Robert S. Wachal

American linguist

Robert S. Wachal (born 1929) is a Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the University of Iowa.

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  • According to Baugh, Black is the term preferred by most Black Americans. As a proper noun, like Negro (Spanish for 'black') or African American, it should be capitalized. The claim that black is a color word requiring lowercase makes meaning the major criterion for determining upper versus lower case. However, capitalization is determined by whether a term is a proper noun or not. Surely Black is synonymous with Negro, just as White is synonymous with Caucasian. Either they are all proper nouns or none of them is. Like White, Black is not a color term. If it were, such locutions as light-skinned Black person and dark-skinned White person would make no sense. Furthermore, when black is a color term and part of a proper name, as in Black Angus, it is nonetheless capitalized. And one would not think of using the color-word argument to downcase Mr. Black or Ms. White. The failure to capitalize Black when it is synonymous with African American is a matter of unintended racism, to put the best possible face on it. A similar case arises with the racial term Native American.

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