Monday, September 28, 2009

Critical Reading by Shayna Fehr and Billie Fleming

Prior to reading Rosalie Maggio's essay "Bias-Free Language: Some Guidelines" one would assume that this piece of writing would be structured and give informative rules on how to use bias-free language. On the other hand, after reading the title "The Word Police" by Michiko Kakutani, one would expect it to be satirical, not an information based essay like the former.
Both texts refer to bias-free terms frequently. An example not mentioned in either essay would be the word history. A bias-free term for history could be the-story or the-past. Another example could be semester. The unbiased term would be ester.
There are several excuses people may use to avoid using unbiased language. A reviewer in Maggio's essay says, "There's no fun in limiting how you say a thing." She counters this by saying that it does not take any more time to search for a bias free word, than to search for the proper spelling of a word. Another excuse is the fear of "losing" words, but Maggio responds to this opinion by saying that we can use our imaginations to find unbiased terms that will not destroy our language. A third example reveals that individuals are tired of being accountable to others feelings and do not want to "watch what they say." Maggio opposes this belief, by giving examples of how people have been choosing certain terms to appease society from an early age. The last example people use to avoid unbiased language, in Maggio's opinion, is the most important. This is the opinion that bias-free language will lead to "linguistic massacre." Maggio believes that by breaking down the barriers that bias language puts up, writers will be able to express themselves in greater capacity. Maggio offers more defense of unbiased language by presenting her theory that bias-free language is the way of the future and bias language is becoming prehistoric.

In Kakutani's essay he refers to a poem written by Maya Angelou. In this poem he mentions several different classifications of people, all of whom would be considered minorities. Kakutani implies that biased terms are directed to these groups of people and that is what they symbolize.

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