Members views on this point of delicacy.

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by bamboo43, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Hi All,

    I have some new material for my website, sent in by a family of a Chindit. Its a great 5 page diary from a Private soldier in 1943, brilliant content and has opened up a well known incident from that year.

    Anyhow the dilemma is this: use of language?

    Within the script the "N" word is used, in a totally soft and harmless way I should add, but there nonetheless.

    Should I leave it as an accurate representation of the document or delete it in some way so as not to cause any unwanted offence. I do hate all this PC stuff, but I need to be responsible here.

    What do you think?

  2. Philip Reinders

    Philip Reinders Very Senior Member

    Well if the family give permission to use it, why not use it, it was written by him for some reason and at that moment, I would use it the way it came to you.
  3. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    I personally think that the diary should be published just as it is, otherwise its not really what the soldier wrote is it? Maybe you could mention in the intro that the diary could cause offence to some people, but to be honest as you say there is too much PC these days.

  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello Steve

    I think you have hit it on the head "responsible"

    Whichever way you go you will be damned by individuals.

    I would suggest you remove it ,I am sure the article will still read true of the time.

  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    If you link on here to a website containing the word "New-bie" then Adam will probably excommunicate you. Is it worth the risk ? :unsure:
  6. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Steve, I can see both points of view here but it was written at a time when speech and peoples attitudes were not the same as they are today, also as you say it is not used in an offensive or aggresive manner.........on the other hand there will be those who may take umbrage, so it could be an option to remove it if it does not take away from the context of the piece.
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Funny you should mention this. I'm working my way through the Kensington's history and the same word is used when refering to an incident involving the locals in N. Africa...I'll be posting it verbatum.

    As much as I hate the word-they are not my words and are a reflection of that time and what was deemed acceptable in those days.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I agree publish the text as it is. I don't believe archive material should be censored, whatever the source. Treat the reader as an adult who can make up their own minds about the content.

    However as Lesley says, if uncomfortable at leaving it at that, add a note to the page. The intent is what's important, and the intention here is to give a full contemporary account in the man's own words, not to cause offence.

    Good to hear the material is still rolling in Steve.
  9. kiwigeordie

    kiwigeordie Senior Member

    Steve. I wouldn't change a thing. There are plenty of movies and books around (admittedly mostly old) that use the 'N' word. Changing or deleting it might give new readers a different idea of the 'mores' that existed at the time when the word was in common use, usually without any intent to insult in the UK at least.

    In Peter Jackson's remake of "The Dambusters" which is shortly to be released, they have changed Gibson's dog's name to "Digger" to avoid this term. As the dog's true name was also the code word used for a successful attack on the dams, they have introduced an historical innacuracy.

    Rather like the accusations of 'revisionism' we see in some posts.
  10. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.


    It's a contemporary document from 1943 so publish it in it's original, unabridged form.

    Your author chose to use it but so did Kipling, so did Mark Twain. It was the language of the time.
  11. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    I'm against any censorship but you do have a responsibility. As others have said I would leave a note explaining. History shouldn't be censored.
  12. La-de-da-Gunner Graham

    La-de-da-Gunner Graham Senior Member

    As much as I hate it the N word was used on Sky News the other day reporting on a trial from the Old Bailey where they first emphasised they were quoting the proceedings verbatim.

    However, I would say do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

  13. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    My own personal diaries make much use of the word "Eyeties"

    When quoting a diary that has used this word I usually qualify it by saying "If I were writing this today I would have used another word"

    Today is the operative word

  14. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    In the US, it can never, never, NEVER be used, no matter the context.

    I am being completely serious when I say that if you even posed the question in the large multi national company that I work for you would be required to attend sensitivity training.

    I don't know if the term 'third rail' is used in other parts of the world but here if something is third rail it means you stay away from it and don't touch it. It originates from the third rail of subway trains that carries high amperage electricity.

    That word is definitely third rail here.
  15. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks everyone, your views are really helpful and as always well explained. From our discussion I feel I should leave the text as it was presented, but with a note confirming the reasons for that decision.

    Best wishes:)

  16. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    That seems a reasonable view - if we start tinkering with contemporary documents that is a form of revisionism which alters the context.
  17. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    In the US, it can never, never, NEVER be used, no matter the context.


    Insert a disclaimer and go ahead, Steve.
  18. Hebridean Chindit

    Hebridean Chindit Lost in review...

    Last weekend, Steve and myself discussed the use of florid and non PC language, and the problems therein...

    The shortening of Japanese to "Japs" is derogatory but it litters the stuff I have... I remove the vowels from some more interesting items but not much else... "Japs" stays put.

    The only place I have edited "history" is where it could be viewed as a slur; moments of "embarassment" during extreme moments of conflict - Steve noted the same things within his findings...

    Should we remove the use of/comments on cigarettes to keep the PC types at bay...? Whatever we do, there will be critics...

    Does anyone here know that "paki" means "pure" in that countries language, and the primary embassy car has the registration number PAK1... shows what they think of it...

    In the US, it can never, never, NEVER be used, no matter the context.
    ... That word is definitely third rail here.

    ... Unless you are Samuel L Jackson or a rap-artist... :D
    ps married to a Kentuckian that used to have a pet black lamb (early sixties) called S*mb*... gud e'tin, as her uncle would say... ;)
  19. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member


    Insert a disclaimer and go ahead, Steve.

    Thanks for the link Za Rodinu, very funny and well observed.
  20. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks again Ken.

    And what a place to have the conversation in the middle of the Embankment pedestrian bridge on a sunny Sunday morning, it must of looked like a scene from 'Spooks'!! Bagsy I am the Russian agent!:D

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