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MatPlus.Net Forum General Let's stop using the word "pickaninny" now
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(21) Posted by udo [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 12:19]

The word "pickaninny" is a derivation from the Spanish "pequeño niño" (little child, kleines Kind).

In her column "How it started" Jean Newton (= Hermine Neustadl Stich) wrote about origins of customs, words, phrases and so on.

See for example her article (about pickaninny) in the Cambridge Sentinel, 5 Mai 1934:

"How it started - by Jean Newton - That Word "Pickaninny" -
It is sometimes good for the soul to find that something we have regarded as original with us or peculiarly our own considerably pre-dates our own existence and in parts and places far removed from our own little circle on this earth!
That happens with the word "pickaninny" which most of us regards as an Americanism for negro children.
Many people are uncertain about it, wondering whether the little colored child would resent it as the modern enlightened negro naturally resents the term "nigger".
The fact ist that "pickaninny" is a word in good standing, meaning simply a "small child". Its derivation is from the Spanish "pequeno" meaning "little, young", or the Portuguese "pequeno" of which it is a diminutive!
The chances are that the term had its introduction into this country by way of Cuba." (end of article)


by the way: with a little change (i=a) we can make a new word: pick a nanny (pickananny)
or more thematic: pickfour (pick four, wähle vier)
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(22) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 12:41]

Alain, you don't understand the beliefs of modern movements - we just hide the supposedly evil words under the carpet, and voila, all evil disappears.
There's no time and wish for rich and deep conversation, using the vast variety of meanings SINCERELY wishing to understand each other. Here comes the time of machines so, we better reduce the languages to mere labels (and abandon all other human specific features as well).
'Multiculturality' means that all races and cultures should consume the same burgers and colas, or whatever the global propaganda dictates.
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(23) Posted by Darko Šaljić [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 13:17]

Alain & Predrag, I agree fully.
And this term is not refer to human, it refers on one chess piece and his movements.
I'm sure a black pawn (oops, I used word black!) feel offended.
You don't call a person pickaninny.

Please, don't touch history of chess problems we are proud of.
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(24) Posted by Jakob Leck [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 14:06]

How offensive a word (or a symbol) can be cannot be judged without context, Andrew. After thinking about it for some time, I would actually feel a bit akward about using the term "Negerlein-Thema" in German which might be a good literal translation. (So English not being my mother tongue might be a small factor here.)
But then again, little harm is done in the context of chess problems. The worst thing that can be said about it might be that it reminds people of a word that has over time become laden with resentments and hate that were transported by it or sentences containing it, but not necessarily implied by it (time and cultural background etc., i.e. context definitely plays a role here!). Removing it from our terminology seems like shooting the messenger - maybe even shooting a messenger that has come to the wrong adress - and I doubt there are benefits for fighting racism.

Btw. for Alain: If you consult "le robert":
vieilli et péjoratif Noir, Noire. Terme devenu raciste, sauf quand il est employé et revendiqué par les Noirs eux-mêmes.
outdated and pejorative: black (person), The term became racist, except for when it is used and reclaimed by the blacks themselves.)
Times change... In a current OED the term pickaninny is marked as offensive, in my 1987 Collins dictionary it's not.
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(25) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 15:31]

Thanks Jakob for this inénarrable (hilarious) quotation, perfect humour noir !

As the term "noir" has other senses (drunk, tragic...) I suggest for the next edition of Le Robert this kind of precision : "noir = saoul, se dit parfois d'une personne blanche qui a trop bu" (used sometimes when a person of white race drunked to much).

And of course, the famous Johnny Hallyday's song "Noir c'est noir" must be rewritten.
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(26) Posted by shankar ram [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 18:38]

I think "BP4" was used as an alternative sometimes. Why not adopt this and move on?
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(27) Posted by ichai [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 19:34]

On a 16x16 board it might be not clear
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(28) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 20:38]

BP4 : very exciting, instead of the musical pickaninny !

