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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, November 25, 2005

Watching The Watch-Words

Friend:

Is Political Correctness getting you down?

Does having to say "logically unenhanced" instead of "stupid" throw you into a downward spiralling depression?

Is the fact that the Dutch Language Union, the official organ for the Dutch language (analogous to the Real Academia Española for Spanish, e.g.), have decreed that Christ should now be spelt "christ" and Jewish "jood" in the lower-case, whilst aztec and eskimo, previously lower-case, must, starting in 2006, be capitalised as "Azteek" and "Eskimo" in Dutch...send you WTF'ing into the night?

Or is your male or female alopoecia increasing now that your kids are being raised in PC-speak at school, like being read to from such books as "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times" -- reworking such beloved tales as Little Red Riding Hood into:

On the way to Grandma's house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. She replied, "Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult."

The wolf said, "You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone."

Red Riding Hood said, "I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."

Do you believe that it's a GOOD THING people say "handicapped" instead of "cripple" now, but that wymyn for women is a PC-bridge way way too far?

Well, buster, so do I.

And, fortunately, there are people like us the world over, who do too.

What's more, they are monitoring these incremental and insidious changes to our languages, as they creep ever onwards with the previously self-righteous energy of Christian missionaries.

(To paraphrase the Duke of Wellington: Capitalise and be damn'd!)

Here is that entity, called the Global Language Monitor, who have just launched their:

TOP 10 POLITICALLY inCORRECT WORDS AND PHRASES FOR 2005

"1. Misguided Criminals for Terrorist: The BBC attempts to strip away all emotion by using what it considers neutral descriptions when describing those who carried out the bombings in the London Tubes.

The rub: the professed intent of these misguided criminals was to kill, without warning, as many innocents as possible (which is the common definition for the term, terrorist).

[To see one example used by John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, Click Here.]

2. Intrinsic Aptitude (or lack thereof) was a suggestion by Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard, on why women might be underrepresented in engineering and science. He was nearly fired for his speculation.

3. Thought Shower or Word Shower substituting for brainstorm so as not to offend those with brain disorders such as epilepsy.

4. Scum or "la racaille" for French citizens of Moslem and North African descent inhabiting the projects ringing French Cities. France's Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, used this most Politically inCorrect (and reprehensible) label to describe the young rioters (and by extension all the inhabitants of the Cites).

5. Out of the Mainstream when used to describe the ideology of any political opponent: At one time slavery was in the mainstream, thinking the sun orbited the earth was in the mainstream, having your blood sucked out by leeches was in the mainstream. What's so great about being in the mainstream?

6. Deferred Success as a euphemism for the word fail. The Professional Association of Teachers in the UK considered a proposal to replace any notion of failure with deferred success in order to bolster students self-esteem.

[ed.- This is my favourite. It encapsulates all the things I loathe about Political Correctness. That maniac yet Paxil-driven upbeatness you have to ascribe to any possibility of negativity or failure, because Christ forbid , your feelings should be hurt. Don't worry, pet, this shouts, you're just a deferred success right now! As soon as your 43-year old body moves out of your mum's garage, you'll be another Bill Gates, Mahatma Ghandi!]

7. Womyn for Women to distance the word from man. This in spite of the fact that the term man in the original Indo-European is gender neutral (as have been its successors for some 5,000 years).

8. C.E. for A.D.: Is the current year A.D. 2005 or 2005 C.E.? There is a movement to strip A.D. (Latin for "In the Year of the Lord") from the year designation used in the West since the 5th century and replace it with the supposedly more neutral Common Era (though the zero reference year for the beginning of the Common Era remains the year of Christs birth).

9. "God Rest Ye Merry Persons" for "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen": A Christmas, eh, Holiday, carol with 500 years of history is not enough to sway the Anglican Church at Cardiff Cathedral (Wales) from changing the original lyrics.

10. Banning the word Mate: the Department of Parliamentary Services in Canberra issued a general warning to its security staff banning the use of the word 'mate' in any dealings they might have with both members of the Parliament and the public. What next? banning Down Under so as not to offend those living in the Up Over.

Holiday Bonus: Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings for Christmas (which in some UK schools now label Wintervale. (In the word X-Mas, the Greek letter 'Chi' represented by the Roman X actually stands for the first two letters of the name Christ.)

[ed.- This may not raise your eyebrows in North America, where you have said Season's Greetings for years, but the thing is, Political Correctness hasn't as YET taken as much root in the UK, as it has in the US or Canada. In a country where the majority are still unremarkably Church of England/Scotland, we say Happy Christmas to all and sundry, turbaned or not. This is obviously changing]

Last year the Top Politically Incorrect words were:

Los Angeles County's insistence of covering over with labels any computer networking protocols that mention master/slave jargon. Following closely were non-same sex marriage for marriage, and waitron for waiter or waitress."

-- Oh yeah, I can really see that catching on, can't you?

"Waitron, there's a gender-neutral fly in my vegan-approved soup!".

