posted on Nov, 19 2009 @ 11:28 PM
I think it makes perfect sense that some words can be offensive in certain circumstances but perfectly appropriate in others.
For instance, if I say somebody is gay, I might simply be stating that they are a homosexual, or I might be intending it as an insult, whether or not
that person actually is homosexual. It could even mean I'm saying that they are happy, though that use of 'gay' is pretty much dead in modern
Or imagine that a man named Richard is around, and I shout at him, "Hey, Dick", am I calling him by a shorthand version of Richard, or am I calling
him a dick as an insult? One is fine and one isn't.
Going to the example of black people again, if you refer to a black person as 'boy', some people (older ones more likely) would take it as an
insult, because it used to be used as a derogatory term for a black man. Depending on your intent, and the experience of the person, they might or
might not take offense.
I wouldn't be surprised if things like the n-word are used as you explain in other cultures as well, though I can't think of any examples quite like
that. Likely black people are, as you said you are American, the minority you are most familiar with, which is probably why the only example you have
relates to them.
I have no idea if I helped, but that's my two cents :p