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Calling on Greek speaking brothers and sisters


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Morning Brothers and sister. So we recently adopted a pup. The name we agreed on as a family is "Mavro" because our pup is black in colour, and "Mavro" is the name of a dark coloured grape from Greece...plus we just love the name. 

 

What we just found out from a greek brother in our congregation who visited over the weekend is that "Mavro" can also be used as a derogatory term. I've also Googled the word and found quite a few companies registerred under this name. Don't think they would register a business under this name if it were derogatory. 

 

We don't want to offend unyone unnecessarily if this is the case. Please can any of our Greek speaking brothers and sister share their thoughts. Would really appreciate it. 

 

 

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I live in Australia, and my mum is Greek.  Mavro means black.  It is just a colour.  But, as you are in Sth Africa, I wonder if that is now a derogatory term to use because of the history of apartheid?  We used to have a black cat, and my mum called him Mavros.  It's like calling your cat "Blackie".

 

Hope that helps!

(for me, I don't think it's offensive at all)

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Thanks for the response. I think you might have a point. In South Africa it may have or is still being used as a derogitory term for a black person. Thing is, I have lived in South Africa all my life and never ever heard that term or word being used. Probably havnt grown up around any Greek speaking people. I think it might also depend on the context of its use. It's a tricky one..... 

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Ok, I see from this site that is can be also derogatory of blacks.  https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mavro

 

In saying that, if you named your cat "Blackie" is that going to be seen to be derogatory by others?  I mean, it's probably only the Greeks who see Mavros in a derogatory way to say blacks (and also marijuana, since they associate it with black people smoking joints).  But in other cultures, it is recognised as the Greek word for the colour black, which is the colour of your pup.

 

I too am dark-skinned.  I was called "Arapina" growing up, with affection not derogatory.  It means Arab or black woman/girl.  So, context is something to keep in mind.

A nice diminutive name, if you want for Mavro is Mavruko.  Little Blackie.

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I guess the point is : does "mavro" has the same derogative meaning as "n" can have in the US.

 

You can have many words for a color, but yeah... I would not call a pet "n" because it's dark. Blackie would be cute and fine.

So, yes, we need a native greek brother here.


Edited by hatcheckgirl

Removed offensive word
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6 hours ago, Dages said:

I would not call a pet "n" because it's dark

We wouldn't either, yet we did have a cat called Mavros.  So, it must be something that is probably more to do with how ones in South Africa would see this word.  It has both good and bad connotations. I too am interested in how other Greek speakers see this.


Edited by hatcheckgirl

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Thanks for all the responses. Looks like it might not only be seen as derogitory to South Africans alone. According to the link posted it says that MAVRO is also a racially disparaging and insensitive Greek word for African American. Might be safer to avoid calling our pup "Mavro. " it's a real shame though coz we really liked the name. But will wait for a few more comments.

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It's likely cultural.  Probably most Black people in the United States wouldn't even know what "mavro" meant.  But if Black people in S. Africa know, you'd be better off not using that name.

 

It's like how it's not considered derogatory in Hispanic cultures to refer to people as "mulata", "gordita", "negrita", etc... not unlike @hatcheckgirl referred to in her area.  But those are NOT terms of endearment in the English speaking United States.

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In regards to that offensive word for people of dark complexion in posts 5 & 6, may I please request deletion of that racial slur on JWTalk?  In this context, I believe there are alternative euphemisms that can be used to express one's point of view for that term. 

 


Edited by Omoyeme
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2 hours ago, Hope said:

It's likely cultural.

Not exactly. It’s how some people use it. Like I said, our Greek family named our cat the same word. And it certainly didn’t mean anything derogatory to the Greek speaking community we lived amongst. If you directed that word specifically to a person, it still has the connotation of a black person. How else can you describe someone of dark skin? That’s the word they use for “a black man” with no racial slur intended. 

 

But that’s here in Australia. If you did want to make a racial comment about the black skinned people here (be they Aboriginal or other national origin), then the context of using the word Mavro would tell you that’s derogatory. 

 

Persnally, it’s not a big deal. It’s just a descriptive name. I also had cats called Aspros and Coucno (white and red). 

