A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...
Thursday, April 24, 2014
A to Z: U is for Uppity --and words with alternate meanings.
Uppity, as MW online defines it: "adjective\ˈə-pə-tē\
: acting as if you are more important than you really are, do not have to do what you are told to do, etc."
I live in western Pennsylvania, USA, and to me, the word means pretty much what MW says it means. Imagine my surprise when several years ago, I blundered into a heated exchange in an online forum over the use of the word, "uppity". It seems that to many people--not in my local area, but in some areas of the country, the word is derogatory to African Americans. And to those people, they are every bit as adamant that the word is a racial slur, as I used to be that it wasn't.
If you visit MW's page where uppity is defined , some of the comments make very clear that in spite of how MW defines it, it is a derogatory word. (Comments often teach more than the post they're left on teaches).
As a writer and a blogger (and as a human being), I don't intentionally insult people. This particular example of how ignorant I can be of alternate (localese, slang, dialectal etc.) word meanings gives me pause when I consider word choice. Still, how does one know?
I don't have the answers. I am curious if anyone else does...