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Old 05-13-2004, 12:10 AM
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Two questions about swarthy skin

1) Does it occur on its own, or is it only a result of the mixing of light and dark skinned people? For example, the Spaniards are said to be swarthy because of the Moorish invasion. What about the people of other Mediterranean or Southern European countries, or even Middle Easterners? For example, are olive complexioned Italians and Greeks naturally that way, or are they also a result of mixed blood?

2) How dark, or what shade does skin have to be to be considered swarthy? For example, watching a little something on, I think it was either A&E or the Biography Channel, it talked about John Stamos (who's Greek) and made some comment about his swarthy skin. Now, up to that point, I never noticed it being, even slightly dark. When they showed a Full House clip with him next to Dave Coulier, I paid attention and only noticed a very slight difference in skin tone. Or in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when Toula is talking about her childhood, and not fitting in with the other children because of her dark hair, dark eyes, and swarthy skin, I couldn't tell a difference in skin color between her and the other girls. Or even as an adult, when she was with non olive complexioned people, I could never tell a difference between her skin color or theirs.
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Old 05-13-2004, 12:14 AM
Atticus Finch Atticus Finch is offline
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"Swarthy"? Which century are you living in?
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Old 05-13-2004, 06:43 AM
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Sorry, didn't know it was outdated.
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Old 05-13-2004, 06:53 AM
Evil Captor Evil Captor is online now
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Well, let's not get on Master Control's case here. "Swarthy" is a term once used by bigots to describe anyone who didn't have that Teutonic pale fair skin so beloved of white racists everywhere. But it's been out of circulation for so long that it's reasonable that someone could pick up on it without being aware of its racist overtomes.

IIRC swarthy referred to ALL dark-skinned people who weren't black. Chinamen, Indians, American Indians, you name it -- they were all "swarthy" as well as the southern European types. Hell, the skin on my forearms is probably darker than a lot of "swarthy" people's and I'm straight up Scotch Irish on both sides of my family tree. So it wasn't a very meaningful term.

And let's not hear any wiseass coments about the Irish.
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Old 05-13-2004, 07:19 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lambchops
"Swarthy"? Which century are you living in?
The OP did cite a number of recent uses. I think that makes the question valid.

I don't know how to answer the question in detail, but I believe that Spaniards and Italians have mixed a lot with North African/Arab peoples. And Greeks have mixed a lot with Turkish peoples. (Modern Greeks are actually a branch of the Slavic peoples although their language is descendent from the Ancient Greeks.)
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Old 05-13-2004, 10:17 AM
tremorviolet tremorviolet is offline
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Mmmmmmm, swarthy... I always liked the word, it makes me think of pirates. Is it really considered offensive?
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Old 05-13-2004, 10:43 AM
Maus Magill Maus Magill is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tremorviolet
Mmmmmmm, swarthy... I always liked the word, it makes me think of pirates. Is it really considered offensive?
I don't consider it offensive, and I'm called swarthy by my wife.

I'm not sure if it refers to absolute skin tone, however. If you note, most people who are considered swarthy have dark hair, and a lot of it.

From a very limited example (me) I can tell you swarthy men have very dark hair, tan easily, and get a 5 o'clock shadow at two o'clock. I can also tell you that swarthy men come from a northern european heritage and marry fair skinned and haired italian women.

Oh, by the way, "Arrrrrgggghhhhhh."
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Old 05-13-2004, 06:09 PM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Granted, it's not particularly offensive nowadays, but the only recent usage I can remember is in relation to racial profiling. That and police reports...
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Old 05-13-2004, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil Captor
Well, let's not get on Master Control's case here. "Swarthy" is a term once used by bigots to describe anyone who didn't have that Teutonic pale fair skin so beloved of white racists everywhere. But it's been out of circulation for so long that it's reasonable that someone could pick up on it without being aware of its racist overtomes.
Thank you. Actually, I wouldn't say I "picked it up," I've just always heard it used as a synonym for olive complexioned and didn't realize that it had a racist connotation.

Quote:
IIRC swarthy referred to ALL dark-skinned people who weren't black. Chinamen, Indians, American Indians, you name it -- they were all "swarthy" as well as the southern European types. Hell, the skin on my forearms is probably darker than a lot of "swarthy" people's and I'm straight up Scotch Irish on both sides of my family tree. So it wasn't a very meaningful term.

And let's not hear any wiseass coments about the Irish.
I wasn't aware of that. I thought that swarthy was limited to Mediterranean, Southern European, and Middle Eastern people.
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Old 05-13-2004, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray
I don't know how to answer the question in detail, but I believe that Spaniards and Italians have mixed a lot with North African/Arab peoples. And Greeks have mixed a lot with Turkish peoples. (Modern Greeks are actually a branch of the Slavic peoples although their language is descendent from the Ancient Greeks.)
So what happened to the Ancient Greeks?
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Old 05-14-2004, 05:19 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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You're talking about caucasians in America, when everyone wears the same clothing, and spends the same amount of time in the sun. Everyone has a suntan to some degree.