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Agreed! Mavro as a word in not guilty of being derogitory, It's how you use it, or rather the target recipient. If I call my pup Mavro, or a company...for example "Mavro Consulting," there is nothing wrong in doing so. If it's aimed at a person, especially someone of a darker skin colour then that would be wrong. 

 

Thanks again for all the helpful comments. 

 

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Animals are often named as to their colour - like Ginger, snowy, inky and I would have no problem with the word Mavro just because it means 'black' - it the other word is used then it's international derogatory connotations immediately come to mind.

 

The name 'Melanie' - is from the Melanisian tribes meaning dark one ... should we not call someone Melanie either?

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6 minutes ago, LuGover17 said:

If it's aimed at a person, especially someone of a darker skin colour then that would be wrong. 

No, not exactly. I think the one possible negative use of the word has clouded this conversation. It is perfectly legitimate to use Mavro as describing a dark skinned person. That’s how you say it. Same as Arapina. It means dark skinned person. 

 

I do do understand that you want to be careful not to offend. Calling your dog Blackie is not offensive. Not to a Greek speaker anyway. 

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But, respectfully Uani - you have just said 'Black' people - which is no different to the word Mavro. Means exactly the same thing.

 

Colour and variation are a beautiful thing - it being referenced to a specific person or group of people to describe their beauty should never be offensive.

 

If it's used in a derogatory way then the story is way different. But its often used to describe beauty.

 

Ie: The story of Black Beauty - now that horse was extraordinary of nature but also of it's gorgeous black coat.

 

As Witnesses we don't see colour as in inferiority or something that makes another separate from us, but come on ... you put a pale white person in those African outfits - and they just don't shine like our African black brothers and sisters do.

 

 


Edited by Stormswift
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11 minutes ago, Stormswift said:

Animals are often named as to their colour - like Ginger, snowy, inky and I would have no problem with the word Mavro just because it means 'black' - it the other word is used then it's international derogatory connotations immediately come to mind.

 

The name 'Melanie' - is from the Melanisian tribes meaning dark one ... should we not call someone Melanie either?

I have a friend whose name is spelled exactly like that. 

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Mavro just means black. Black as in describing coal, or ebony, or a black person. Exactly the same as the English word "black" it's just a color, it doesn't have any positive or negative connotations.

 

Now if someone feels that being black is a bad thing, then they may find any word meaning black offensive. But if someone is offended by you calling your dog Blackie or Mavro, they are just looking for something to be offended about.

 

On the other hand, do you really have that many Greek speakers in South Africa? :)

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2 hours ago, Stormswift said:

But, respectfully Uani - you have just said 'Black' people - which is no different to the word Mavro. Means exactly the same thing.

 

Colour and variation are a beautiful thing - it being referenced to a specific person or group of people to describe their beauty should never be offensive.

 

If it's used in a derogatory way then the story is way different. But its often used to describe beauty.

 

Ie: The story of Black Beauty - now that horse was extraordinary of nature but also of it's gorgeous black coat.

 

As Witnesses we don't see colour as in inferiority or something that makes another separate from us, but come on ... you put a pale white person in those African outfits - and they just don't shine like our African black brothers and sisters do.

 

 

 

"Black" is an accepted word in the United States to refer to people of Sub-Saharan African heritage (you may be surprised to know that "African American" is not necessarily preferred over "Black" as a designation by Black people).  "Negro" is not acceptable at all, even though it simply means "black" in Spanish.... and even though it once was acceptable, 50 years ago.  It would not be a good idea to name one's dog "Negro".. even if from Latin heritage, if you are living in the States.  It's not about simply what the word "means".... it's what it stands for, if that makes sense.  "B*tch" is the proper term for a female dog, but you'd better never refer to a female human by that word.  Many are uncomfortable using it at all - even in reference to dogs.  The negative connotation is too strong in many cultures.

 

I did say earlier that it's unlikely many Black Americans would know what Mavro means under any circumstances.  The trick is if Greek speaking people think that it's being used to be derogatory to Black people.

