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#4304 07/20/00 07:25 PM
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Just how much should language be expected to change in the interests of political correctness? We've touched on this a bit again in our discussions of personal pronouns and being "one of the guys". At least on the surface, these seem fairly harmless, but can be perceived as having sexist underpinnings. On the other end of the spectrum is the aide to the mayor of Washington D.C. (who is black) who was summarily dismissed (later to be reinstated) for using the word "niggardly" in reference to a fund he administered. Incidents like this contribute to p.c.-ness itself taking on a politically incorrect connotation.




#4305 07/21/00 12:35 AM
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Hoo boy, you ain't jus' whistlin' Dixie by openin' up that can o' worms, there, Bud! Here we go! I am anticipating
MUCH back-and-forth and round-about on this one!

Since no one else seems to have found this yet, I'll start with my two cents' worth. My opinion frankly varies according to the term used and the situation. I don't mind the use of the word 'Flagger" in place of Flagman in road
construction areas--a great many are women. On the other
hand, the word 'chairperson' seems to me not only cumbersome, but a bit ridiculous. (In this particular usage, I think a new, neutral title would be the best solution.)

There was a similar discussion here quite some time back, where a question was asked (to the best of my recollection) whether changing the language would actually result in
attitudinal changes. I said then, and still believe, that
using non-hurtful language is a matter of taking one small step at a time, as individuals become educated about what others think and feel.

"Political correctness" may or may not involve a real change in attitude. It is often used for the sole
purpose of avoiding retribution. I suppose this is better than uttering insults, but I'd prefer to see
genuine caring as the reason behind the change!

I can think of one example of how political correctness has asserted itself in television. I saw a re-run of a very old
show, where a famous line by the alleged comedian was, "To the moon, Alice, to the moon", as he raised his fist threateningly to his "wife". Apparently audiences thought that was riotously funny back then, but I was shocked. We don't hear that kind of thing any more, or rather, not so
overtly. Next?








#4306 07/21/00 07:33 AM
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<We don't hear that kind of thing any more, or rather, not so
overtly. Next?>
I've always thought that to be a problem with too much PC-ness, that it turns covert racists and bigots into covert ones. Sure attitudinal change has to be gradual, but sometimes PC terms assume a euphemistic role in language


#4307 07/21/00 08:35 AM
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I agree chairperson is an abomination. I would go with chair every time. According to "A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage" the use of chair for the person chairing a meeting goes back to the 17th century, so can hardly be called a piece of rampant PC.

Of course there is risible hypocrisy detectable in the PC movement, but at least some of it comes from urban legends industriously spread about by its opponents.

Bingley


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#4308 07/21/00 02:17 PM
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>Of course there is risible hypocrisy detectable in the PC movement, but at least some of it comes from urban legends industriously spread about by its opponents.

I agree. I have posted before on this subject - it is somewhere in the archives!

As far as I can see the term "political correctness" was coined by those people who object to it. It is a reaction to the political movement which pushed issues of equal opportunities into the limelight. It is a simple conflict between those who would like to see change and those who would not. Inevitably, those who would not like to see change are/were in positions of power. Those who feel that they are less well represented in the corridors of power are those who are likely to want to see change.

The key term for me is “equal”. Not more, not less but equal. Equal Opportunities has been through many incarnations and has contributed a huge number of words to the English language in its wake. Some things are largely accepted as the norm: It really isn't great to boast about beating your wife any more; In many areas of the Western world if you threw someone out of your shop because of their colour, many of the rest of your customers would walk out too. Others are still matters of dispute. Some are trivial personal likes/dislikes of certain words. Others are less trivial attempts to re-define roles in society. Here the big issue seems to be choice. In some families both parents have no choice but to work (or not to work). In other families it is possible to choose who carries most responsibility for earning/childcare/cleaning. In many Western countries it is no longer automatically expected that people run their lives on strict gender demarcations.

As long as we live in a world with involuntary female circumcision or where unwanted girl children are left to die or where very young boys are sent out with firearms to play their part in war ….. the examples are sadly numerous then we live in an “unequal” society.

If changing our language is one small chink in the wall, then I’m with it.

So what I'm saying is that "political correctness" is more than just a few words. Its a whole way of life and is part of a bundle of other things. If one disagrees with the other political changes then it must be irritating to be
expected to change one's language.


#4309 07/21/00 02:55 PM
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Jo--
Magnifique!


#4310 07/21/00 03:54 PM
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i think there is a lot of room for making fun of people who try too hard especially to call themselves something dignified, a la malvolio. i loved bart simpson hailing the post delivery with "here's the fe-mail man".
however, some changes fall into place, probably because the attitudes have already changed to prepare the way, as it were.
i feel that words like "wimmin" belongs to the former group, as does "person hole" for man hole.
"chair", or "chairwoman", is one of the latter i think, as is "waiter" (to cover both sexes).
unfortunately, we as people have held, individually or collectively, some pretty abominable beliefs. if we think removing the words that refer to those attitudes will change the attitudes we are fooling ourselves yet again.
"mentally retarded", "backward", educationally impaired" "one with learning difficulties" whatever we call something, if we don't respect the thing we are referring to, our discriminatory nature will catch up with us sooner or later.


#4311 07/21/00 06:03 PM
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PC-ness has been carried way too far, IMNSHO. The other day I actually heard somebody referred to as a waitron rather than waiter or waitress.

Words like chairwoman, policewoman, and firewoman are an abomination, just as is womyn. "Man" can just as easily refer to the race of man as it does to a male of the species. Do other languages have this problem or is the "Man" - man problem confined solely to English? The purveyors of PC lingo should be made to keep that in mind. What next? She's a member of the huwomyn race???

Reminds me of Rene Descartes, who wandered into a tavern one evening. The barkeeper said to him, "Good evening, sir. Would you care for a beer?" Descartes replied, "I think NOT!" and poof, he disappeared.

Of PC-ness, I think NOT!





TEd
#4312 07/21/00 06:45 PM
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What does IMNSHO mean and why does everyone speak in CAPITAL letters (like YCLIU) these days? Far more irritating than policewoman - at least it's a word!


#4313 07/21/00 06:47 PM
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>"mentally retarded", "backward", educationally impaired" "one with learning difficulties" whatever we call something, if we don't respect the thing we are referring to, our discriminatory nature will catch up with us sooner or later.

It does and we are the poorer for it.


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