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Mohammedan
Posted: 03 June 2007 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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This surprises me.

Me too; it makes no sense whatever.  Not only are the Maori Polynesian, they’re proud of it and certainly don’t try to conceal it.  Here‘s a thread on Aotearoa Cafe (a Maori discussion board) about a “dictionary of Polynesian Tattoo Symbols”; note this comment:

This dicitionary will create a frenzy of non-polynesians wanting to tell us how we do our job, what we are, what we do and what our art and culture is....

Actually you dont need one of these to make that happen - its been happening for ages…

I think the possibilities are these:

1) bayard misunderstood why the woman was angry;
2) the woman was nuts.

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Posted: 03 June 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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On the other hand, there’s this from my friend:

Yes, very common. Even worse is to use the specifier “New Zealand Maori”, to distinguish them from Cook Island Maori. Maori from Aotearoa don’t like being reminded that they are Polynesian, or that other Polynesians use the same word to describe themselves. I once narrowly escaped being physically assaulted by a woman in her mid-50s when I innocently read out the demographic questions of a survey and asked if she identified herself as “NZ Maori”. Her rage was real and frightening, I kept looking to make sure I had a clear path to the door. Since then, our terminology is “Maori” for Maori from here, and “Cook Island Maori” for the others - Cook Islanders have no such pretensions, in my experience.

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Posted: 03 June 2007 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Huh.  Weird.  Glad I don’t have to deal with it on a daily basis!

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Posted: 03 June 2007 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I should probably expand on the response I gave Faldage. Maaori of Aotearoa/NZ have enshrined legislative and political privileges by virtue of their status as tangata whenua, the people of the land, as opposed to everybody else, tangata tiriti - people of the Treaty (of Waitangi). It is my belief that the hostility to the idea of being labelled as Polynesian may be connected with a perceived dilution of their special status as indigenous. Add to that the increasing trend for Maaori of this country to identify first and foremost not as Maaori but as members of their primary tribal lineage, and the dislike of broader designations makes more sense. Twice in the last year my work has required me to select staff for particular assignments not simply on the basis of whether they were Maaori or Pakeha, but more specifically on the basis of their tribal connexions, as they would be going into areas in which even Maaori from other tribes are not warmly received.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 12:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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To add to maxqnz’s response: the word ‘Polynesian’ in NZ generally refers to non-Maori polynesians, (e.g. Samoans, Tongans, Niueans), of whom there are large expatriate populations, particularly in Auckland. So the word has a strong implication of immigrant status, and of course for native NZers who already have good reason to feel like cultural outsiders in their own country it could be taken as something of a slap in the face.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Regarding “Mohammedan”, I think part of the issue is that Islam takes the issue of idolatry much further than does Christianity.  So calling a Moslem a “Mohammedan” is, in his belief system, quite different than calling me a “Lutheran” is in mine.

(Irrelevant aside:  my church put up, for reasons peculiar to that congregation, a giant portrait of Martin Luther on the front wall of the sanctuary.  It was there about fifty years until they decided this smacked of idolatry, and covered it with a curtain.  We just recently took the portrait and curtain down as part of repainting the front wall.  The portrait has been cleaned and will be rehung on the back wall.)

As for “Darwinist”, this just doesn’t fit in with normal scientific naming practice.  One might speak of “Newtonian mechanics”.  I was taught Newtonian mechanics in freshman physics.  But one would not call a physicist a “Newtonist” and one would not expect to have to explain to random passersby that there have been discoveries in physics since Newton.  Evolutionary biology holds a different place in our public discourse.  There are people who misunderstand and misrepresent physics, but they are widely regarded as cranks.  Evolutionary biology is not so fortunate.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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To add to maxqnz’s response: the word ‘Polynesian’ in NZ generally refers to non-Maori polynesians, (e.g. Samoans, Tongans, Niueans), of whom there are large expatriate populations, particularly in Auckland. So the word has a strong implication of immigrant status

That makes perfect sense.  This is a very educational thread!

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Posted: 04 June 2007 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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It could be that Mohammedan was never used with the intention of causing offence, merely that Muslims eventually pointed out that they’d rather not be called it and dictionaries labelled it offensive out of respect for their views.
Didn’t a similar thing happen with Lapp/Sami and Bushman/San? And Eskimo was dropped because it was too broad for the various tribes it covered. The latter three were well-intentioned but discarded when we were put right.
Does OED have a citation for Mohammedan being used in a critical rather than archaic descriptive way? I had thought so hence my original post but after reading your replies, it might never have been.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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FWIW: the online version of Van Dale describes Dutch “Mohammedaan” as ‘older term for Muslim’. If (Dutch) Muslims would take offence, it is very likely that Van Dale would indicate that. For the adjective ‘Mohammedaans’ they give ‘islamitisch’ (islamic) as synonym.

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Posted: 04 June 2007 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Same in German.  This site says that the terms “Mohammedaner” and “Mohammedanismus” are creations of the Christian west and, as such are “false.” The on-line German dictionary I use suggests that these terms are “archaic and not favored by Muslims.”

But I don’t think that the terms were used pejoratively.

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Posted: 05 June 2007 05:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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And Eskimo was dropped

Only in Canada.  Americans tend to be astonished to discover that the perfectly normal word Eskimo is viewed by many north of the border as some sort of ethnic slur.  (If anyone still believes the story that it means ‘eater of raw meat,’ that’s been disproved; see here for details.)

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Posted: 05 June 2007 05:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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languagehat - 05 June 2007 05:12 AM

And Eskimo was dropped

Only in Canada. 

It’s been out of use here in Zild for a long time too, except when referring to an ice-cream confectionery. I left school in 1983, and Inuit was already beginning to assert itself then.

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Posted: 05 June 2007 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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The trouble with Inuit is that not all Eskimos are Inuits. It leaves out the Yupik language group. There are relatively few Yupiks in Canada, but most of the Eskimos in Alaska are Yupik. Logically, this might be a reason that Eskimo continues to be used in the US, but since such usage issues rarely follow logic, I’m not sure that this is actually the reason.

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Posted: 06 June 2007 09:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I got pretty much everything wrong! - San, Saami, Esquimeaux - after following links.

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Posted: 06 June 2007 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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To return to the original post: although the term ‘Mohammedan’ may not have pejorative origins, there are certainly those who have found a pejorative use for it.

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