Friday, November 27, 2009

Word Power By Kristen Harris

Language is the method at which we verbally communicate with each other. Though verbal communication accounts for only part of the way messages are transferred, the practice and study of language is very important in our society. Word choices can have unforeseen effects on a listener because some words can carry multiple meanings, just as slang terms often carry degrading meanings. In Bias-Free Language, Rosalie Maggio gives examples of slang terms that help oppress those of who the term is referring. She states calling “Native Americans ‘primitives’ and ‘savages’ made it [seem] okay to conquer and despoil them.” I agree that by taking away a person’s value, by giving them a derogatory name, it helps to manipulate the way they are perceived by society.

Censoring our own speech to accommodate other people's feelings is becoming regular practice is our conversations, and it isn’t always helpful. The word man has multiple meanings. It can refer to an adult male and in a largest context, all human beings. Some women feel when man is used in place of human beings, the term is sexist against females. However, sometimes it is the most effective word choice, even if it alludes to male domination. We haven't done anything in our blog relating to the Word Police that I could find, but Andrew Heck posted a great picture in one of his posts, that seems somewhat related.

Michiko Kakutani in The Word Police wages a word-war against those who would try to contain the use of words to only those that are politically correct. Kakutani often exaggerates her arguments though with examples like “All the King’s Men should be re-titled All The Rulers People [and] Pet Cemetery [becoming] Animal Companion Graves.” These are amusing arguments, and she is able to persuade readers with her hyperbole. Using words to argue against, or for, the use of words is amusing. A great example of this debate can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. I am in complete agreement with this post. Politically correct terms seem to concentrate more on the "political," inoffensive side of language, as opposed to the "correct" side.