Laughter is the best cure-all for what ails you, my grannie always said, and invariably, most people do laugh at PC-nes. I know I did, as I read the list above.

But I also admit, it gives me pause.

I want to tell these politically correct bodies to grow up, stop being so lame, and stop dictating what we should use, because the inference is that just everyday folks like you and I are insensitively rude and unfeeling towards their fellow man.

Sure we are. That's part of life, like colds, flat feet, and halitosis.

But whether you take an aspirin, wear corrective shoes, and use Listerine is up to each one of us to decide.

The fact of the matter is, most people do the right thing. When they don't, they admit it, even if few people like to be corrected, and might do so with bad grace.

But bad grace doesn't mean monster of a human being. And this is the subtext of political correctness.

That we are all presumed to be incredibly arrogant people, who need to be forcefed untraumatic tolerance.

The irony is not lost on anyone reading this, I'm sure.

Political Correctness is itself, politically incorrect.

9 Comments:

  • Victoria -- What never seems to be discussed by Language Police is how much the element of power and control enters into these discussions. The repressed notion seems to be 'if we can push language in a direction, people will necessarily follow.' This could be true, but is it a thesis the PC wish to test to see if it is true? I doubt it. So then the question becomes, 'who should have power over language?' And the answer to the PC is apparent...

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Nov 25, 03:29:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Why must folks make it so hard to attempt parody and satire?

    (no matter how stupid and ridiculous you try and be while being satirical, wait a moment and your words will be repeated in all seriousness)

    By Blogger XWL, at Fri Nov 25, 05:39:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Two words you will never, never hear me use:

    Beijing
    Mumbai

    By Blogger JSU, at Fri Nov 25, 08:06:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Victoria -- What never seems to be discussed by Language Police is how much the element of power and control enters into these discussions. The repressed notion seems to be 'if we can push language in a direction, people will necessarily follow.'

    Oh yeah, Ron.

    As if the unearthly brilliance of the words, or the indisputable idealism of the impulse, would suddenly strike a bolt of logical lightning in our minds.

    Please.

    This could be true, but is it a thesis the PC wish to test to see if it is true? I doubt it. So then the question becomes, 'who should have power over language?' And the answer to the PC is apparent...

    As ever, it's not THE PEOPLE who make this change happen.

    In this case, it's academics/educators, who influence government, who make laws we have to follow and repeat.

    Good point, Ron.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Nov 26, 03:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Why must folks make it so hard to attempt parody and satire?

    At the risk of not realising this is a comment on myself ;), I couldn't agree more, XWL.

    That's why some people can't read The Onion without getting bent out of shape.

    (no matter how stupid and ridiculous you try and be while being satirical, wait a moment and your words will be repeated in all seriousness)

    Holy guacamole.

    That could be one of the best modern dicta I've ever heard, other than "Everyone will have 15 minutes of fame in the future".

    Take a bow, papi!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Nov 26, 03:48:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Two words you will never, never hear me use:

    Beijing
    Mumbai


    Ugh, yuck. Both.

    I admit, I say Beijing, as I write Muslim not Moslem, and Qu'ran not Koran, well, I don't know why -- maybe the little educator inside me says its proper.

    But because Mumbai was in our general sphere of influence, I will never say Mumbai.

    Why should I? If the people there themselves don't.

    Cheers,
    Victoria (oh and that goes double for Myanmar)

    P.S.: Word verification was something like mmmmmldx, or nnnnnldx or iiiiildx -- it failed, so I'll never know. Sheesh.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Nov 26, 03:51:00 pm GMT-5  

  • That's twice you've found profundity where my main aim was levity.

    (ok I guess both were a goal, besides Swift, Socrates is my main model, why not aim high?)

    Thanks, though, and if you are going to call me papi, I prefer to be called big papi, or better yet, aiii, big papiiii!

    By Blogger XWL, at Sat Nov 26, 04:46:00 pm GMT-5  

  • That's twice you've found profundity where my main aim was levity.

    I'm quicker on the draw at Althouse's.

    (BTW, I'm kinda avoiding our beloved Ann's site these days. I got tired of the netkiddie wars she will insist on responding to. I'll be back when it dies down)

    (ok I guess both were a goal, besides Swift, Socrates is my main model, why not aim high?)

    "Man's reach should exceed his grasp; else, what is a heaven for?"

    - Robert Browning

    Thanks, though, and if you are going to call me papi, I prefer to be called big papi, or better yet, aiii, big papiiii!

    Only if you are a clutch hitter, big papi!

    I bet you can only hit .235. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Nov 27, 01:17:00 am GMT-5  

  • Victoria, I'm busy in several directions tonight but some animated show--I think Family Guy? My husband put it on in the kitchen--is playing in the background I just heard this snippet of dialogue:

    "... insane ..." (lady)

    "We prefer to call it mentally hilarious." (guy--doctor character?)

    I thought of you and this post.

    As you say, cheers!

    By Blogger reader_iam, at Sun Nov 27, 09:31:00 pm GMT-5  

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