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Monday, July 29, 2013

What's in a Name?

I would like to begin this discussion by stating firmly that I am not one to make fun of political correctness. I feel that those that do mock political correctness are simply folks who just don’t want to accept the legitimate rights of others nor do they want to admit that the rights of many people have been trampled on for many years. I would be more than happy to bury the whole notion of political correctness just as soon as everyone decides to accept everyone else who may be a bit different from them.

However, I’m not nearly as sensitive to the vicissitudes of political correctness when it comes to language as a lot of Americans. We seem to be changing our language so quickly in some cases that no one can keep up. When it comes to ethnic appellations I am perfectly willing to use whatever terminology the people of a particular group would like to use. If people would rather be called Native Americans instead of Indians I have no problem with that and it makes a lot of sense even though I used to call them Indians and I meant no harm. I think it’s ridiculous when some people go off the handle when someone calls someone from China an Oriental instead of an Asian when in fact oriental is actually a little more precise as Asia is an extremely large continent. I will defer to what is socially acceptable to the majority.

A lot of people of my parents’ era referred to Blacks as Negroes without ever feeling they were being disrespectful. I have used Black to refer to this group and I don’t think I am much of a racist and I have never used this term as a pejorative.  There are some who use the moniker African-American which again seems imprecise to me. Then there are those who want us to use People of Color when we speak about Blacks. I would wager everything I have that the person who coined this stupid name was a white sociologist at some dumpy university trying to one-up everyone else about how enlightened they are about race. “People of Color” seems to infer that the rest of us are without color but once again, if Black people want to adopt this name I’ll happily go along.

With that said I can never help from laughing when I hear the Spanish word for handicapped which is Minusválido (lesser-valued) and even to my insensitive ears seems a bit harsh. It’s not meant to be disrespectful here in Spain and there isn’t much controversy but I can only imagine that white, female sociologist who came up with “People of Color” positively losing her little mind over this term.

(I just noticed that this is post number 1,500 on Leftbanker) 

6 comments:

  1. The Spanish are starting to be aware of these things (well, sort of). A minusválido is now a discapacitado or even personas con necesidades especiales. Go figure.
    I think they have a new word for maricón as well... (joke)

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  2. It's almost never the term itself but the perception that bothers people. Sometimes we go too far in the making of amends that people don't even know what the hell we are talking about. "People with specials needs" was obviously coined by someone who doesn't care much for language.

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  3. Ha! El chiste de maricón se bueno!
    (Ojalá mi español está correcto.)

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  4. (Ojalá que mi español está correcto.) Dios mio!

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  5. Ojalá que mi español sea correcto. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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  6. Ah, ser. Thanks.

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