I am sure forummers mean no offence by quoting from 19th century or earlier writers.
However, I suggest we should all bear in mind the perspective of the many South Africans, like myself, who enjoy this site.
If I may explain: The Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles 1996:342 defines ‘kaffir’ (noun and adjective) as being offensive in all senses and combinations.
To decent South Africans, among whom I include myself, ‘kaffir’ is a comprehensively abusive word. It is exemplary of the disavowal of Black people’s humanity before and during apartheid. In fact, the word is offensive to the extent of being unspeakable today - its use constitutes a hate crime in South Africa.
Therefore, I would like contributors to be fully aware that to some forummers, the word is unpardonably painful.
Surely we can, without interfering with the sense of what we are writing, cease repetition of the "k" word - even when quoting verbatim from earlier sources? There must be alternatives out there which lack its singular cruelty.
I'd be interested to hear others' views, particularly those living in South Africa.
The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.
I don’t have any problem with your request to be honest. It isn’t a part of our vocabulary here in Australia. There are a few others that I have no intention of repeating that would raise the ire of some though.
Is the term Islamic in origin? I seem to recall reading that it originally meant ‘unbeliever’ .
In saying that I believe that Forum Members use it in the context that for some reason the conflicts were known as the K... Wars. Using that term it would be universally understood what the topic was about and not to offend anyone.
This is an important issue to discuss as it is very pertinent to the focus of this site, the topics we discuss and the language we use. There is an increasing vocabulary of words that are imbued with connotations and past associations that, as you say, are offensive and repugnant to very many people today.
To use those words in current speech and writing is reprehensible and, as a site moderator, I would remove such posts and their authors from the site.
When it comes to the reporting of contemporary Boer War documents, I personally have a different view and am more accepting of the use of these words. We cannot change our history and should not, in my opinion, try to re-write it. The Boer War exemplifies a set of paradigms and perspectives that have changed very much in the intervening years and society has yet further to go if the ideals of respect, equality and opportunity are to be fully realised. The contemporary texts teach us about our past and its faults. They represent our shared history and help to educate the generations to come to see the faults of the past so that they can make better decisions in the future.
Dr David Biggins
The following user(s) said Thank You: BereniceUK, Rob D
I was reading Gordon Everson's introduction to his 1853 roll where is makes some pertinent points:
Today, the word Kaffir, which is Arabic for unbeliever, has a derogatory connotation and perhaps some will seek to find offence in its use here. Contemporary maps mark the area of the troubles as British Kaffraria and, even if I wished to censor history, I would have found it impossible to totally avoid a term which was commonly used during the 18th and 19th centuries to encompass different native tribes.
It is worth reflecting that in India Moslems referred to Europeans as Kaffirs (or Gaffyres, etc). The British infidels seem not to have been unduly perturbed and accepted that, to non-Christians, they were the unbelievers.