This post is by Terena Bell from Books | The Guardian
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They can sometimes draw attention to what they aim to conceal, but they have found useful new life on social media as a marker of disdain
Is “n*gger” the same as the N-word? It’s a question we chose to avoid earlier this year. When writing a piece about the differences between book titles in the UK and the US, we decided to describe Agatha Christie’s 1939 mystery as a “novel that included the N-word in its title”, judging that spelling out the word didn’t meet the test our style guide advises of being “essential” to the story. But we didn’t use the asterisk.
Before we get too far into a discussion of that word, note that this is not an essay on race – instead, it’s an apologia for the asterisk. Over the past 120 years, our poor little * has morphed into the linguistic equivalent of black Xs ...