Are regional nicknames offensive now?

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Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by mvlow »

I recently got into a debate with a man in his 20's on Facebook who was a relative of a friend of mine and was from Scotland. He got most offended when I referred to him by the nickname "Jock" which I thought was a term of endearment for someone from Scotland. He called me racist and all kinds of other names.

I have a serious question as I am now part of the older generation and am having a hard time keeping up with the never ending changes we are supposed to know. Having served in the Royal Marines many many moons ago, we used to refer to other marines from various regions of the UK by nicknames, and they were not deemed as offensive. For example, Taff for Wales, Brummie for Birmingham, Scouse for Liverpool, Janner for the Southwest, Jock for Scotland etc. I have friends from my time in the RM and we still refer to each other in that way.

I know a lot of things have changed in the way we are expected to interact with people, but I had no idea this was now offensive. I guess my question is whether these terms nowadays are really offensive, or was this particular young man being way too sensitive?
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by BobMunro »

mvlow wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 4:59 pm I recently got into a debate with a man in his 20's on Facebook who was a relative of a friend of mine and was from Scotland. He got most offended when I referred to him by the nickname "Jock" which I thought was a term of endearment for someone from Scotland. He called me racist and all kinds of other names.

I have a serious question as I am now part of the older generation and am having a hard time keeping up with the never ending changes we are supposed to know. Having served in the Royal Marines many many moons ago, we used to refer to other marines from various regions of the UK by nicknames, and they were not deemed as offensive. For example, Taff for Wales, Brummie for Birmingham, Scouse for Liverpool, Janner for the Southwest, Jock for Scotland etc. I have friends from my time in the RM and we still refer to each other in that way.

I know a lot of things have changed in the way we are expected to interact with people, but I had no idea this was now offensive. I guess my question is whether these terms nowadays are really offensive, or was this particular young man being way too sensitive?
If someone from Scotland doesn't like being referred to by a collective slang word 'Jock' then that's fine - some will, some won't be offended - it's their prerogative. Scottish, Welsh or Irish is appropriate in all situations and Jock, Taff or Paddy may be if you know for a fact that the person on the receiving end is fine with it (friends you served with for example).

It's not that long ago when the C, P and N words were used to describe people from China, South Asia and Afro/Caribbean heritage.

Edit: The Mods may view this as an inappropriate discussion on a watch Forum and that's absolutely fine with me - happy for my post to be deleted.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

Grey area, I think. The words used above in reference to Scots, Welsh and Irish people are examples of “national” epithets referring to constituent countries of the United Kingdom, or in the case of Ireland part of the British Isles. I think we have to accept that if the people themselves don’t think it’s appropriate, then it isn’t appropriate. I wouldn’t use those terms myself these days, any more than I would use the old terms we used to bandy about for French, German, Italian, Spanish people and so on.

Casting the net wider, I’m not sure how the Americans feel about being called Yanks; I sense that Canadians are generally happy with Canucks, Australians with Aussies and New Zealanders with Kiwis. But I’m happy to be corrected.

Within England, people often refer to themselves as Brummies or Geordies, for example, so that may well be acceptable. But it is city or locality based rather than a national epithet.

As I said, grey area. My take would be: if in doubt, don’t.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by mvlow »

BobMunro wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:08 pm
Edit: The Mods may view this as an inappropriate discussion on a watch Forum and that's absolutely fine with me - happy for my post to be deleted.
I posted it in the "off topic" portion of the forum for that very reason, where a lot of non watch related discussions take place.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by welshlad »

There are no hard and fast rules about what nicknames/terms are offensive (although some are more clear-cut). It depends on the recipient (and context), as offence is taken, not given. If the person you are calling "Jock" finds it offensive, then it is by definition offensive to them, regardless of your view or intention. Now, whether you care that they find it offensive is another matter. But if you do care about the person, then it would probably be best to not use that nickname with them anymore. But that doesn't mean that you couldn't use it with other Scots - it depends on the individual.

Just my thoughts.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by nbg »

Malcolm I think that you will receive different answers from different demographics and will find some Scots that find it offensive, together with a quota of non Scots who will find it offensive on their behalf.

