Wednesday, February 05, 2003

ETYMOLOGY IN REVERSE: The lecturer in my bar exam cram course on family law, a white woman, gave this hypothetical ground for divorce: "Your husband moves into a crack house in the ghetto." Gasps, then a swelling murmur, filled the room. It took me a few moments to register: my classmates, black and white, assumed "ghetto" meant "poor black neighborhood," and in America, I suppose that's true. But for some reason, what immediately popped into my brain was an image of very confused Nazi soldiers wandering about the Warsaw Ghetto looking for black people and only finding Jews. Ain't language funny?

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