Monday, May 9, 2011


Yesterday I had a delightful Mother's Day lunch in Kyneton, which now has approximately seven cafes per square metre, more than I thought possible.

I drove back to the metrop with my sister. She is a lover of story tapes too and I was pleased that the car was stocked with Thank You, Jeeves! by PG Wodehouse for the home journey.

I was relaxing into the delightfully complicated sentences with hilariously redundant clauses when I was assaulted by the term, "nigger minstrels". Wodehouse used this phrase repeatedly for about ten minutes.

It hurt my ears.

I've read Thank You, Jeeves! before and didn't like the term then. But hearing it out loud was much worse.

I'm in two minds as to whether "nigger minstrels" should be edited to read "minstrels".

My reasons against changing it
The word didn't have the same connotations then, and it's interesting and illuminating to experience the the historical variations in language. Also, I believe in changing what you're saying not what you've said. He wrote it, it was published, the ship has sailed.

My reasons for changing it
It would be a smoother listening experience if the word was taken out. It jars in my ears, so I can only imagine how someone would feel if they'd personally experienced the word as an insult. Wodehouse is all about humorous, escapist fiction. Running into a word like that in his books is like finding a poo in a bag of pastries. Unwelcome.

(Although thinking about it, finding a poo almost anywhere is going to be unwelcome. Bascially, if you didn't already know the poo was there, finding out is going to be hard.)

Anyway I don't know. I just don't know.

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