>"Excuse me, that term really bothers me, because..."

I'm with Jackie here. Where the probem lies, for me, is not with the use of terms which relate to race/gender/disability ... differences but the American obsession with litigation, which unfortunately is spreading to the UK. I'm told that no college lecturer is safe from accusation by the students if they make any "incorrect" remark.

I quite agree with twusm (oh no!) on a number of things. Anyone who checks the etymology of the words would know that niggardly isn't racist and history doesn't relate to "him". I remember a situation at a (very politically inspired) place I used to work. The Director (who prided himself on his careful language (but not, necesssarily the underlying attititudes)) said that he was getting in painters to "tart up" the building. Some of the staff pointed out that he may wish to rephrase that. There was a discussion about the implications of the phrase "tart up" and the day continued as before as it would if a more overtly anything-ist term had been used. No suspensions, no loss of jobs, just a discussion. Behaving in an overtly discriminatory way may have been treated in more serious way.

I've looked up various discussions about "herstory" and it appears that where it originated was an article which discussed the invisibility of women in history. This is a reasonable argument. The word was not intended to replace "history" merely to highlight a issue. That it was been picked up and carried further probably highlights the strength of feeling on the subject of a tradition of history written by men than anything to do with etymology.

Womyn is similarly an attempt to highlight an issue, not an attempt to universally replace a term. As we are around 52% of the population, it is as unlikely that we will have a single point of view as that the 48% of men will discard communism, monetaryism, liberalism, pessimism, ... and talk with one voice.

Like the other words we have discussed - productize - novelize - the words that resonate with people will survive, those that don't wont.

In the meantime what is needed is an atmosphere (like this, I hope) where words and attitudes can be debated without fear. Was it George Orwell's 1984 where everyone had to use "newspeak"? Perhaps it is Big Brother who we should fear, not the words themselves.