Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Hyphen

Am I running out of things to post? Hard to tell sometimes. I don't think so, or at least I hope not. I think that when I run out of things to say -- that is the time to say adios to the blog and take up rugby or squash.

At first glance, the subject of this post seems silly. (At last glance, it may seem equally or even more silly.) But it has been on my mind a few times over the years. The issue is whether to hyphenate the term "Asian American." Should there be a dash? In other words, is it "Asian-American" or is it "Asian American"? One can also ask apply this question to other races and ethnicities, for example, is it "Japanese-American" or is it "Japanese American"?

When I was but a toddler in my foray into identity politics, I had assumed that it was "Asian-American." I don't know why I just assumed it. It's one of those inexplicable mysteries of life, like why the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were named after Italian Renaissance artists.

Anyhow, my metamorphosis started when I took a poli sci class, and the professor kept on using the term "hyphenated Americans." He was mainly referring to "Italian-Americans," "Irish-Americans," and "Polish-Americans." Over and over again. The term "hyphenated Americans" began to sound too strange and limiting to me, also for inexplicable reasons. No, I take that back. Hyphenated Americans was portrayed by this prof as a somewhat derogatory characterization of these ethnic groups. That's why I had trouble with the hyphen.

So I dropped the hyphen. But over the years, I softened and put it back in again -- sometimes. Now I don't have any strong views over this issue, but I thought that I'd share my thoughts. And people wonder why my Saturday nights are so lonely. :)


Post a Comment

<< Home