Hottentot (racial term)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Korah Hottentots preparing to remove" (Samuel Daniell, 1805).
Early 19th-century caricature showing settlers being attacked by cannibal "Hottentots".[1]

Hottentot (British and South African English /ˈhɒtənˌtɒt/) is a term historically used of the Khoikhoi, the non-Bantu indigenous nomadic pastoralists of South Africa.

The term has also been used to refer to the non-Bantu indigenous population as a whole, now collectively known as the Khoisan.[2] Use of the term is now deprecated and considered offensive, the preferred name for the non-Bantu indigenous people of the Western Cape area being Khoi, Khoikhoi, or Khoisan.[3]

Etymology[edit]

The term Hottentot originated among the "old Dutch", that is the settlers of the Dutch Cape Colony who arrived from the 1650s,[2] and it entered English from Dutch in the seventeenth century.[4] However, no definitive Dutch etymology for the term is known. A widely claimed etymology is from a supposed Dutch expression equivalent to "stammerer, stutterer", applied to the Khoikhoi on account of the distinctive click consonants in their languages. There is, however, no earlier attestation of a word hottentot to support this theory. An alternative possibility is that the name derived from an overheard term in chants accompanying Khoikhoi or San dances, but seventeenth-century transcriptions of such chants offer no conclusive evidence for this.[4]

An early Anglicisation of the term is recorded as hodmandod in the years around 1700.[5] The reduced Afrikaans/Dutch form hotnot has also been borrowed into South African English as an offensive term for black people.[6]

Usage as an ethnic term[edit]

In seventeenth-century Dutch, Hottentot was at times used to denote all black people (synonymously with Kaffir), but at least some speakers were careful to use the term Hottentot to denote what they thought of as a race distinct from the supposedly darker-skinned Kaffirs. This distinction between the non-Bantu "Cape Blacks" and the Bantu was noted as early as 1684 by the French anthropologist François Bernier.[7] The idea that Hottentot referred strictly to the non-Bantu peoples of southern Africa was well embedded in colonial scholarly thought by the end of the eighteenth century.[8]

The main meaning of Hottentot as an ethnic term in the later 19th and the 20th centuries has therefore been to denote the Khoikhoi people specifically.[9] At the same time, however, Hottentot also continued to be used through the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries in a wider sense, to include all of the people now usually referred to with the modern term Khoisan (not only the Khoikhoi, but also the San people, hunter-gatherer populations from the interior of Southern Africa who had not been known to the seventeenth-century settlers, once often referred to as Bosjesmans in Dutch and Bushmen in English).[10][11]

The term Hottentot remained in use as a technical ethnic term in anthropological and historiographical literature into the late 1980s,[12] and the 1996 edition of the Dictionary of South African English merely says that 'the word "Hottentot" is seen by some as offensive and Khoikhoi is sometimes substituted as a name for the people, particularly in scholarly contexts'.[13] Yet by the 1980s, because of the racist connotations discussed below, it was increasingly been seen as too derogatory and offensive to be used in an ethnic sense.[14]

Usage as a term of abuse, and racist connotations[edit]

From the eighteenth century onwards, the term hottentot was also a term of abuse without a specific ethnic sense, comparable to barbarian or cannibal.[15] In its ethnic sense, it had developed connotations of savagery and primitivism soon already in the seventeenth century: colonial depictions of the Hottentots (Khoikhoi) in the seventeenth to eighteenth century were characterized by savagery, often suggestive of cannibalism or the consumption of raw flesh, physiological features such as steatopygia and elongated labia perceived as primitive or "simian"; and a perception of the click sounds in the Khoikhoi languages as "bestial".[16] Thus it is possible to speak from the seventeenth century onwards of a European, colonial image of "the Hottentot" which bore little relation to any realities of the Khoisan in Africa, and which fed into the usage of hottentot as a generalised term of abuse.[17] Correspondingly, the word is "sometimes used as ugly slang for a black person".[18]

Use of the derived term hotnot was explicitly proscribed in South Africa by 2008.[19] Accordingly, much recent scholarship on the history of colonial attitudes to the Khoisan, or on the European trope of 'the Hottentot', puts the term Hottentot in scare quotes.[20]

Other usages[edit]

