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Thu Nov 29, 2018, 10:51 AM

Survivor...I know, shouldnt watch, but I do.

Last night show, Kara, blonde realtor, said to the BLACK player Carl "a spade is a spade" when referring to something he did in the game.

Racist? Nobody said a word, nothing on social media.


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Response to Eliot Rosewater (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 11:19 AM

1. I saw that!!

I thought it was odd that they didn’t edit it out. Likely does not bode well for her story arc....

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Response to Eliot Rosewater (Original post)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 11:24 AM

2. I never thought of this expression as a racial slur. To me it always meant, tell it like it is.

I always thought it meant the playing card, and when shown, such as in a poker hand, there is no denying it, a spade is a spade. However actually it meant call a spade (shovel) a spade, not a gardening tool.

So I did just a tad of research. The phrase has been around for eons and for the most part means, and has meant just what I thought it meant. However in the early 20th century the word spade was used pejoratively to refer to Black men. So yes, there is a racial component.

I, to the best of my knowledge, have never used the phrase in any context. Had I been there, I too probably would not have commented, as I did not know the etymology of the word/phrase. That may make me ignorant, but not racist. I'd like to think the same of the survivors there.

Oh, and there is nothing wrong with watching Survivor. We all have our guilty pleasures, and I enjoy the show.

Is It Racist To 'Call A Spade A Spade'?
September 23, 201310:33 AM ET

What happens when a perfectly innocuous phrase takes on a more sinister meaning over time?

Case in point, the expression "to call a spade a spade." For almost half a millennium, the phrase has served as a demand to "tell it like it is." It is only in the past century that the phrase began to acquire a negative, racial overtone.

Historians trace the origins of the expression to the Greek phrase "to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough." Exactly who was the first author of "to call a trough a trough" is lost to history. Some attribute it to Aristophanes, while others attribute it to the playwright Menander. The Greek historian Plutarch (who died in A.D. 120) used it in Moralia. The blogger Matt Colvin, who has a Ph.D. in Greek literature, recently pointed out that the original Greek expression was very likely vulgar in nature and that the "figs" and "troughs" in question were double entendres.

Erasmus, the renowned humanist and classical scholar, translated the phrase "to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough" from Greek to Latin. And in so doing he dramatically changed the phrase to "call a spade a spade." (This may have been an incorrect translation but seems more likely to have been a creative interpretation and a deliberate choice.) "Spade" stuck because of Erasmus' considerable influence in European intellectual circles, writes the University of Vermont's Wolfgang Mieder in his 2002 case study Call a Spade a Spade: From Classical Phrase to Racial Slur.


So what does all of this mean for people who want to, well, "call a spade a spade"? I urge caution. Mieder concludes his case study with the argument that "to call a spade a spade" should be retired from modern usage: "Rather than taking the chance of unintentionally offending someone or of being misunderstood, it is best to relinquish the old innocuous proverbial expression all together."


Call a spade a spade

To "call a spade a spade" is a figurative expression. It is also referred to as "let's call a spade a spade, not a gardening tool" which refers to calling something "as it is",[1] that is, by its right or proper name, without "beating about the bush"—being outspoken about it, truthfully, frankly, and directly, even to the point of being blunt or rude, and even if the subject is considered coarse, impolite, or unpleasant. The idiom originates in the classical Greek of Plutarch's Apophthegmata Laconica, and was introduced into the English language in 1542 in Nicolas Udall's translation of the Apophthegmes, where Erasmus had seemingly replaced Plutarch's images of "trough" and "fig" with the more familiar "spade." The idiom has appeared in many literary and popular works, including those of Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, W. Somerset Maugham, and Jonathan Swift.