It was very different when you were comparing an English, Victorian lady who never went outdoors without a hat, gloves and a parasol or her husband who always wore long sleeves, gloves and a brimmed hat with a Spanish or Italian couple who spent more time in the sun and dressed more appropriately for their climate.

If you've spent enough time on European beaches you'll see that given enough sun and sun oil, the average Swede or Dane can tan as darkly as the average Italian or Spaniard.
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Old 05-14-2004, 11:36 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master Control
So what happened to the Ancient Greeks?
Overrun, in part. Most ( virtually all, with the exception of a few strongpoints like Thessalonika ) of the Greek mainland was lost to Slavic tribes in the waning years of the East Roman empire/early years of the Byzantine empire, in some areas for many generations. Many large islands like Crete, Cyprus and Rhodes were lost to the Arabs for a time. The Greek-speakers weren't slaughtered to the man or anything, but on the mainland they were submerged in a Slavic sea. The modern day inhabitants are a mixture of Slavs, the original Greeks, Latin-speakers akin to the modern Roumanians, Greek-speakers ( of sundry origins, including descendents of old Ionian Greeks, but also many hellenized populations from Asia Minor ) re-imported by the Byzantines when they were laboriously re-hellenizing the area after reconquering it, some Turks from the Ottoman days, etc.

But then all folks are mongrels of one sort or another.

As to swarthy skin - some perhaps is from admixture, but I imagine a lot of it is just the climate. It's farther south and sunnier for longer periods of time = darker skin. Likely if you went back multiple thousands of years everyone on the Mediterranean would still look fairly similar all around the basin.

- Tamerlane
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Old 05-14-2004, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
You're talking about caucasians in America, when everyone wears the same clothing, and spends the same amount of time in the sun. Everyone has a suntan to some degree.

It was very different when you were comparing an English, Victorian lady who never went outdoors without a hat, gloves and a parasol or her husband who always wore long sleeves, gloves and a brimmed hat with a Spanish or Italian couple who spent more time in the sun and dressed more appropriately for their climate.

If you've spent enough time on European beaches you'll see that given enough sun and sun oil, the average Swede or Dane can tan as darkly as the average Italian or Spaniard.
I've heard that fairer skinned people have a harder time tanning than naturally darker people. For example, from This site
Quote:
However, some northwest Europeans have lost the ability to tan as a result of relaxed natural selection. Their skin burns and peels rather than tans. They are at a distinct disadvantage in tropical and subtropical environments. Not only do they suffer the discomfort of readily burning, but they are at a much higher risk for skin cancer.
Also, as for a personal example, I'm pretty darn white. I don't have a main heritage, I'm pretty much a mutt. I'm descended from French, Scottish, Irish, English, and Dutch. There's probably more that I'm unaware of, but I'm mainly descended from Northern European countries. The only tan parts of me are my arms because of all times I've spent outdoors in short sleave shirts.. Compared to the rest of my body, they're noticeably darker, but compared to most other people, they're fairly pail. When I spend time out in the sun, which isn't often, because I can't stand hot weather very well, I burn, but I never really tan. although lately, I 've been wishing that I could. Meanwhile, I have coworker who's half Mestizo who seems to tan pretty darn quickly.
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Old 05-14-2004, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane
Overrun, in part. Most ( virtually all, with the exception of a few strongpoints like Thessalonika ) of the Greek mainland was lost to Slavic tribes in the waning years of the East Roman empire/early years of the Byzantine empire, in some areas for many generations. Many large islands like Crete, Cyprus and Rhodes were lost to the Arabs for a time. The Greek-speakers weren't slaughtered to the man or anything, but on the mainland they were submerged in a Slavic sea. The modern day inhabitants are a mixture of Slavs, the original Greeks, Latin-speakers akin to the modern Roumanians, Greek-speakers ( of sundry origins, including descendents of old Ionian Greeks, but also many hellenized populations from Asia Minor ) re-imported by the Byzantines when they were laboriously re-hellenizing the area after reconquering it, some Turks from the Ottoman days, etc.
Thanks for the history lesson

Quote:
But then all folks are mongrels of one sort or another.
That's so true.

Quote:
As to swarthy skin - some perhaps is from admixture, but I imagine a lot of it is just the climate. It's farther south and sunnier for longer periods of time = darker skin. Likely if you went back multiple thousands of years everyone on the Mediterranean would still look fairly similar all around the basin.

- Tamerlane
Makes sence. Thanks.
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