Sunday, October 4, 2015

Invidious Adjectives

I have often referred to this page of Donald Horowitz's book but via the miracles of (p. 169 of his book) and PDF making, I can produce my favorite list of adjectives:

The idea here is that groups that are seen as relatively backwards (economically/socially) are given the same adjectives around the world, and groups that are seen as advanced relatiively are given the same adjectives around the world.  The chapter, entitled the Logic of Invidious Comparison, builds on social psychology and documents how the same words are used to describe Jews in the US and now Asians, definitely Koreans in Los Angeles, East Indians in Africa, Chinese in Southeast Asia, etc, etc.

The basic idea here is that these dynamics, the logic of invidious comparison, are universal.  And so when friends tweet about Asians facing quotas at Ivy League schools and how they are the new Jews, I have to think of this stuff.

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