Code Switch: Word Watch
Jul 14, 2014 — Spoiler alert: Like many bad things in life, some of the first usages of the slur that we could find are from children's rhymes.
Jun 29, 2014 — The term dates back to the 19th century when white traders would swap "firewater" for Indian goods and "off the reservation" was "a lonely and dangerous place for an aboriginal American to be."
Jun 6, 2014 — If you grew up in Mexico City like I did, you know the word mamacita is laden with sexual overtones. The figurative translation is "hot momma." And the moniker is never used to describe a real mother.
May 31, 2014 — The term "mumbo jumbo" dates back centuries and traces its roots to West Africa. It is widely believed to come from the Mandinka people who make up the largest ethnic group in what is now Ghana.
May 18, 2014 — In sonnets and skin-whitening ads, the word "fair" stands in for both beauty and paleness. Once upon a time, it simply meant lovely; hundreds of years later, it gained the meaning "light-skinned."
May 11, 2014 — This is the story of why our beloved ice cream truck plays blackface minstrel music that sends kids dashing into homes in a Pavlovian frenzy searching for money to buy a Popsicle.
Apr 27, 2014 — The original root language of "ghetto" is unknown. But its original meaning has long been clear. By the 17th century, Rome and Venice had segregated Jewish residents into ghettos.
Apr 13, 2014 — The Persian and Indian garment was brought home by British colonials and made stylish for women by French designers. At first, PJs were seen as a cultural challenge to the American use of nightshirts.
Mar 30, 2014 — The words used to describe race and ethnicity are ever in flux. A favored term one decade becomes passé the next and not nice soon after that. But, the motivation for change remains constant: Respect.
Mar 23, 2014 — Vanilla has become a cultural metaphor for blandness and whiteness. But the flavor's history is rife with conquest and slavery and theft.