French Colonial Texts

French Colonial Texts

Note: Most of these texts were translated from French into English by John Garrigus, Professor of History at Jacksonville University. He made them available as a coursepack which Prof. Peabody has, in turn, posted on the web.

Throughout the translations, Prof. Garrigus has left the words "nègre" and "négresse" untranslated. The words do not simply mean "black man" and "black woman"; seventeenth- and eighteenth-century authors used "noir" to describe people and things they perceived as black. "Nègre" was frequently used as a synonym for "slave" or "esclave" though there were also "nègres libres" [free nègres]. Today, in French, "nègre" is considered a moderately offensive term because of its close association with slavery and racism; it is a stronger word than the English "negro" which today has an old-fashioned but quasi-scientific ring. "Nègre" does not have nearly the bitterness or violence of the insult-word "nigger" in contemporary U.S. English, but this is probably its closest English equivalent.

 

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