What should you say, Mr Shankar Ram (thanks au passage for the many beautiful problems of yours I have in my collection) if I decided to call you dorénavant ADIIA (A Distinguished Indian Intellectual Authority) ?

Hvala Dejan & Nikola. Hope to be in Zagreb very soon.
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(29) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 22:38]

Dobro nam došao, Alain!
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(30) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Monday, Aug 3, 2020 23:50]

Hvala puno , Nikola, laku noć !
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(31) Posted by Marcos Roland [Wednesday, Aug 5, 2020 15:25]

In Portuguese, we use the word "pequenino" (que=cke), which literally means "very small", "tiny". It can be used both as an adjective (for instance, "um pequenino grão de areia", meaning "a tiny grain of sand", as says a well-known Brazilian song) and as a name, meaning "little boy" or "little child".
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(32) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Friday, Aug 7, 2020 00:08]

A friend reminds me that the antepenultimate president of France and his new wife, former fashion model, possess a luxurious property named cap Nègre in Lavandou, beautiful place in Côte d'Azur. I did not hear any complain about this, while I still cannot find "tête de nègre" in my pastry shop.

Nowadays, indignation is very selective.
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(33) Posted by Mihail Croitor [Friday, Aug 7, 2020 18:39]

Bad, unusual discussion. In Russian exists a phrase "Каждый понимает в меру своей испорченности', it can be translate as "Vicious mind does vicious interpretations".
My interpretation of term Siegfried marks, Andrew Buchanan's interpretation was well specified.
In chess White plays versus Black, white pawn has 4 moves from initial position, black pawn has 4 moves from initial position. No rascism here, just useful terms.
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(34) Posted by Neal Turner [Saturday, Aug 8, 2020 14:52]

"No racism here, just useful terms."

So we take a racist term and make it 'useful' and it stops being racist?
When I came into problem chess I was surprised by the use of these words, not only 'pickaninny', but also 'albino' (having known one or two albinos).

Maybe our eastern European friends, without the historical baggage of the transatlantic nations and less exposure to multiculturalism, just don't get how offensive these terms are.
I imagine we are the only people, apart from the Klu Klux Klan, still using 'pickanniny', a word that should be consigned to history.
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(35) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Saturday, Aug 8, 2020 22:57]

Dear Neal,
If racism does not exist, or exists marginally, of course not at all among problemists, it is not a good idea to invent and develop it. Some criminals try to do that, especially in USA and in France, generously financed by the oligarchy interested by the destruction of nations. All they will obtain is the conditions for a civil war. I suppose it is not what you want.
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(36) Posted by ichai [Sunday, Aug 9, 2020 00:33]

I don't know if each problem have a solution. And then I have no opinion here
But, Alain, you use strange and extreme words : "...criminals...", "...oligarchy...", "...destruction...", "...civil war..."
What do you want exactly ? To intimidate Neal ?
This is a protest
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(37) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Sunday, Aug 9, 2020 08:11]

So here is my final statement on this matter.

First of all, you want to change the term "pickaninny" because it supposedly is offensive. It is not. The term means "little boy". The etymology, where the term originated, was already laid out here. It was adapted in the United States where it was used for little black boys. Then much later the term was deprecated, it was supposedly racist. Originally however it was used by people of the West Indies to refer to their children.