In its original role of ethnic designator, the term Hottentot was included into a variety of derived terms, such as the Hottentot Corps,[21] the first Coloured unit to be formed in the South African army, originally called the Corps Bastaard Hottentoten (Dutch: "Corps of Bastard Hottentots"), organised in 1781 by the Dutch colonial administration of the time.[22]:51

The word is also used in the common names of a wide variety of plants and animals,[23] such as the Africanis dogs sometimes called 'Hottentot hunting dogs'; the fish Pachymetopon blochii, frequently simply called hottentots; Carpobrotus edulis, commonly known as a 'hottentot-fig'; and Trachyandra, commonly known as 'hottentot cabbage'. It has also given rise to the scientific name for one genus of scorpion, Hottentotta, and may be the origin of the epithet tottum in the botanical name Leucospermum tottum.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "All among the Hottentots Capering ashore, a satirical view of the 1820 settlers, to remind emigrants of the dangers awaiting them", caption: "All among the Hottentots Capring ashore"!! or the Blessings of Emigration to the Cape of Forlorn[Good] Hope, source unknown, identified only as "Cruikshank, presumably George Cruikshank (1792–1878)", reproduction from Anthony Preston, Suid-Afrikaanse Geskiedenis in Beeld (1989)
  2. ^ a b "The old Dutch also did not know that their so-called Hottentots formed only one branch of a wide-spread race, of which the other branch divided into ever so many tribes, differing from each other totally in language [...] While the so-called Hottentots called themselves Khoikhoi (men of men, i.e. men par excellence), they called those other tribes , the Sonqua of the Cape Records [...] We should apply the term Hottentot to the whole race, and call the two families, each by the native name, that is the one, the Khoikhoi, the so-called Hottentot proper; the other the Sān () or Bushmen." Theophilus Hahn, Tsuni-||Goam: The Supreme Being to the Khoi-Khoi (1881), p. 3.
  3. ^ "Khoisan" is an artificial compound term introduced in 20th-century ethnology, but since the late 1990s it has been adopted as a self designation (since 2017 officially by the passing of a "Traditional & Khoisan Leadership Bill" by the South African National Assembly. Khoisan march to Parliament to demand land rights, ENCA , 3 December 2015. Pelane Phakgadi, Ramaphosa meets aggrieved Khoisan activists at Union Buildings, Eyewitness News, 24 December 2017. Illegitimate Khoisan leaders are trying to exploit new bill, IOL, 17 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "A very large number of different etymologies for the name have been suggested ... The most frequently repeated suggestion ... is that the word was a spec. use of a formally identical Dutch word meaning ‘stammerer, stutterer’, which came to be applied to the Khoekhoe and San people on account of the clicks characteristic of their languages. However, evidence for the earlier general use appears to be lacking. Another frequent suggestion is that the people were so named after one or more words which early European visitors to southern Africa heard in chants accompanying dances of the Khoekhoe or San ... but the alleged chant is rendered in different ways in different 17th-cent. sources, and some of the accounts may be based on hearsay rather than first-hand knowledge. "Hottentot, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018. Citing G. S. Nienaber, 'The origin of the name “Hottentot” ', African Studies, 22:2 (1963), 65-90, doi:10.1080/00020186308707174. See also Rev. Prof Johannes Du Plessis, B.A., B.D. (1917). "Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science". pp. 189–193. Retrieved 5 July 2010.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link).
  5. ^ "hodmandod, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88816. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  6. ^ "hotnot, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88816. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  7. ^ Anonymous [F. Bernier], "Nouvelle division de la terre par les différentes espèces ou races qui l'habitent", Journal des Sçavants, 24 April 1684, p. 133–140. les Noirs du Cap de bonne Esperance semblent estre d'une autre espece que ceux du reste de l'Afrique. (p. 136). See also Charles Frankel, La science face au racisme (1986), 41f.
  8. ^ Jochen S. Arndt, 'What’s in a Word? Historicising the Term ‘Caffre’ in European Discourses about Southern Africa between 1500 and 1800', Journal of Southern African Studies (2017), 1-17. doi:10.1080/03057070.2018.1403212.
