Word of the Week (131): SHAGROON (probability 14778), by David Sutton

A SHAGROON was an early settler to New Zealand of other than British origin; the word comes from the Irish seachran, wandering. The word sounds derogatory; I don't know whether it was, but human nature having a deplorable but deep-rooted tendency to xenophobia most of the words for those from foreign parts and/or of an ethnicity different from one's own do appear to carry a pejorative charge. One thinks, for example, of BOGTROTTER for an Irishman, BOHUNK for a Slav or Hungarian immigrant, BLUENOSE for a Nova Scotian, CHIGGA for a young working-class person from Hobart, Tasmania, BOONG for a Native Australian, GINZO for an Italian, GAMMAT for a Cape Coloured person, GEECHEE for a rural southern black, GAIJIN, a Japanese word for one of non-Japanese origin, and BACKRA or BUCKRA, a West Indian word for a white man or woman.

I don't know whether MALIHINI for a newcomer to Hawaii, PALAGI, a Samoan word for a person from outside the Pacific islands, esp a European, or MZUNGU, a Swahili word for a white person, are particularly insulting, but they are probably at least tinged with the general patronage towards the AUSLANDER, the UITLANDER or, in short, the b----y FURRINER.


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