Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'm not offended

UNC-TV host D. G. Martin has an interesting book review in the Southern Pines Pilot today.

Forget about your "race" as the main thing that sets you apart from other Southerners. Down here we are all "creoles" of one sort of another. It is your ethnic background even more than your race that distinguishes you from others.

In the past we have usually defined Southern people in terms of black and white, but a new volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture shows that race has been overemphasized and ethnicity underemphasized as keys to understanding who we Southerners are.

He sketches out how this academic volume builds the case that twenty generations of cultural exchange - "creolization" - have created a regional identity that transcends skin color. It's an intriguing and potentially unifying idea, if it's valid -- or we work to make it so.

His one criticism is for the editors' desire to reform the traditional term "Scotch-Irish" to reflect the more correct identifier "Scots". Scots Irish? "Let's put that petty criticism aside," he says.

I for one appreciate the nuances of language, to the point that I pronounce "Celtic" with the properly hardened Gaelic "c" (i.e. /keltic/) ... but I will freely admit to continuing the traditional pronunciation of Boston's pro basketball team, the "/seltics/".

Agreed that "Scotch" refers to whiskey and "Scots" to people, but really, as one of their descendents, I'm not bothered by the label "Scotch-Irish". It flows pretty well.

HT: Carolina Journal

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