So what would changing this term achieve?
- It would give power to racists over chess, making it able for them to put an offensive meaning to any term and have it changed. The new term in place of "pickaninny"? Could be easily become charged as well and would have to be changed again and again.
- There are 104 years worth of literature using said term, which will teach people for decades still to use the term "pickaninny". There is nothing to be done about this.
- If someone would attempt to change this literature, whereas it regards deceased authors, this would be far more offensive than leaving that term as it is, as it would assert ownership of his work and changing it as one sees fit. Where do we stop? One change here, one change there, why not switch out a problem here or there, or an entire chapter? Once it starts, it doesn't stop anywhere.
- Having newer versions of said books also would make any historic research more difficult, unless the old versions are offered alongside. Unless changes are specifically mentioned or a version was reprinted as it was, you always should assume that anything you read was added in the latest version.
- As for the KKK using the term "pickaninny", they use another meaning of the word, which indeed is offensive. So this can't be compared.
- Also black people use the term "nigger" all the time, which supposedly is offensive, to refer to each other or themselves.[1] And some want white people to use it normally because that takes all the racist power of the word away.[2] So I don't think they really care about the term "pickaninny" being used in chess composition. What is or is not offensive is not determined by the term used but by how it is used. If you call a black person you don't know a "effing nigger", that is offensive. If you call a good friend "my nigger", that could be a term of enderament even. In such a way, "pickaninny" has a greatly positive meaning in chess composition.
- Language constantly changes. That is fine. But terms that we use should be usable forever. In Germany, people lie about giving huge presents to people who were interested in them ("einen Korb gegeben") because that was done several hundred years ago. Offensive lies such as this are used daily. We also have the terms "Tilsiter" (Tilsit cheese), "Königsberger Klopse", etc., despite said places now being called Sovetsk and Kaliningrad. I do not see anyone being offended by that. Not Russians who live here, not anyone else. So everyone is just as offended by historic terms as he chooses to be.
- One point about the proposed replacement: "Melano" sounds too much like "melanoma". So now black pawns are three fourths of cancer that spreads to four other squares? I find that much more offensive than "pickaninny". So, yes, we could try to find another term instead. But as I said already, we should not.

So someone might find a term that was used by West Indians for their babies offensive because racost groups appropriated it after it had been an everyday term in the United States. If you however think a bit about it, they will see that the term is not used in an offensive way in chess. On the contrary, chess is enjoyable by all people, all cultures, and while the terms used might be outdated in everyday language or offensive even, there is no such offensive meaning in the context of chess.
And yes, words sometimes have two meanings.[3]

I hope you will understand why I listed pop culture instead of scientific sources below. After all, would you rather trust two black peopöe about the word "nigger" or some scientists who might not have experienced how it is to be black? And yes, let us ignore Joe Biden's racist lie that people are not black who don't vote for him, otherwise we first would have to define what "black" means at all, and then the FIDE laws of chess themselves would need to be rewritten with that in mind, and we are in a rabbit hole that never ends. I never saw any square of a chessboard vote for anyone, anyway.

[1] "How many niggers do you know like this?" -Xzibit, Paparazzi (2007) - contains obviously also other "offensive" language
[2] Leakaveli, Let The White Kids Say Nigga (2018 or 2019)
[3] "you know sometimes words have two meanings" -Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven (1971)
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(38) Posted by Neal Turner [Sunday, Aug 9, 2020 15:14]

So we have two points of view - stick with tradition or make a change.
For the traditionalists it's easy, they can just carry on using whatever terms they want.
The problem for the reformers is to come up with a good alternative which has a chance to become generally accepted.
Somehow I think that Andrew's suggestion of "albino" and "melano" doesn't quite fit the bill.

Someone will prove me wrong, but it seems these pawn moves are special in that it's the only theme for which we use different terms depending on whether it's White or Black implementing it.
We don't have seperate words for black and white batteries, black and white Bristols, black and white knight's wheel, black and white promotions.
So we can free ourselves from this albino/pickaninny trap by simply deciding to use a single term whichever side is moving the pawns.
Now it becomes easy - we already have the term for all the promotions: 'Allumwandlung' (AUW),
so going to Google translate with 'all pawn movements' we get: 'Alle Bauernbewegungen' (ABB).

Thankyou very much.
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(39) Posted by Geoff Foster [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 00:59]

The 8 moves of a knight are called a knight's wheel for a black knight, and a knight's tour for a white knight.
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(40) Posted by Darko Šaljić [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 09:15]

"For the traditionalists it's easy, they can just carry on using whatever terms they want."

This is bigest of all other nonsense (an oxymoron almost), close to one about "eastern European countries" and their ignorance about multiculturalism.
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Let's stop using the word "pickaninny" now