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A friend of mine opened a bar named “KOON Bar” in Germany.

The bar is in Kassel and Kassel is often named as raccoon city, because a lot of raccoons live here. So he was looking for a short version paired with the raccoon head as a logo.

So in Germany, only a few people know the meaning it has in the US.

What do you think? Is it offensive to use it that way? It was never intended to be racist and the last 6 months nobody complained. A lot of different ethnical groups visit the bar.

I just wanted to know what people from the US think about it.

Thank you and greetings from Germany.

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    Apart from the fact that »Kboaorn« is quite an odd name, I doubt very much anyone would assume the offensive sense of coon was at play here. The logo could be clearer, though—you kind of have to know that Kassel is called ‘raccoon city’ to even be conditioned into recognising the very abstract shapes as a raccoon’s head. If I hadn’t known that (as I didn’t before reading your question), I would never have seen a raccoon’s head in the logo, which might possibly have increased the likelihood of interpreting the name offensively. Most likely, though, I’d have taken it as the owner’s name. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 17 '18 at 11:53
  • Thank you, the logo was intended to be subtle. But even i think rather of an asian name than of a offensive racist name. – Cesar Deutschmann Jan 17 '18 at 11:58
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    I am not sure if this fits the type of questions that may be asked on ELU. See the FAQ. – Kris Jan 17 '18 at 12:01
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    Personally I think keeping the name as is would be completely insane. – Max Williams Jan 17 '18 at 12:14
  • Rolls-Royce decided not to name a new model 'Silver Mist'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 17 '18 at 15:41

If you couldn't think of something clever to do with Waschbär and instead opt for English, then you have to deal with the cultural baggage that comes with the word. This can sometimes lead to disastrous — or hilarious — results, such as when the Archdiocese of Luxembourg decided the best way to reach young people was a campaign named "Pimp my church."

On the other hand, the spelling with a k and the quite clever logo with the raccoon head distance the name from a regionally limited racial slur in the United States.

Native speakers of English also must realize that once the English language leaves their shores, it no longer belongs to them. Kassel isn't Birmingham, Alabama, and if Chancellor Merkel can speak of a shitstorm on national television, then a Koon Bar in Kassel shouldn't be a problem.

  • Just to play devil’s advocate, the spelling with a k may also enhance the connection to the slur. There is a certain tendency on at least some social media to use k instead of c if you wish to imply some kind of connection to the KKK and the general type of ideology they subscribe to, and one might think the spelling ‘koon’ was an attempt at actually bringing out the slur sense of the word. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 17 '18 at 23:29
  • You could perfectly call it the "Waschbar". – rackandboneman Feb 14 '18 at 9:39
  • @rackamdboneman: Except people would think it was an upscale laundrette/laundromat. – KarlG Feb 14 '18 at 10:42

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