Animal totem as ethnic slur? February 5, 2012 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Isn't referring to French people as "frogs" offensive?
posted by Renoroc to Etiquette/Policy at 7:10 AM (54 comments total)

There are worse terms.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:14 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does it offend you?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:18 AM on February 5, 2012


Not really. French people aren't as a group underprivileged or victims of structural oppression, so using slurs to refer to the French is at worst just irritating and stupid.
posted by planet at 7:18 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't say it's something I think is worth wringing my hands about. It's up there with the French calling Brits "les rosbifs" or countless countries calling Americans "yanks". It doesn't exactly carry the same underlying hate as "spic" or "paki'.
posted by modernnomad at 7:19 AM on February 5, 2012


I think it was just a play on the "tiger mom" book from last year. Yeah, calling French people "frogs" is kind of a weird old slur but in the context of riffing on tiger mom with "frog mom" it seems pretty innocuous.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:20 AM on February 5, 2012


(also, if you think it is offensive, why don't you just come out and say it and explain your reasons why and what you think the community should do about it, rather making than this kind of passive-aggressive pseudo-callout?)
posted by modernnomad at 7:21 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think it's one of those mildly derogatory phrases that's used jokingly often as not. No worse than yank or limey, and pretty far from fighting words.
posted by Diablevert at 7:22 AM on February 5, 2012


I'm from Quebec and I could give a shit if you called me a frog. Making fun of someone because of something they are perceived to eat, couldn't be less offensive to me. I do wonder what tomrorow's MetaTalk Word of the Day will be though.
posted by gman at 7:25 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Depends on the context. Using it to refer to a French Canadian could be really offensive.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:25 AM on February 5, 2012


Maybe you could be clearer about your purpose with this post? Are you just asking generally what people think, or are you requesting that people not use this term? Or are you trying to make some other point?
posted by taz (staff) at 7:26 AM on February 5, 2012


French people aren't as a group underprivileged or victims of structural oppression, so using slurs to refer to the French is at worst just irritating and stupid.

That sort of depends; in Canada, the French have been underprivileged and victims of structural oppression, so "Frogs" can have more slur-heft than one might expect. (I assume "Pepsi" is a Quebec/Canada-specific slur.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:30 AM on February 5, 2012


in Canada, the French have been underprivileged and victims of structural oppression

Not since the 1960s. They're currently the coddled recipients in billions of federal largesse each year, extorted from Canadian taxpayers under the implicit threat of separation should they be asked to fund their own unaffordable social programs. As a result of official bilingualism, they are also at a significant advantage for any job in the federal public service. This doesn't prevent them from harbouring a perpetual victim complex, as befits modern identity politics.
posted by Dasein at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hence "have been", not "are". Your blanket characterization is more than a little off-putting.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:43 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

"Originally (around 1330), "frog" was applied by Britons to almost any group they found objectionable, and was aimed at both Jesuits and the Dutch before it was decided in the late 18th century that the French, with whom England was then at war, were the real "frogs".
some web page
Other guesses at etymology are easily found, most turning on the eating of cuisses de grenouilles. See also "kraut", "rosbif", "limey".

The French nationals I know all find "frog" funny, not offensive. I suppose if it were said as malice it might give offense; or else be met with derisive laughter at such an archaic insult.
posted by Nelson at 7:49 AM on February 5, 2012


> I do wonder what tomrorow's MetaTalk Word of the Day will be though.

Biscuit eaters.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:50 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


That sort of depends; in Canada, the French have been underprivileged and victims of structural oppression, so "Frogs" can have more slur-heft than one might expect.
I always forget about French Canadians. Even so, the book linked on the Blue is about French-in-France folks.
posted by planet at 7:52 AM on February 5, 2012


Isn't referring to French people as "frogs" offensive?

Only to amphibians.
posted by Forktine at 7:54 AM on February 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Not really. French people aren't as a group underprivileged or victims of structural oppression, so using slurs to refer to the French is at worst just irritating and stupid.

Minority status isn't the be all and end all of deciding if a term is offensive or not. It is fantastically helpful for context and when you're explaining when it is and isn't okay to use a certain word, but just because a group is no longer considered oppressed doesn't mean that a slur against them could no longer be offensive.

I have no opinion on this word in particular, but I wouldn't call a German person a "kraut", even though I don't really consider them a repressed minority either.
posted by Think_Long at 7:56 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody here should presume to speak for the Quebecois. Let's wait for them to have the final say on the acceptability of this term.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:06 AM on February 5, 2012


I am deeply offended on their behalf.
posted by modernserf at 8:07 AM on February 5, 2012


I all depends how it is used.
A friend of mine from Montreal called his blog "a frog in the valley" when he was, well, in the Valley.
Here I agree with mathowie: it's an innocuous play on words.
On the other hand, what Dasein wrote is either misinformed or downright offensive.
posted by bru at 8:11 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought it was because of a particular kind of chin.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:15 AM on February 5, 2012


The preffered nomenclature is cheese-eating surrender monkey.
posted by jonmc at 8:17 AM on February 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


If it is used to insult - wouldn't that an offense?

I grew up near Quebec and during the FLQ crisis - so anti-french talk was abundant. However, I do remember in school that referring to the French as "frogs" was considered rude and would get you sent out to the hall. And it is still today.

The term seems to have a cultural/class origin.
posted by what's her name at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2012


Nobody here should presume to speak for the Quebecois. Let's wait for them to have the final say on the acceptability of this term.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:06 AM on February 5


Ahem.

