporarily rejiggered to burn more cleanly..

The term is neither obscure nor particularly strange.

Then again, it’s not "evocative" to me. Maybe it’s because I’m not race-obsesssed, but the presence of "-igger-" in words with no etymological or usage connection to the racial slur also containing that sequence doesn’t set off Racial Sensitivity Alarms in my head.

I also don’t think Rich Hall’s "Sniglets" was a covert attempt to put down black youths.)
 
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
At my first job I was taught that 1 jigger = 1 shot = 44.4 milliliters. On that note, I am going to retire from this conversation and find a jigger of spirits to ease the evening. Mixed with soda and shared with the missus, it may help me take my mind of this nonsense.

Cheers!
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com
(Take, for instance, this random Washington Post article on a different subject: Other funds went to Iowa, where a power plant had been temporarily rejiggered to burn more cleanly.
I tracked down the word in plenty of articles and did indeed notice that is does get a bit of use, especially in reference to machines, computer programs or product lineups.

As I stated before, I found it odd !!!!IN CONTEXT!!!! of the person and the events of the previous weeks. The "in context" part is pretty key here.

When I see it in the article about Vista packaging it doesn’t jump out. And I own a book titled "Woodworking Jigs" that does not cause me any distress.

It’s all in the context. To pretend anyone gives a crap about the word outside of the context of that headline AND ITS ASSOCIATED EVENTS is kinda silly
 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://
Come on. They consciously chose that word. Reshape would actually sound better.

Heck they probably choose that word just to stir debate and get publicity.

BTW, Eric, if it makes you feel better I have been called foreign devil, gweilo, red-haired monkey, big nose, and whitey by Chinese people. Some of those were even used in a friendly sense. Go figure!
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
I stand by my assertion that this is an obscure word.
Feel free to stand where you wish, but I strongly suspect you’re wrong. I have a pretty standard Grade 12 education and I’m sure I’ve known and used the word "rejiggered" since junior high or earlier.
 
Written By: Ron Good
URL: http://northernsubverbia.blogspot.com
Interesting take on the process by which the headline may have come about:

http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/punditinstants/editors_rejigge.php

 
Written By: Hamilton
URL: http://

 
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