Jock was often used as an alternative for John and perhaps calling someone Jock, who isn’t John is an assumption that all Scots are called John.

My father-in-law is a Scot and has never been offended by anyone calling him Jock, although his actual name is John. My mother-in-law calls him Iain.

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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by Amor Vincit Omnia »

mvlow wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:24 pm
BobMunro wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:08 pm
Edit: The Mods may view this as an inappropriate discussion on a watch Forum and that's absolutely fine with me - happy for my post to be deleted.
I posted it in the "off topic" portion of the forum for that very reason, where a lot of non watch related discussions take place.
And as two of the Admin Team have now replied, you may assume that it’s acceptable to discuss provided it is done in a sensitive and responsible way. Should anyone decide to start being silly or offensive, then we might have to think again.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by welshlad »

nbg wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:31 pm My mother-in-law calls him Iain.
Now that IS offensive. ;) :escape:
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by iain »

welshlad wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:34 pm
nbg wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:31 pm My mother-in-law calls him Iain.
Now that IS offensive. ;) :escape:
I’m not sure whether to be offended or not :lol: :lol:
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by nbg »

welshlad wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:34 pm
nbg wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:31 pm My mother-in-law calls him Iain.
Now that IS offensive. ;) :escape:
It took me a while to work out why!

I hadn’t realised that Iain is the Gaelic version of John :)

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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by mvlow »

There are some great replies so far. When debating this young man I was not intending to offend him by calling him Jock. Had I known it was offensive to him I would not have used the term in the first place. My reaction to his being offended was initially bewilderment as I had no idea the term was offensive.

It might have something to do with the fact I have lived in the USA for the past four decades and have lost touch with such things in the UK, even though I do visit family there. Compounding my confusion was the fact that I still have many friends from my time in the Marines that I regularly correspond with on forums such as Facebook, and they all still use these nicknames with each other.

Going forward, I will only use these nicknames with people I already know appreciate them and try to avoid using them with people that might find them offensive. This old dog can still learn a few new tricks :)
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by missF »

The only reason I’d take offence at being called Jock is because Will Carling used to use it - also Jockland - and he WAS patronising and offensive about Scotland in general... :lol:


For better or worse, young people are far more acutely sensitive to offence than I was growing up. Any term that ‘others’ someone is often deemed offensive. In my opinion, that - in general- is a good thing. But the intensity and sometimes vehemence that offence is now taken in this way, and the fact that the offended person ends up ‘othering’ but in a very different way (the offender is called all sorts of names that put them right outside of civilised society) is not healthy imo.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by ajax87 »

Amor Vincit Omnia wrote: Wed Aug 09, 2023 5:23 pm Casting the net wider, I’m not sure how the Americans feel about being called Yanks...
It's all about the meaning/context. I've seen instances of Americans being called Yanks/Yankees and it was 100% meant as an insult. If it's just used as a replacement word for American in general with no negative meaning, I can't see anyone being offended by it. Unless it's a Southerner. They'll still probably let it slide if it's coming from a foreigner though lol.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by jkbarnes »

I think the safe answer to the question is that context is everything - how it’s used, who’s using it, who it’s being used on, relationship between said people, etc. I always err on the side of caution in circumstances like this.

I taught with a guy from Appalachian country. He was the walking, talking embodiment of the Appalachian, hillbilly stereotype…and also the exact opposite of the stereotype in every way that matters. I could get away with calling him a hillbilly because of our relationship. But it is more or less an offensive term regardless. I said it in jest and to draw attention to how he was the opposite of the stereotype.

Being called a Yank by a Brit (is that offensive?), not offensive. Being called a Yankee by a southerner is almost always intended to be an insult. Redneck or hillbilly for a southerner, always meant as an insult.

@missF makes an excellent point about if use is intended to “other” somebody, if you’ll allow me to use that word as a verb.
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Re: Are regional nicknames offensive now?

Post by Timishere »

For what it's worth, I work with many of the younger generation and it definitely wouldn't be ok to use those terms. Not passing any judgement on if they are correct to feel that way, but trying to answer your question! Best avoided.