Non-negative 1974 connotation of the word retarded

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 5 15:28:37 UTC 2012

On Mar 5, 2012, at 9:55 AM, Charles C Doyle wrote:

> I seem to recall a time when "retarded" was the polite term, having replaced "idiot," " moron," etc.  Then in the 1970s "retarded" gave way to "L.D." and other designations--all of them quickly stigmatized, until now we're left with the highly nonspecific "special."
> Charlie

Yes, a classic example of what Pinker calls the euphemism treadmill, which was identified (but not named) by Cicero.  There was also "dummy", which later became taboo on multiple grounds.  "Retarded" (at least when it started) is like "underdeveloped/developing (country)", implying that better days are coming.  I remember also when folks could joke about those
road signs.  And it all reminds me of Officer Krupke...

> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of W Brewer [brewerwa at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2012 12:13 PM-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Am cataloguing a stamp collection these days and ran across a USA ten-cent
> stamp issued in 1974 captioned Retarded Children Can be Helped, Scott
> catalogue no 1549. Here is a reference from the USPS site:   (quote) The
> 10-cent Retarded Children Can be Helped commemorative stamp was first
> placed on sale at Arlington, Texas, on October 12, 1974. This issue called
> attention to a national problem found in discrimination against children
> with mental disabilities. The stamp was designed by Paul Calle and was
> issued in sheets of fifty, with an initial printing of 140 million.
> Reference: Postal Bulletin (August 29, 1974). (end quote)
> (|sq=Scott
> 1549|sf=1)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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