I'm writing this just to you (and to Neal, for reasons that you'll
see) and not to the whole list. I see myself as someone whose mind
might be changed. For example, if an alternative term for "gypsy"
became common in places where I dance and call--say, common enough
that you could use it while calling a medley and experienced dancers
would immediately know what you meant--and if I didn't find the new
term inherently objectionable for some reason, I'd probably go along
with using it. Or if we heard from a fair number of Roma saying
they don't find the term "gypsy" objectionable as used in contra
dancing, and furthermore expressing the opinion that those who claim
offense are similar to, say, people who take offense that not all
English speakers everywhere are willing to adopt gender-free pronouns,
then I might feel happy to write off the whole issue.
As it is, the last time I called a dance using the figure in question,
I described it as a "two-eye turn" and everyone seemed to know what I
was talking about. But if I'd seen some confusion, I'd have been
quick to add something like "otherwise known as a gypsy". And if,
when I said "two-eye turn", someone had asked "Do you mean gypsy?",
I'd have said Yes, and I probably would not have gone into a spiel
about how some people find the term objectionable.
That said, I doubt that I or anyone else will likely be swayed by
the same people on the list continuing to repeat the same points
more emphatically. So I agree with you there, and I thank you for
asking people to consider whether their replies are adding anything.
I've met Carol Silverman, ... She and her husband
are folk dancers and musicians (mainly Balkan, but also contra).
I think this is the first I've read about Professor Silverman being
a contra dancer herself, as opposed to her merely having heard about
the use of the term "gypsy" in contra dance through correspondence
from someone on the SW callers' list. If she indeed is at least an
occasional contra dancer, then I wonder:
* Has she asked the callers where she dances to find an
alternative term to "gypsy"?
* If so, have they followed her request?
* If so, what term do they now use and haw much acceptance
and familiarity has it gained among local dancers and among
other callers in her area and beyond?
Answers to these questions would bring at least a little new
information to the discussion, rather than more rehashing of what
has already been said.