 

I cannot speak to the culture of South Africa (or New Zealand).  Since Lewis is IN South Africa, he would be the best one to determine if anyone (black or white) would consider "mavro" offensive, I'd think.  Maybe when in doubt, do without?  *shrug*  It is sad that people in society will trip over words and what they *think* you mean... but we deal with people like how they are, right?  Not how they should be.  :( 

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2 minutes ago, Hope said:

 

"Black" is an accepted word in the United States to refer to people of Sub-Saharan African heritage (you may be surprised to know that "African American" is not necessarily preferred over "Black" as a designation by Black people).  "Negro" is not acceptable at all, even though it simply means "black" in Spanish.... and even though it once was acceptable, 50 years ago.  It would not be a good idea to name one's dog "Negro".. even if from Latin heritage, if you are living in the States.  It's not about simply what the word "means".... it's what it stands for, if that makes sense.  "B*tch" is the proper term for a female dog, but you'd better never refer to a female human by that word.  Many are uncomfortable using it at all - even in reference to dogs.  The negative connotation is too strong in many cultures.

 

I did say earlier that it's unlikely many Black Americans would know what Mavro means under any circumstances.  The trick is if Greek speaking people think that it's being used to be derogatory to Black people.

 

I cannot speak to the culture of South Africa (or New Zealand).  Since Lewis is IN South Africa, he would be the best one to determine if anyone (black or white) would consider "mavro" offensive, I'd think.  Maybe when in doubt, do without?  *shrug*  It is sad that people in society will trip over words and what they *think* you mean... but we deal with people like how they are, right?  Not how they should be.  :( 

Good post ... black is indeed accepted in US as it should be, as in many countries. All I was saying is Mavros is another word for black ... so that should be just as acceptable.


Edited by Stormswift
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I think he really needs a Greek speaker to explain it.  It is relevant that this has come up in South Africa.  In Australia, as I said, it would not be a problem.  In the USA, I reckon there would be a problem, because you have been deeply affected by racism.  In doing research about whether the word is derogatory or not, the sites that said it was were referring to the US.  Because racist Greeks have misappropriated the word for black as a colour and used it so.  But it still is a legitimate word, in fact the only word, for black, whether referring to a person or a dog.  It doesn't have to be offensive even when applied to a person.

 

I stand by what I've said.  It is primarily inoffensive.  Have a read of the definition and see for yourself.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/μαύρος

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3 hours ago, Stormswift said:

Good post ... black is indeed accepted in US as it should be, as in many countries. All I was saying is Mavros is another word for black ... so that should be just as acceptable.

...as is "negro"- perfectly normal Spanish word... but it is not acceptable as a racial designator or animal's name in the US.

 

It all depends on the hearer, really, and if there's a possibility of causing offence by the giver of that name.

 

To me, it's telling that Lewis even needs to ask if anyone would be offended by the name. Seems like it may be possible.. it's rarely a good idea to depend on someone's ignorance of a situation. What if he happens to meet a black person who was harrassed by that name? Can he tell him he shouldn't feel bad about it? 

 

Why not name the dog "Skýlos"? It means "dog" in Greek... and is just as obvious as calling a black dog "black". With maybe less chance of offence.  🤓

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8 hours ago, Hope said:

 

"Black" is an accepted word in the United States to refer to people of Sub-Saharan African heritage (you may be surprised to know that "African American" is not necessarily preferred over "Black" as a designation by Black people).  "Negro" is not acceptable at all, even though it simply means "black" in Spanish.... and even though it once was acceptable, 50 years ago.  It would not be a good idea to name one's dog "Negro".. even if from Latin heritage, if you are living in the States.  It's not about simply what the word "means".... it's what it stands for, if that makes sense.  "B*tch" is the proper term for a female dog, but you'd better never refer to a female human by that word.  Many are uncomfortable using it at all - even in reference to dogs.  The negative connotation is too strong in many cultures.

 

I did say earlier that it's unlikely many Black Americans would know what Mavro means under any circumstances.  The trick is if Greek speaking people think that it's being used to be derogatory to Black people.

 

I cannot speak to the culture of South Africa (or New Zealand).  Since Lewis is IN South Africa, he would be the best one to determine if anyone (black or white) would consider "mavro" offensive, I'd think.  Maybe when in doubt, do without?  *shrug*  It is sad that people in society will trip over words and what they *think* you mean... but we deal with people like how they are, right?  Not how they should be.  :( 

Awesome post....thanks.

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