Are Words Understood differently in different cultural Contexts?
The case of the footballers Luis Suárez and Patrice Evra has aroused huge attention in the media in the last couple of months. According to the FA (Football Association), the Uruguayan striker Suárez, playing for Liverpool, is accused of insulting Manchester United’s player Evra. More precisely, on Saturday 15 October 2011 Patrice Evra has been racially offended (“Negro”) by Luis Suárez “at least ten times”. Suárez even confessed that he used the word “Negro”, but meant with no negative connotation. In Spanish-speaking countries the word “el negro/ la negra” is often used for “pal” or “mate” for men and women of all skin colors. Nevertheless, after that, the court has pronounced Suárez guilty and fined him with £ 40,000 and an eight game ban. On the examples of “negro” and the German word “Negerkuss”, I want to analyze how these words are differently understood in different cultural contexts and also examine if, and to what extent people should be condemned for using these words.
The use of the Spanish word “negro” (meaning black) as being offensive depends on its context, I think. In detail, in some areas of Latin America, including Uruguay, there are several connotations with the word “negro”. Firstly can it also be used as a descriptive noun (not only as an adjective), for example addressing a person having
black skin or even black hair, just like the words “güero” describing white or light-skinned persons or “morena” for brown are dark.;
Furthermore the word is also used in an inoffensive way to address relatives or friends. The Uruguayan phrase: "mira, ahi viene el negro" meaning “look, here comes the black one” refers only to a group of friends waiting for other friends /a friend and there is no negative connotation or racist undertone at all. In addition, there are also numerous famous people having “El Negro” as a nickname. There is for example Obdulio Varela,...