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the damage of a word and cultural resistance

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

Words have a physiognomy because we adopt towards them, as towards each person, a certain form of behaviour which makes its complete appearance the moment each word is given.

– M. Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception

(Sense Experience, excerpt)

After emigrating from Hungary (Szatmar Medye – Szanislau, County Satu Mare, now Romania) to USA (Ellis Island)  in 1912, Julia Alt married Nicholas (Miklós) Kaczur, Sr.  Moving to Johnstown, PA where Nicholas was a coal minor for four years before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in 1916, they were among hundreds of thousands of Eastern and Central Europeans who emigrated to the United States during 1870-1920.  Researching Johnstown, I stumbled upon a derogotary term that was given to those emigrating to work in the coal mines of Pennsylvania from Eastern and Central Europe en masse, “hunky”, an assumed derivative of “hungy” for Hungarian.  I’m reminded again by the awfulness and repetition of cultural resistence and prejudicial gains in United States’ history of immigration struggles and debate.

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