Chapter

Purging Pejoratives

in From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780226534657
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226534640 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226534640.003.0003
Purging Pejoratives

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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This chapter explores the conflicts and conundrums that arise in removing objectionable names from maps. To address the extent of the problem of objectionable names, the author compiled a list of derogatory terms and queried the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) to find which ones might be found on topographic maps. Among groups vulnerable to cartographic insult, Italian Americans get off lightly. GNIS turned up 51 official names and 10 variants based on guinea—an anti-Italian pejorative that also denigrates people of mixed American-Indian and African-American ancestry. German and Polish Americans have even less cause for complaint. A query to GNIS found only eleven cases of kraut and six of Polack. Non-ethnic white Americans are not spared, at least not in the Southwest, where gringo has derogatory connotations. Derived from the Spanish word for Greek, gringo once referred to anyone speaking a strange language.

Keywords: objectionable names; topographic maps; Italian Americans; American-Indians; African Americans; Gringo; Geographic Names Information System

Chapter.  7790 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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