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  Issue 150, page 4

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New Ask Us Theory About
Sez You...

From Drummerbob:

A friend of mine in Minnesota. collects things from the ending years of the 1800's. When we were in Denver, we went to a flea market and my friend bought a box of old books.  When he went through the box, there was a diary in which the writer talked about a bad wound he got in the Civil War.  He talked about the railroad system the government was going to put in.  He said there were ads that said "Nigro diggers needed for govt. railroad work". Then he said later, "they are now asking for niggers (nigro diggers) for high paying govt. railroad project".  I am not a racist, I just thought this would be interesting for you guys.

It's certainly interesting but absolutely unrelated to the real history of "the N-word".

From Gary Woods:

I've just visited your site for the first time, while trying to explain to my 8 year old son the meaning of nigger.  I'd just like to say what a great site I think you've got and that I found all the other explanations totally fascinating.

Thanks for the praise, Gary.

From Roger:

Re Words to the Wise: 'orris [= violet root]', orris is in fact the root of one of various species of Iris, from which the word derives. The entry in OED2 says the needful: "The rhizome of three species of Iris (I. florentina, I. germanica, I. pallida), which has a fragrant odor like that of violets; it is used powdered as a perfume and in medicine".

Yet again we are amazed by the obscure erudition of our readers. Thanks, Roger.  The page will be amended accordingly.

From Carolyn Diamond:

Re The Women's Dictionary [Laughing stock issue 149]:

I've also found that the addition of the word whatever, following on from a judiciously applied fine, can add particular resonance to the response, indicating both a certain insouciance and yet almost burning martyr-esque self-sacrificial tone and accusation.  Highly effective.


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