Re: Amerind an offensive term (was: Early Amerind assimilation

Stephen Barnard (
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 16:55:40 -0800

Matt Silberstein wrote:
> In sci.archaeology Stephen Barnard <> wrote:
> >Matt Silberstein wrote:
> >>
> >> Stephen Barnard <> wrote:
> >>
> >> >-Mayo,H.H. wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> According to the most recent Federal survey, that term is "Indian"
> >> >> by a large majority.
> >> >>
> >> >> Larry Mayo
> >>
> >> >Does that survey include the 930 million people who live in India, some
> >> >of whom I'm sure are reading this newsgroup?
> >>
> >> The vast majority who don't read or speak English. I have a question
> >> though. Do they call themselves Indians? And did they before the
> >> English/French came?
> >English is very common in India. I believe that it's the "official"
> >language, in the sense that official government business is conducted in
> >English. I wouldn't be at all surpised if there were more English
> >speakers in India than in England.
> >I'm pretty sure that they (Indian Indians, that is) do call themselves
> >Indians, at least when they're speaking English.
> I am sure that there are more English speakers in India than England.
> There could be as many as in the U.S. and it would still be a minority
> language (though a sizeable one). I am asking if
> 1) Does the word they use sound like "India" (I assume not Indian,
> which is an English contruct).
> 2) Did they use the same word before conquest?
> I ask question 1 for a specific reason. Several years ago the junta in
> Burma changed the name (to something begining with an 'M'). Well it
> turns out that they did not change the name, they just changed the
> spelling. Both names have the same sound.
> --------------------
> What is the scariest line you know? How about:
> "My name is Number 6, what's yours?"

I posted a request for information about these points to soc.culture.indian,
and I received about 5 or 6 replies.

Asian Indians do in fact use the term "Indian" to refer to themselves when
speaking English. One respondent, who seems to know what he was talking
about, estimated that at least 150-200 million Indians speak English.

Quoting from the same source:

"People in India call themselves Indians, Bharati (for people of Bharat), Desi
( a colloquial term) and Hindustani (People from Hindustan). I am sure there
are other such names that are used.

"The word India comes from the historical association of the people from
around the Indus river. The Indus river used be one of the larger rivers in
the subcontinent and the lifestream of then society. The settlers around the
river were the Hindus of the Indus plato. The greeks were probably the first
westerners who changed either Sindhu or Hindu to Indus for the westerners and
in the western history it has since been scribed as Indus."

It's me (Steve Barnard) again.

For the most part, the respondents were not not offended that the term
"Indian" is used to refer to Native Americans, but they thought it was odd and
confusing. One respondent did find it offensive, but I suppose you'll always
find *someone* who finds something offensive.

A few people have questioned my motives in starting this thread. Well, tough.
I'm not anti-Native-American. I *do* happen to find the hypersensitivity of
some ethnic groups to nomenclature to be unfortunate. Can you believe that
some white-bread Midwesterners actually think that "Jew" is an offensive term,
and that you should say "Jewish person" instead? On the whole, I found the
attitude of the Asian Indian respondents to be refreshingly tolerant.

Steve Barnard