October 22, 2009

"Savage" isn't a negative word?!

My two cents worth--Recorder Herald, Salmon, IdahoDear Editor:

I'd like to put in my own "two cents" on Ms. Ungaretti's column in last week's The Recorder Herald.

She advocates the return of the portrait of a Native American as the "emblem" of the Salmon Savages, and insists that the word "savage" has no negative connotations, merely meaning "not domesticated or under human control, untamed."

Ms. Ungaretti, if it's inconvenient for you to wrestle with a heavy old dictionary when you're right in the middle of a biased rant, just go to www.dictionary.com.

Read carefully and you'll find that your definition of "untamed" refers to the use of the word when describing animals.

Since even you would be forced to admit, if you were cornered on it, that Native Americans are human beings, you'll see that the word means "uncivilized, fierce, brutal, cruel, unpolished, rude, boorish," etc., when describing people.

You probably have a thicker hide than I do, Ms. Ungaretti, but personally I feel a little insulted when foreigners use these terms to describe my people, the oft-misunderstood American race.

Peter McNevin
The same page helpfully provides Dictionary.com's definitions:Dictionary.com :: [Definition of sav-age ] Show Spelled Pronunciation [sav-ij] Show IPA adjective, noun, verb, -aged, -ag-ing. Use savage in a Sentence –adjective 1. fierce, ferocious, or cruel; untamed: savage beasts. 2. uncivilized; barbarous: savage tribes. 3. enraged or furiously angry, as a person. 4. unpolished; rude: savage manners. 5. wild or rugged, as country or scenery: savage wilderness. 6. Archaic. uncultivated; growing wild. –noun 7. an uncivilized human being. 8. a fierce, brutal, or cruel person. 9. a rude, boorish person. 10. a member of a preliterate society. –verb (used with object) 11. to assault and maul by biting, rending, goring, etc.; tear at or mutilate: numerous sheep savaged by dogs. 12. to attack or criticize thoroughly or remorselessly; excoriate: a play savaged by the critics. Origin: 1250–1300; ME savage, sauvage (adj.) < MF sauvage, salvage < ML salvāticus, for L silvāticus, equiv. to silv(a) woods + -āticus adj. suffix Related forms: sav-age-ly, adverb sav-age-ness, noun Synonyms: 1. wild, feral, fell; bloodthirsty. See cruel. 2. wild. 3. infuriated. 5. rough, uncultivated. 9. churl, oaf. Antonyms: 1. mild. 2, 4. cultured. 5. cultivated.Comment:  Ungaretti is almost literally 100% wrong. Every definition has negative connotations except maybe no. 5--and that's only because it refers to land, not people. Oops.

The stupidity of people trying to justify their stupid stereotypes never ceases to amaze me.

Judging by another posting, the Salmon Savages have gone a decade without their Indian mascot. Has the school lost its accreditation or crumbled into dust? Have the students dropped out, turned to drugs, or committed suicide? Has eliminating the mascot has caused any tangible harm whatsoever?

For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.

Below:  Naturally, Salmon's mascot was a stereotypical Indian chief from outside the region.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

Another negative connotation:

....association with a crazy talk radio personality, Michael Weiner, who calls himself "Savage".