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From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse MeadowHow Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame$
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Mark Monmonier

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226534657

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226534640.001.0001

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Purging Pejoratives

Purging Pejoratives

Chapter:
(p.36) Chapter Three Purging Pejoratives
Source:
From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226534640.003.0003

This chapter explores the conflicts and conundrums that arise in removing objectionable names from maps. To address the extent of the problem of objectionable names, the author compiled a list of derogatory terms and queried the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) to find which ones might be found on topographic maps. Among groups vulnerable to cartographic insult, Italian Americans get off lightly. GNIS turned up 51 official names and 10 variants based on guinea—an anti-Italian pejorative that also denigrates people of mixed American-Indian and African-American ancestry. German and Polish Americans have even less cause for complaint. A query to GNIS found only eleven cases of kraut and six of Polack. Non-ethnic white Americans are not spared, at least not in the Southwest, where gringo has derogatory connotations. Derived from the Spanish word for Greek, gringo once referred to anyone speaking a strange language.

Keywords:   objectionable names, topographic maps, Italian Americans, American-Indians, African Americans, Gringo, Geographic Names Information System

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