  9. ^ "Hottentot, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Hottentot, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  11. ^ Alan Barnard, Anthropology and the Bushman (Oxford: Berg, 2007), pp. 11-21.
  12. ^ E.g. Hilton Basil Fine, Crime, punishment, and the administration of justice at the Cape of Good Hope 1806-1828 (1988); Michael Lewis Wilson Notes on the Nomenclature of the Khoisan (1986); Harry A. Gailey, R.E. Krieger, History of Africa: From 1800 to 1945 (1989), 67ff.
  13. ^ Geoffrey Hughes, 'Hottentot', in An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-Speaking World (Armonk, New York: Sharpe, 2006), p. 243.
  14. ^ Richard Elphick, Khoikhoi and the Founding of White South Africa (Cape of Good Hope: Ravan Press, 1985), p. xv: 'The word Hottentot is occasionally heard even in the 1980s, but few outside South Africa know its precise meaning'. "Bring Back the 'Hottentot Venus'". Web.mit.edu. 15 June 1995. Retrieved 13 August 2012.; "'Hottentot Venus' goes home". BBC News. 29 April 2002. Retrieved 13 August 2017.: "the Khoisan tribe of hunter-gatherers who lived in the southernmost tip of Africa and were also known as Hottentots, which is now considered a derogatory and offensive term." Strobel, Christoph (2008). "A Note on Terminology". The Testing Grounds of Modern Empire: The Making of Colonial Racial Order in the American Ohio Country and the South African Eastern Cape, 1770s–1850s. Peter Lang. p. x.
  15. ^ Geoffrey Hughes, 'Hottentot', in An Encyclopedia of Swearing: The Social History of Oaths, Profanity, Foul Language, and Ethnic Slurs in the English-Speaking World (Armonk, New York: Sharpe, 2006), pp. 241-43. "Hottentot, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  16. ^ S. Qureshi, Displaying Sara Baartman, the 'Hottentot Venus' (2004), p.234. James Kicherer (1799): "Bushmen were ' total strangers to domestic happiness …(and) will kill their children without remorse as when they are ill-shaped, when they are in want of food, when the father of a child has forsaken its mother, or when obliged to flee from the Farmers or others… There are instances of parents throwing their tender off-spring to the hungry Lion … Many of these wild Hottentots live by plunder and murder, and are guilty of the most horrid and atrocious actions.' "[1]
  17. ^ François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar, L'invention du Hottentot: histoire du regard occidental sur les Khoisan (XVe-XIXe siècle) (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2002): 'Somme toutes, les destins de ces topoi qui forment le Hottentot d'Europe restent largement indifférents à leur degré d'adéquation avec les Khoisan d'Afrique' (p. 10). Linda Evi Merians, Envisioning the Worst: Representations of "Hottentots" in Early-modern England (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001).
  18. ^ Robert Hendrickson, The Dictionary of Eponyms: Names that Became Words (New York: Stein and Day, 1985 [repr. from Philadelphia: Chilton, 1972]), p. 149.
  19. ^ "Statement on Cabinet Meeting of 5 March 2008". South African Department of Foreign Affairs. 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-10-26.: "We should take care not to use derogatory words that were used to demean black persons in this country. Words such as Kaffir, coolie, Boesman, hotnot and many others have negative connotations and remain offensive as they were used to degrade, undermine and strip South Africans of their humanity and dignity."
  20. ^ Linda Evi Merians, Envisioning the Worst: Representations of "Hottentots" in Early-modern England (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001); Nicholas Hudson, ' "Hottentots" and the evolution of European racism", Journal of European Studies, 34.4 (December 2004), 308-32, doi:10.1177/0047244104048701; David Johnson, 'Representing the Cape "Hottentots", from the French Enlightenment to Post-Apartheid South Africa', Eighteenth-Century Studies, 40.4 (Summer 2007), 525-52. https://www.jstor.org/stable/30053727.
  21. ^ "Hottentot, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  22. ^ Pretorius, Fransjohan (2014). A History of South Africa: From the Distant Past to the Present Day. Hatsfield, Pretoria: Protea Book House. ISBN 978-1-86919-908-1.
  23. ^ "Hottentot, n. and adj." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018.
  24. ^ Rourke, John Patrick (1970). Taxonomic Studies on Leucospermum R.Br. (PDF). pp. 103–107.
  • François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar, L'invention du Hottentot: histoire du regard occidental sur les Khoisan (XVe-XIXe siècle) (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2002)
  • Linda Evi Merians, Envisioning the Worst: Representations of "Hottentots" in Early-modern England (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001)