Wog

From Academic Kids

Template:Wiktionary Wog is a word with several meanings, one commonly derogatory, the others not.

Contents

As a racial epithet in British English

Missing image
Golliwogg2.jpg
Illustrator Florence Kate Upton's Golliwogg and friends from The Adventures of two Dutch Dolls And A Golliwogg, in which he was described as "a horrid sight, the blackest gnome.".

British racial term originating in the colonial period of the British Empire. It was generally used as a label for the natives of India, North Africa and the Middle East. By the 1950s it had become a pejorative term used in order to offend.

The origins of the term are unclear. Most dictionaries say "wog" either possibly or likely derives from the generic term golliwog after the Golliwogg, a "grotesque" blackface minstrel doll-character from a children's book published in 1895. Various facetious explanations include the claim that it originated from acronyms for "Worthy/Wily Oriental Gentleman" or variants thereof, or for "Workers of Government", used to refer to early immigrants into the United Kingdom. Such attempts to explain the word's origin are apocryphal at best and have no foundation in fact.

The use of the word is discouraged in Britain, and most dictionaries refer to the word with the caution that it is slang, derogatory, and offensive. James Robertson & Sons, a British manufacturer of jams and preserves, discontinued use of the Golliwog as its trademark in the early 1990s for similar reasons. It is generally considered unwise to use it in modern Britain without expecting an extreme reaction.

The phrase "The wogs start at Calais" is commonly used to characterise a stodgy Europhobic viewpoint, and more generally the view that Britain (more commonly England) is inherently separate from (and superior to) the Continent. In this case, "wog" describes any foreign, un-English person.

As a racial reference in Australian English

Wog is also a slang term in Australian English, refering to people of Southern European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ancestry not traditionally encompassed in the Australian definition of "White". Specifically it implies Italians and Greeks, but also Spaniards, people from the Balkans (Croatians, Bosnians, Serbians, etc.), Portuguese, Maltese, Arabs, Turks, and Iranians. It also often includes Latin Americans grouped together with those of Spanish ancestry.

It may occasionally extend to people from other parts of Europe or the Levant. Migrants from the Netherlands sometimes refer to themselves as clog wogs.

This meaning came into popular use in the 1950s when Australia accepted large numbers of immigrants from Southern Europe. Although originally used as a pejorative, the term is increasingly used more affectionally, especially by the individuals the term is used to describe.

As a synonym for "illness" in Australian English

Wog is also used in Australia (less so these days) to mean a minor illness, so slang for a cold or the flu. Once the racial meaning became prevalent this lead the way open for bad jokes along the lines of Yesterday I was in bed with a wog punning on the previous meaning.

The derogatory nature of the term when used as a racial taunt succeeded in driving out use of the term wog to describe illness. Users of the term risked being labeled a racist by people not realising the context in which it was being used.

As a term in Scientology

Scientologists also use the term "wog" to describe an individual who is a non-Scientologist. Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard employed the term in his lectures and writings.

Maritime usage

Wog is a shortened version of the word polliwog, used for sailors during the crossing the line ceremony, on the first time they cross the equator. This use is entirely non-derogatory and is not limited to British English.


See also

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