Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Word Police

YE4A Irene Lin 1094100007


So as not to cause deep resentment of some particular groups, for instance, racial or cultural groups, in language, the term political correctness appeared. For example, the use of “gender-neutral” job titles or the use of “the underhoused” rather than “homeless”, are sometimes referred to as “politically correct”. Through political correctness, people would like to create a society where racism, sexism and prejudice of all sorts do not exist.

Political correctness prohibits the use of gender-bias language and the like. Therefore, some linguistic mutations appear, for example “womyn” to instead of “women”. However, I believe that the political correctness movement carries its reform too far. It sometimes confuses people or has ambiguous meaning. Take an example from the article, “battered wife” is a gender-biased term and the gender-free term is “battered spouse”. Spouse means a husband or wife. The reader or listener would be wondering what you mean actually.

Secondly, political correct language or euphemism may distract attention from the real problems that exist in the society. Using “economically marginalized” instead of the poor, it does not really make people or the government pay more attention to those people. On the contrary, because of “prettifying” those biased words, those people may seem to be less poor but get less attention, too.

“Lazy Susan,” “bull market,” or “charley horse”, these terms seem to be related to genders. Someone who would like to boast their lack of prejudice wants to give up saying or using that kind of terms. As long as to find out the history or background of those words, that does not really have any gender-bias meaning behind. Those people might hold too extreme views toward that.
Still, I agree with the author’s view that makes changes of those words or terms do not really remove people’s prejudice against genders or races. Words may have little influence in it; however, aren’t those biased words were created by ourselves? We have prejudice against those groups and then we invented those terms to insult or humiliate them.


I would rather try to cast aside one’s bias or prejudice in mind than having changes of words. If we could treat every one, every gender, or every race fairly, those biased terms would not really make them feel harm or disgrace. Those linguistic mutations do not really have to be invented since men and women are treated equally. Racism, sexism and prejudice in the world and society would still be erased as long as we started to erase those things in our mind not from the words.

2 comments:

Teresa said...

Hi, Irene!
I'm Teresa from Portugal, a colleague and friend of your teacher.
I'd like you to read my comment just posted in Luke's message, so you can understand how I view things, but I'll add a couple of other here.
I agree with you that with political correctness people have stopped saying things by their "proper names". They try to invent pretty words to camouflage and soften reality, "distract attention from the real problems", as you well said. I think we entered a ridiculous phase by following the United States on this.
I sometimes think there's a sense of guilt in those who create these words regarding the 'status quo' of many things, thus, the idea to camouflage reality.
I like your comment very much. :-)
Best, Teresa

Esther Hhhh said...

Hi Irene. I'm Esther, from Valencia, Spain.
Anywhere in the world, the governments always try to distract the attention of the people, of the really important subjects, with others more showy, but more superficial, like the language, as you write. I think we have to pay attention to those false subjects in order to watch what they are hyding..
Kisses and if you understand some spanish, you will be wellcome to my blog. ;-P