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Although the translation was literal, the Americans found it to have a perjorative meaning.
The notion of ethnic has changed its place in American English and is no longer used in a perjorative sense, as it was around the turn of the century, but in the sense that everybody has or should have an ethnicity, or even several ethnicities.
This is not meant in a perjorative sense as Hitchens is one of our most thoughtful and controversial critics and, as he himself acknowledges, the last original contribution to the pen/sword debate was made decades ago by Bertold Brecht who remarked: 'Every tank has a crucial flaw - its driver'.
But racially-offensive sloganising and perjorative language that promotes hatred are not the same as gentle, mickey-taking gags.
Marriage of convenience" is a perjorative term today.
References to the Boethusians are almost all perjorative.