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  #1  
Old 02-28-2009, 02:13 PM
information information is offline
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origin of coon as racial slur

baracoon is a spanish name for a place were the cubans kept slaves. coon for short is what the black slaves were called.
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  #2  
Old 02-28-2009, 06:26 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by information View Post
baracoon is a spanish name for a place were the cubans kept slaves. coon for short is what the black slaves were called.
Welcome to the boards, information. If you can possibly provide a link to column, it helps everyone to keep on the same page. It's as easy as copying and pasting the URL.
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...n-of-coons-age

Can you tell us where you got the information that "coon for short is what the black slaves were called?" This term goes back pretty far in English in the US. Any help here?
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Old 02-28-2009, 09:23 PM
SeanArenas SeanArenas is offline
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baracoon sounds close to Boriquan, which is the tribe of Native Americans that became the Puerto Ricans, or Taino. Just pointing it out cuz that's in the same area as the OP refers (near Cuba).
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Old 03-01-2009, 08:17 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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The word "baracoon" in Spanish means "hut." It was used for the sheds where slaves were kept before being transported. The word "baracoon" didn't come from the name "Boriquan." Whether "baracoon" is the source of the term "coon" is another question.
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Old 03-01-2009, 09:59 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The word "baracoon" in Spanish means "hut."
Try "barracón". (It's a cognate of "barracks", so it is not apparently related to "Boriquan".) "Barracoon" is an English borrowing of "barracón", possibly influenced by Dutch.

If, as the column says, "coon" in the racial sense first appeared in the 1850s, a Spanish origin is improbable.
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Old 03-02-2009, 06:10 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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Thanks, John W. Kennedy. I don't know Spanish, so I did a search on various spellings. The spellings "baracoon," "baracon," and "barracoon," seem to appear almost as much as "barracon" (and I don't even know how often the accent mark is placed on the letter "o"). Incidentally, why didn't you quote information's post rather than mine? He was the first one in this thread to use the incorrect spelling, so it would have made more sense to quote his post rather than mine.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:27 AM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Google is not a dictionary; "barracón" is the correct Spanish spelling, and "barracoon" is the correct English spelling.

And I replied to you because you were the first one to suggest that "baracoon" (sic.) is a native Spanish word, which immediately set off an alarm in my mind, just as though you had called "xebec", "borscht", or "axolotl" native English. So I looked it up.
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:41 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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I didn't say that Google was a dictionary.

I wasn't the first to say that "baracoon" was Spanish. information was the first.
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Old 03-02-2009, 06:28 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
I didn't say that Google was a dictionary.
You didn't have to. You used it as one.

Quote:
I wasn't the first to say that "baracoon" was Spanish. information was the first.
No, "Information" said that "baracoon is a spanish [sic] name for a place were the cubans [sic] kept slaves". That did not rule out the possibility that it was a native or African word used by the Spanish, and I am not an expert on Cuban colonial history. But you spoke of the word as part of the Spanish core vocabulary, which is obviously wrong to anyone who has so much as merely taken the time to parse "La via del tren subterraneo es peligrosa," so I looked it up.

None of this, unfortunately, addresses the issue at hand.
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Old 03-03-2009, 09:10 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy View Post
If, as the column says, "coon" in the racial sense first appeared in the 1850s, a Spanish origin is improbable.
Hey! I can make up an answer!

The 1850s were the smack in the prime of the minstrel show, in which white actors smeared their faces with black makeup and impersonated African-Americans. To accentuate the big-lipped and wide-eyed Funny Slave character, especially since theatrical lighting was almost as archaic as the jokes they told, white greasepaint circled the performers' eyes and mouths. The bulls-eye eyes reminded someone of a raccoon, and there you go.


1. This phony baloney explanation was manufactured on the spot, but if somebody wanted to spread it as fact I'd think it was really cool.

2. While pretending to research it I found the interesting factoid that, according to Moe Howard, Mantan Moreland, the bulgy-eyed, third funniest guy in the Three Stooges shorts, was considered for the role of Third Stooge after Shemp died. Since Moreland lived until 1973, we'd've been spared the depredations of both Joes.
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  #11  
Old 12-28-2012, 06:57 AM
fdturtle fdturtle is offline
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Dropzone,

That answer isn't so far off from what I was looking at today. I have a friend from Capetown, South Africa who recently used the word "coon" in a post. When I asked her about it, she told me about the "Coon Festival" that happens there every year. And take a guess as to what is commonly used as part of the dress? That's right! Black people paint there faces with white paint! lol!

So, here's my theory.....what if the term "coon" is directly based on slavery (which is pretty standard) based on several factors......

White slavers saw this costume, took the slaves to Cuba where they were housed in the "baracoons"?....just a thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coon_Carnival
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  #12  
Old 12-28-2012, 08:23 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is offline
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Dex's date is off in his column.

Quote:
coon (n)
The insulting U.S. meaning "black person" was in use by 1837, said to be ultimately from Portuguese barracoos "building constructed to hold slaves for sale." No doubt boosted by the enormously popular blackface minstrel act "Zip Coon" (George Washington Dixon) which debuted in New York City in 1834. But it is perhaps older (one of the lead characters in the 1767 colonial comic opera "The Disappointment" is a black man named Raccoon). Coon's age is 1843, American English, probably an alteration of British a crow's age.
LeRoy Ashby, in his monumental With Amusement for All, talks about the origin of Zip Coon on p19.

Quote:
In 1834, Geore Washington Dixon, whose song "Coal Black Rose" had already turned him into a blackface star, introduced Zip Coon - "Zip" serving as the abbreviated version of "Scipio," [Skippy-oh] then a common African American name. Whereas the shuffling, ragamuffin Jim Crow was the caricature of a slave, Zip Coon personified a Northern urban dandy, a swaggering parody of fashion and pretense. ... the blackface creations provided the society weak with symbolic power [poking ] fun at foppish urban gentlemen and [celebrating] common folks' wisdom over the formal education of the elites...
Ashby notes that popular real figures like Davy Crockett and Mike Fink were linked to Zip Coon, and the song featured a presidential ticket of Coon and Crockett, so that class struggle more than race was the intended target. It was an early - possibly the earliest - example of young alienated whites appropriating black culture as a way of symbolizing their outsider status in the establishment world.

Coon therefore already meant black long before blackface. But Dixon's character lifted the term into everyday usage, where it became soured and distorted into an epithet.

Another example of why folk etymologies drive historians, people who actually know something about real history, crazy.
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