Monday, September 15, 2008

Say What?

So I was recently telling you all a story about June using less than appropriate language. As it turns out, it is easier than you think to stumble across derogatory words. I myself do not have a very extensive vocabulary when it comes to expletives. I didn't grow up in a house with swearing and I haven't had many associates who use dirty language. Oh and I'm not a guy (I think they are exposed more often to that type of language--although I have heard of plenty of women who can swear like a sailor). Needless to say, I don't know too many of the 'bad' words except the ones most commonly used.
To my chagrin, nowadays seemingly harmless words can end up having a negative meaning, depending on what company you are with. Let me tell you my experience and see if you can spot the offender.
There is a new show on PBS called Sid the Science Kid. My children enjoy watching it and they have been getting to know the characters. There is a little girl with pink hair named Gabriella. Robyn couldn't quite remember the name so she decided that a much better name for her would be Pinko. I thought it was a cute little name, so even when June would argue that her name was Gabriella, I would side with Robyn and call her Pinko.
Well, Tyler happened to be in the car for one of these conversations. June said something like, "It reminds me of what Gabriella did." And I said, "NO, it's PINKO!" to which Robyn giggled and Tyler said, "I can't believe you just said that."
"What? What did I say?"
"Don't you know what Pinko means?"
"Obviously not or would I have just yelled it?"
Turns out Pinko is (how did Tyler put it) kinda like calling someone a Commie. The official definition is this:

Pinko is a derogatory term for a person regarded as sympathetic to Communism, though not necessarily a Communist Party member. The term has its origins in the notion that pink is a lighter shade of red, the color associated with communism; thus pink could be thought of as a "lighter form of communism" promoted by mere supporters of socialism who weren't, themselves, "card-carrying" communists.

Anyway, I had no clue. It sounded like a harmless word to me. So adults are able to mistakenly say inappropriate words as well as children. I'm sure there is much worse I could have said, but I'll try to restrain myself from yelling Pinko in public. And if you didn't know about that word, perhaps I have saved you some embarrassment in the future as well.


Katie Phelps said...

I like you run into problems like that more often than I'd like to. It's kind of sad that our world has turned such innocent words into something negative or bad. It's good we don't know though, right?

Kari said...

Who would have thought? Is it really bad to say that word in public now days? Just curious.

meganmushrat said...

Actually, I had forgotten about that. It was used a lot back in the days when communism was considered a real threat (ie. we were in the middle of the cold war). I hadn't realized it is still a 'taboo' word. By the way, you have to watch yourself in other english-speaking countries. For example, don't call a homeless person a 'bum' when you're in England. It is a not very nice word for 'rear end'. I remember the neighbor girl trying to find a polite way to tell my mother that when we were there!

Stacie said...

You did save me from any embarassment in the future because I had no idea about that word and what it meant. So crazy how a completely innocent word conjured up by a young child could be so derogatory :( It really is a sad thing about our world.

¡Vieve! said...

I never would have guessed that that was a bad word! Goes to show word is safe.

Desmama said...

I don't think it's a vulgar word, it's just a word she probably had no idea about the political implications of. It's somewhat akin to calling someone an anarchist--it has more political overtones than anything else. It's not a "bad" word, in the sense that it's a swear word, unless you really hate people with more liberal political views (I'm sure some people think I'm a pinko. No big deal. It's not a slang word or a swear word).

Kayla said...

I loved your post, because I say things like that all the time. Probably because I'm totally blonde, but I'll say things in the most innocent way--not knowing what it means--and then find out later that it has alot more depth than I knew. Funny though that such a simple word could mean so much!