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Clive I'd hesitate to say that classifying someone by their skin colour, their ethnicity and their religion is pretty neutral.
Perhaps I should have posted in controversial subjects instead of Vocab. Emotion: smile There's got to be some irony here.
It seems like all the classifications in all the categories are relatively free from prejudice in this case. I'm not sure if that makes it special or not.

I've had two black friends, one of each gender, who were close enough to forget occasionally that I was not black. I'll admit it seemed really strange to hear the girl use the term "paddy" in reference to racial "outsiders," but she never used it in reference to me. It was definitely a pejorative, and I can't say that I liked it; but it was so mild as to become neutral for all intents and purposes.
The other case was harder to get out of my mind, although it seemed humorous. The guy really hated John Wayne because he played war heros but was never in the military. My friend remarked that Wayne's pink ass never saw a second of combat. At that moment, I felt like an outsider, but again, it was very mild.
I guess my point is that prejudice without animus is not really prejudice - or, at least, it's in a special category.
I know white jazz critics who have accused Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis of being racists, but I think that's a bunch of bull.
CliveHi guys,

I'd hesitate to say that classifying someone by their skin colour, their ethnicity and their religion is pretty neutral.
Can you think of any other cases where we do that?

You're right, there probably aren't any equivalents for other combinations. I was thinking that as pure descriptors, the terms are neutral. The problem would come from lumping people into a group with a term that may be offensive in certain contexts.
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CliveI'd hesitate to say that classifying someone by their skin colour, their ethnicity and their religion is pretty neutral.
Can you think of any other cases where we do that?
Using such slang can be 'pretty neutral' when the social group referred to is one of comparably high status to one's own social group. Such classifications are usually not 'pretty neutral' when referring to groups that have been historically discriminated against. It can, however, be OK to use such slang when one belongs to the same historically-oppressed group as that referred to. A black person using the word nigger is unlikely to be using the term pejoratively.

An example of non-pejorative racial slang from Australia and New Zealand is the word 'Pom', which means 'Englishperson'. Englishperson often sounds far too formal, so it's quite common for a newspaper columnist to write a sentence such as: 'Why can't we just do it like the Poms?' (Do not use this sentence in relation to the game of cricket. Emotion: smile )

Because the social status of your average Australian and average Englishperson is comparable, the term 'Pom' has been used fairly neutrally for as long as I can remember. Australians have been historically discriminated against by the English, but that was some time ago, and most Australians are proud of their convict heritage, so the word 'Pom' has lost any whiff of tyranny it might have once had. It might also be significant that fully 5% of Australians could get a British passport and become 'Poms' tomorrow.

If you wanted to whinge about a Pom, you might use the pejorative idiom 'whinging Pom' - ironic, wouldn't you say?

The term 'Kiwi', which Australians use to refer to the people of New Zealand, is not pejorative. The term 'Yank' can be pejorative (perhaps because of America's imperialistic tendencies) but only mildly so.

Some info from Wikipedia:

The term pommy, often shortened to pom, is commonly used by speakers of English from Australia, New Zealand, and sometimes South Africa as well as speakers of Afrikaans. Although it was originally a derogatory term, it was ruled no longer offensive in 2006 by the Australian Advertising Standards Board and in 2010 by the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority .
Hmm... censorship.

I guess I won't be starting a thread on swearing any time soon. Although, to truly speak like a native, a student of English must really master the art. I can't remember the last time I went to see an Australian-penned play that didn't include at least a couple of naughty words.

So that non-English speakers know the word that has been censored above, it is n*gger, where * represents the letter 'i'. The word is highly offensive to many people. Unless you are an expert English speaker and know how to use this word without causing offense, do not use it.
Thanks for the great post, Futurist. Sorry about the censorship.
Have you ever noticed how famous entertainers can use the subject term with impunity when referring to each other? Emotion: rolleyes
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