[Dixielandjazz] "Oriental Jazz"

David Richoux tubaman at batnet.com
Tue Mar 15 17:59:29 PST 2005

I did not see that message from David Littlefield yet - maybe a hick-up 
in my mail?

If you dig into the root meanings of "Oriental" and "East" you 
eventually end up with the goddess "Eastre" (or Ostara, Ostare, Ostern, 
Eostre, Eostra, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos, Ishtar, and 
Ashtur ) which is why I am doing this mini-special on March 24th. ;-)

Here is a pretty good dictionary explanation of "Oriental" from the 
American Heritage Dictionary 2000 ed.:
> 1. often Oriental Of or relating to the countries of the Orient or 
> their peoples or cultures; eastern.  2. Oriental Of or designating the 
> biogeographic region that includes Asia south of the Himalaya 
> Mountains and the islands of the Malay Archipelago.  3. Lustrous and 
> valuable: oriental pearls. 4a. Of or relating to a genuine or superior 
> gem: an oriental ruby. b. Relating to or designating corundum that 
> resembles another stone in color.
>  NOUN:
> often Oriental  (Often Offensive) An Asian.
> o
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> ri?en
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> tal?ly ?ADVERB
> Asian is now strongly preferred in place of Oriental for persons 
> native to Asia or descended from an Asian people. The usual objection 
> to Oriental?meaning ?eastern??is that it identifies Asian countries 
> and peoples in terms of their location relative to Europe. However, 
> this objection is not generally made of other Eurocentric terms such 
> as Near and Middle Eastern. The real problem with Oriental is more 
> likely its connotations stemming from an earlier era when Europeans 
> viewed the regions east of the Mediterranean as exotic lands full of 
> romance and intrigue, the home of despotic empires and inscrutable 
> customs. At the least these associations can give Oriental a dated 
> feel, and as a noun in contemporary contexts (as in the first Oriental 
> to be elected from the district) it is now widely taken to be 
> offensive. However, Oriental should not be thought of as an ethnic 
> slur to be avoided in all situations. As with Asiatic, its use other 
> than as an ethnonym, in phrases such as Oriental cuisine or Oriental 
> medicine, is not usually considered objectionable.
However, I have a 1989 recording by the Japanese ragtime/jazz group 
"King Cresol" that includes "Sheik of Araby," "Hindustan." and 
"Oriental Man" so either it is not a big deal to them, or they were 
exploring the "Western Viewpoint?"

(I will be making regular announcements about the "Non-PC" content of 
the show, but I think most of my audience is used to the wide ranging 
nature of my program after 20 years!)
Dave Richoux
On Mar 15, 2005, at 3:55 PM, Don Kirkman wrote:

> On Tue, 15 Mar 2005 16:47:50 -0500, David W. Littlefield wrote:
>> At 11:58 AM 03/15/05 -0800, you wrote:
>>> ("Oriental" traditionally referred to Egypt and
>>> the Near East, as has been noted elsewhere in this thread, though
>>> recently some of East Asian background have tried to invoke it for PC
>>> purposes.)
>> Actually, "Asian" is the PC term today, NOT "oriental". The latter 
>> indeed
>> did refer to the Near/Middle East, came to include all of Asia, then
>> relatively quickly became used pretty exclusively for East Asians. 
>> Jeez,
>> I've forgotten my anthropology, don't recall the technical term.  I'm 
>> not
>> sure why they hate "oriental" but they do--my 1995 Random House 
>> Websters
>> dictionary says it's "somewhat offensive", so there's clearly a 
>> history
>> there... I no longer have regular social contact with Asians as I did
>> before I retired, so I've never had the opportunity to ask...
> Answering off list.
> -- 
> Don
> donkirk at covad.net
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