The Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani is in mierda profunda, as they may or may not say in his native Uruguay.
Responding to a tweet from a friend congratulating him on a cracking match, Cavani wrote back, saying: “Gracias negrito”. Now, the first word, meaning ‘thank you’, passes muster, just. But the second, meaning ‘little black’ and sounding suspiciously like ‘negro’, will earn the bigoted foreigner a three-match ban, if he’s lucky.
Personally, if Cavani indeed has racist tendencies, I’d ban him for life and pass the case on to the CPO to see if there is enough corpus delicti for them to prosecute. But then I tend to be too extreme in defending the right of our woke modernity to put its foot down.
Still, it’s good to see that those arrivals from iffy lands inhabited by funny-sounding foreigners can’t pull a fast one on our vigilant Football Association. The bureaucrats running it are polyglots to a man, alive to fine nuances in every one of the 6,500 languages used – and abused! – in the world today.
However, this may be one of those negligibly few instances when their precisely attuned antennae caught the wrong signal. Here I can cite my own, albeit vicarious, experience with the Uruguayan people, especially both of them who happen to be pianists.
Many years ago, I lived with the ex-wife of one Uruguayan pianist, whereas my wife Penelope had been married to the other before she experienced the Damascene epiphany in my sturdy shape. Both women, especially Penelope, who still speaks fluent Spanish, often referred to the fine points of River Plate slang, a lexical layer in which the words negro and negrito (or the feminine negra and negrita) figure prominently.
These words are desemanticised terms of endearment used to describe persons of any race whatsoever. Penelope, for example, is impeccably, these days I’d say offensively, white – and yet her former mother-in-law used to call her negrita. Not a single drop of tar was thereby implied.
(Penelope reassures me that, though one of her ancestors was a bishop of Lagos, in those Victorian days that post was invariably held by Englishmen.)
Thus the proper translation of Cavani’s tweet would have been “thank you, mate”, but that’s not the point, is it? The striker can insist till he’s blue in the face that his own mother and siblings routinely call him negrito, even though, literally speaking, he isn’t. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still at fault.
Having claimed sovereign rights over English usage, our woke bureaucrats are commendably expanding their authority to cover words that, though innocuous in their native habitat, sound offensive in English. If they don’t police all that foreign gobbledegook, the natives may well be remiss in their duty to enforce propriety.
In Victorian times, when Penelope’s ancestor was a bishop of Lagos, this was called ‘liberal interventionism’. Since nowadays ‘liberal’ and ‘woke’ are synonyms, we have a licence from the God of Political Correctness to enforce woke interventionism.
If those natives know what’s good for them, they should leave those assegais in their quivers and come along without trouble, like. Especially if they choose to ply their trade in the country of woke interventionists who are sensitive not only to semantics but also to homophones. And homophobes, come to think of that.
A message to my Russian friends: think twice before you use the word negr to describe a person of Afro-Caribbean descent in Britain. Yes, you may argue that in your language this word is semantically neutral and carries no pejorative implications whatsoever.
But if you do come up with such specious arguments, I have only one word to say to you: Cavani. Get it, you racist swine?
P.S. While we’re at it, I insist that both the River Niger and the country Nigeria be renamed in line with the new morality. May I suggest River Woke and Wokeria?