Full definition
To 'call a spade a spade', or, 'to call a spade a shovel' are both forms of the figurative expression which requests that the speaker should, or has, called a person, place or thing, by the most suitable name it could have without any reservation to the feelings or strained formalities that may result from its use.[1] [2][3] The implication is that one tells the truth regarding the nature of the thing in question,[4] speaking frankly and directly about it[2][3], even if it is considered coarse, impolite, or unpleasant.[4][2][3] Brewer defined it in 1913 as being "outspoken, blunt, even to the point of rudeness", adding that it implies one's calling "things by their proper names without any 'beating about the bush'".[5]


Brewer includes the expression in his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable in 1913,[5] providing a definition largely consistent with contemporary English usage in the early 21st century.[4][2][3] The Oxford English Dictionary records a forceful, obscene variant, "to call a spade a bloody shovel", attested since 1919.[12]

The phrase appeared in Joseph Devlin's book How to Speak and Write Correctly (1910), where he satirized speakers who chose their words to show superiority: "For instance, you may not want to call a spade a spade. You may prefer to call it a spatulous device for abrading the surface of the soil. Better, however, to stick to the old familiar, simple name that your grandfather called it."[13]

Oscar Wilde uses the phrase in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), when the character Lord Henry Wotton remarks: "It is a sad truth, but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for." [14] Wilde uses it again in The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).[15] Other authors who have used it in their works include Charles Dickens and W. Somerset Maugham.[9]


As perceived slur
The phrase predates the use of the word "spade" as an ethnic slur against African Americans,[9] which was not recorded until 1928; however, in contemporary U.S. society, the idiom is often avoided due to potential confusion with the slur.[16]


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Response to Fla Dem (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 02:30 PM

3. I agree. Calling someone a spade is a slur, using the expression a spade a spade is not a slur.

That said, I would discontinue using that term to avoid any confusion.

See also the word niggardly.

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Response to FSogol (Reply #3)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:19 PM

4. If a POC thinks it is a slur, it is.

More importantly is the motive of her saying it, she was really mad at the guy.

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Response to Eliot Rosewater (Reply #4)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:24 PM

5. If a POC thinks "hello" is a racial slur, does it become one?

Lindsay Johns of The Root agrees with my take:


PS. Never saw the show, so I can't judge intent.

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Response to FSogol (Reply #5)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:26 PM

6. I dont spend my energy finding one POC who will support my position. If a POC considers it a slur,

it is.

Your attempt to demean my point aside.

Not being black, I tend to let them tell me what that is all about and what I never do is go on a search to find ONE POC who supports my position.

I look at the community at a whole and listen to what they say.

Ask Sly Stone why he became enraged when Peter Marshall said it to him on the Mike Douglas show


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Response to Eliot Rosewater (Reply #6)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:33 PM

7. Sorry, but your point is ridiculous. I did say that I personally would avoid using the term to avoid

offense. Here's what 1 community at a whole had to say about it:

“Call a spade a spade”: For more than 500 years, this expression has meant “to tell it like it is.” But it wasn’t until the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s that “spade” became a disparaging code word for black people. It’s probably best to retire this phrase forever.


As said earlier, I agree.

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Response to FSogol (Reply #7)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:35 PM

8. I am against using the phrase but I am ridiculous?

Or are you saying it is ridiculous that I am making the allegation that black people consider it offensive?

Surely you know many do or certainly did in the past.

I dont like to be ridiculous, so if you will show me or Sly Stone where the ridiculous is we can discuss.

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Response to Eliot Rosewater (Reply #8)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:37 PM

9. This is what is ridiculous: If X thinks Y, then Y must be true.

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Response to FSogol (Reply #9)

Thu Nov 29, 2018, 03:40 PM

10. Oh, so if a gay person thinks someone using the "F" word is offensive, that is ridiculous?

Nobody takes offense to being called hello, dont bother with that silliness.

The phrase was known to be offensive and that is that.

And yes, if someone takes offense to something and they are in a certain minority the VAST majority of the time they have a right to that offense. As in there will be a reason it is offensive.

on the RARE occasion someone takes offense to something silly, then we can talk...

I am the wrong person to be having this conversation, but the conversation is sorely needed.

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