Category Archives: epithets (vulgar)

The language of stevedores

Insults these days, writes Dalrymple,

tend to be crude and vulgar. Ours is not an age of subtlety, however technically sophisticated it may be. We prefer the elephantine to the feline.

When Donald Trump

reputedly called certain countries by an epithet that I shall not repeat, he was only employing the type of language that, to my regret, is now in very common use even among intellectuals.

Dalrymple says that

we seem either to go in for the false delicacy of political correctness, speaking as if some words were as injurious law-hammers brought down on the skull, or employ the language of stevedores or of building workers.

The brutish Donald Trump

It is, writes Dalrymple,

true that Haiti is in many respects a terrible place, which is why so many people want to leave it. Yet it pained me to hear of it spoken of in such terms, because there is so much more to it than the vulgar epithet suggests. The history of Haiti is a moving one, the people valiant and their culture of enormous interest. I have been only twice, but it exerts a hold on the imagination that can never be released. The tragedy and glory of the country are mixed, and symbolise the tragedy and glory of human life.

If Dalrymple were a Haitian who had fled Haiti in search of a better and much easier life, he

should nevertheless not have been pleased to hear it spoken of in this dismissive way, indeed I would have been hurt by it. I do not presume to know how familiar Mr Trump is with Haitian history, culture, and so forth, although I have my suspicions; and of course he has principally to consider the interests of the United States and Americans, not those of Haiti and Haitians. But what he said was not witty or wise, it was hurtful and insulting. I cannot see the giving of offence by the mere employment of crude and vulgar language as anything but a vice, and it is difficult to say whether it is worse if the person employing it knows or does not know what he is doing. If he knows, he cannot care; and if he does not know, he is a something of a brute.