I'm from Quebec and I could give a shit if you called me a frog. Making fun of someone because of something they are perceived to eat, couldn't be less offensive to me. I do wonder what tomrorow's MetaTalk Word of the Day will be though.
posted by gman at 7:25 AM on February 5

posted by Diablevert at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2012


My mom grew up in Vermont in a community with a large French-Canadian community and the local term was "Canuck," or "Frenchie." (Of my mom and her family were immigrants from Italy, so they were probably considered "wops" or "guineas.")

(I do remember that Mordecai Richler had a great quote to the effect that the French's biggest mistake was keeping Quebec and giving away Louisiana.)
posted by jonmc at 8:21 AM on February 5, 2012




Please refrain from discussions of anything other than kittens please. Everything else offends someone.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


(I do remember that Mordecai Richler had a great quote to the effect that the French's biggest mistake was keeping Quebec and giving away Louisiana.)


That would have made True Blood amazing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2012


The problem with words like "offensive" is that they're subjective. So I guess what you're asking is "is this offensive to other people here?" without giving any indication why you're asking or what this post is supposed to be about. Sure, some people find it offensive. Enough to make it a verboten insult on MeFi? No, we're not going there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:27 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gman speaks for the Quebecois?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:31 AM on February 5, 2012


Diablevert: Ahem.

Meatbomb has me on killfile after that Sheets! incident the other day.

I'll tell you what I find offensive - when a user here makes a post and doesn't explain what their intent is, but doesn't come back for over an hour to explain themselves after being called out immediately.
posted by gman at 8:32 AM on February 5, 2012


Diablevert: no true Quebecois would allow such a dishonour on his people, is all I'm saying.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:33 AM on February 5, 2012


I have a photo of an advertisement from some French business school using the word 'frog' as a humourous headline but don't have the data bandwidth right now to look it up in Flickr. That is, I can cite it when I have ze internetz
posted by infini at 8:35 AM on February 5, 2012


I am beginning to suspect an attempt at rustling up a post-"cocksucker" discussion ruckus.


In other word, shenanigans.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:38 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't listen to gman about this; he's a pea soup.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:39 AM on February 5, 2012


For the longest time I thought rosbif referenced not to the diet of Britions, but to the color they can attain if left out in the sun.
posted by The Whelk at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


We should not be able to say anything. If there's a chance someone could get hurt, it's really just not worth it.
posted by heyho at 8:40 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not since the 1960s. They're currently the coddled recipients in billions of federal largesse each year, extorted from Canadian taxpayers under the implicit threat of separation should they be asked to fund their own unaffordable social programs. As a result of official bilingualism, they are also at a significant advantage for any job in the federal public service. This doesn't prevent them from harbouring a perpetual victim complex, as befits modern identity politics.
posted by Dasein at 10:39 on February 5 [+] [!]


Are you for real?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:41 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your silence makes me uncomfortable and I infer offensive intent from it.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:41 AM on February 5, 2012


I am beginning to suspect an attempt at rustling up a post-"cocksucker" discussion ruckus.
In other word, shenanigans.


If you don't take the sensitivities of the Pepsis seriously you're Hitler.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:44 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So there's going to be a rash of this again, is there? How beyond tiresome.
posted by Decani at 8:45 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Decani: So there's going to be a rash of this again, is there?

Yes, and unfortunately there's no cream for it.
posted by gman at 8:47 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gman speaks for the Quebecois?!

I'm sure the Quebecois are a diverse set of people with varying opinions on this and other subjects. I just think it's funny there's about 20 comments in the thread along the lines of "Still, actual French-Canadians might feel differently," and there's all beneath the one from an actual French Canadian going "Nope, don't give a fuck."
posted by Diablevert at 8:49 AM on February 5, 2012


Prepare the soothing unguents!
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on February 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Making fun of someone because of something they are perceived to eat, couldn't be less offensive to me.

In Carlito's Way there's a scene where Sean Penn's charachter (a Jewish lawyer) drunkenly calls an Italian gangster a "fuckin' wop." One night, I was channel surfing and saw part of the movie broadcast in Spanish on cable. When that seen came, Penn called the guy a "pinche spaghetti."

The next day, I asked a few Latin guys if they had ever heard the term used that way, and they said no. FWIW.
posted by jonmc at 8:49 AM on February 5, 2012


there is an acronynm for those french who invade siciliy, yes.
posted by clavdivs at 8:50 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just think it's funny there's about 20 comments in the thread along the lines of "Still, actual French-Canadians might feel differently," and there's all beneath the one from an actual French Canadian going "Nope, don't give a fuck."

How do you know there's only one French Canadian participating in this discussion?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:52 AM on February 5, 2012


We should not be able to say anything. If there's a chance someone could get hurt, it's really just not worth it.


ribbit, ribbit
posted by clavdivs at 8:53 AM on February 5, 2012


mmm, sugar smacks
posted by jonmc at 8:53 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gman speaks for the Quebecois?!
And in my opinion, they could not ask for a finer spokesperson.
posted by planet at 8:57 AM on February 5, 2012


How do you know there's only one French Canadian participating in this discussion?

I don't, and as I said, I'm sure the Quebecois are a diverse set of people with varying opinions on this and other subjects. One data point does not a statistically sound survey make. But I'd take a statement from a member of a group about whether something is X over speculation from outsiders as to whether something may be X to members of that group.
posted by Diablevert at 8:59 AM on February 5, 2012


Hurf durf byte eaters.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on February 5, 2012


This post is two hours old, I still don't know exactly what sort of conversation Renoroc wants to be having here. There's an existing open MeTa thread about offensive language and I'd suggest that people who really want to discuss this topic take it over there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:01 AM on February 5, 2012


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