Discussion in another thread raises the question whether the work "Paki" as a short form for "Pakistani" is intrinsically offensive.

I maintain that it is not.
It is no more intrinsically offensive than "Jew".
For people who dislike Jews or Pakis, both words can be used in an offensive way, but the offence lies not in the word, but in the attitude of the speaker.
Tony Cooper gave the example:
Most certainly the word is used pejoratively in the US. Any time the nationality of the person is designated when ... gave me the wrong change." Pejorative: "I think that Paki clerk down at the 7/11 gave me the wrong change."

But it is not the word itself that is pejorative, but the racist attitude of speaker that makes it so. The ethnic origin of the clerk is irrelevant to the alleged offence (giving the wrong change).
And the same applies if someone said "I think that Jew clerk down at the 7/11 gave me the wrong change."
It doesn't make "Jew" intrinsically pejorative.
The same can be seen in exchanges like the following:

"My cousin was murdered by burglars last week."
"Were they white or black?"
I've heard many people say things like that. It does not make "white" or "black" pejorative. It all depends on the context in which the word is used.

Just Google "Paki cricket" or "Pakis cricket" and count the number of times the word is used pejoratively in the first 10 hits.

It will show that the idea that "Paki" is intrinsically pejorative is nonsense.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
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Discussion in another thread raises the question whether the work "Paki" as a short form for "Pakistani" is intrinsically offensive. I maintain that it is not. It is no more intrinsically offensive than "Jew".

"Jew" as an adjective is claimed to be offence. As a noun, it's all right. This stuff is way too complex for me.

Even though the world knows that these areas are susceptible to this sort of thing, there apparently are no warning systems in place to attempt to mitigate a disaster like this even for those areas literally a 1000 km away, a distance that puts the inundation, I think, a couple of hours from the original seismic event. It is simply unconscionable that I could find out here in America about this threat before people who are actually at grave risk could.
Steve Hayes wrote on 26 Jan 2005:
Discussion in another thread raises the question whether the work "Paki" as a short form for "Pakistani" is intrinsically offensive. ... that makes it so. The ethnic origin of the clerk is irrelevant to the alleged offence (giving the wrong change).

I think this analysis is too simplistic. How many clerks are there at the local 7/11? It could very well be that there are three full-time clerks who work rotating shifts, each one an immigrant from a different country, and none of whose names one knows. We can make one a Pakistani, one an Iraqi, and one a Japanese.
A: I think the clerk at the 7/11 gave me the wrong change. B: Which one?
A: The Paki.
In this case, "the Paki" seems to me to have the same emotional value as "the Jap" would have.
And the same applies if someone said "I think that Jew clerk down at the 7/11 gave me the wrong change." It doesn't make "Jew" intrinsically pejorative.

Whenever it's used as an adjective like that, it's intended to offend. There's a difference between saying "He's a Jew" and "He's the Jew clerk": the former (assuming it is a true description of someone like Senator Joe Lieberman, for example, and not said in a sneering tone, etc) is not offensive, but the latter will more than likely be taken as a racial/ethnic/religious slur.
The same can be seen in exchanges like the following: "My cousin was murdered by burglars last week." "Were they ... It does not make "white" or "black" pejorative. It all depends on the context in which the word is used.

True enough. There are contexts in which the question is a valid one.
Just Google "Paki cricket" or "Pakis cricket" and count the number of times the word is used pejoratively in the first 10 hits. It will show that the idea that "Paki" is intrinsically pejorative is nonsense.

What about the word "Jap"? It is directly analogous to "Paki", but "Jew" is not: There is no one-word long form for someone who is Jewish, except, perhaps, "Israeli", but that is not an accurate descriptor of every Jew, and not every Israeli is a Jew. There is, however, a one-word long form for someone who is from Pakistan, viz. a "Pakistani". Someone from Japan is a "Japanese", non-pejoritavely, but a "Jap" pejoritavely. By analogy a flawed mode of argument then, "Paki" should be and probably is as pejorative as "Jap".

OTOH, as long as we can say there is no inherent connection between the shape of a word and its meaning, we can also say that no word in inherently pejorative unless, perhaps, it was coined to be a pejorative, but even that is a matter of knowledge and context.

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
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Discussion in another thread raises the question whether the work ... is not. It is no more intrinsically offensive than "Jew".

"Jew" as an adjective is claimed to be offence. As a noun, it's all right. This stuff is way too complex for me.

It's not rocket science. In a given society, if usages A, B, and C are known to cause offense, then you either avoid them because you don't wish to cause offense, or you use them because you wish to cause offense! If you don't wish to offend Jews (and others who don't care for offensive language), then don't use "Jew" as an adjective.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Discussion in another thread raises the question whether the work "Paki"as a short form for "Pakistani" is intrinsically offensive. I maintain that it is not.

In the US and UK it is. I can see from the Web that the situation is different in Asia (including the non-continent of "Oceania"/"Australasia"), so maybe in South Africa too? Having said this, the more usual, and safer, short form is "Pak".
It is no more intrinsically offensive than "Jew".

That's like comparing the word "***" with the word "orphan".

Adrian
It's not rocket science. In a given society, if usages A, B, and C areknown to cause offense, then you either avoid them because you don't wish tocause offense, or you use them because you wish to cause offense!

This is right: but omits the catch that interlocutors do not necessarily belong to the same "given society" of usage. Examples:

1. Jonathan Milller (British) explained humorouslydecades ago, that he is not really a Jew, just sort of Jew-ish.

2. In Canadian French (Quebec) the noun bloke iscognate with squarehead or moron i.e. is used only as an insult. No French Canadian I have yet met
knew that in the source language bloke is inoffensive (= chap, person, etc.)

Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
(Ottawa, Canada)
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"Jew" as an adjective is claimed to be offence. As a noun, it's all right. This stuff is way too complex for me.

It's not rocket science. In a given society, if usages A, B, and C are known to cause offense, then ... don't wish to offend Jews (and others who don't care for offensive language), then don't use "Jew" as an adjective.

But how do you know that they cause offence? Who do you believe when they say it causes offence? This appears to me to be the crux of a lot of debates like that.

Oliver C.
It's not rocket science. In a given society, if usages ... for offensive language), then don't use "Jew" as an adjective.

But how do you know that they cause offence? Who do you believewhen they say it causes offence? This appears to me to be the crux of alot of debates like that.

No Tiger Team needed here, surely? If somebody tells you something's offensive, you take his position seriously; if several other members of his group agree with him, you believe it. If there's no clear consensus, you proceed with courtesy and caution.
Mike.
Maybe it should be added that, in that usage, "bloke" means an English speaker of either sex; more specifically, an English Canadian. As to the word's general inoffensiveness, I think the distinction by society of usage is relevant. I remember reading a novel in the '70s, whose name I don't recall, featuring an American soldier stationed in England who used the word quite offensively, as an adjective. But his behaviour was generally offensive. CDB
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