[Ads-l] "Oppressive Language List"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jun 27 14:37:09 EDT 2021


> On Jun 27, 2021, at 12:09 PM, Mailbox <mailbox at GRAMMARPHOBIA.COM> wrote:
> 
>> On Sat, 26 Jun 2021 06:48:02 -0400,  Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> Subject: Oppressive Language List
>> 
>> No comment:
>> 
>> https://www.brandeis.edu/parc/accountability/oppressivelanguagelist.html
>> 
>> JL
>> 
> 
> OK, one comment. Included is “rule of thumb” (https://www.brandeis.edu/parc/accountability/oppressivelanguagelist_violent.html <https://www.brandeis.edu/parc/accountability/oppressivelanguagelist_violent.html>) which has been vilified as politically incorrect since the mid-1970s, when it was said to have originated as a legal term for what was allowed in wife-beating.

Well, they do concede this etymythology “allegedly” derives from the (faulty) source they repeat, which is debunked in many places.  Surprised they don’t include “picnic” and “niggardly", which allegedly have racist origins (from different fabricated sources).  If the idea is that any expression that some people falsely believe to have such origins should be avoided, it’s hard to know which objections to take seriously. Should we avoid referring to golf because it allegedly derives from “gentlemen only, ladies forbidden”? But if that’s the motivation for entering an item on the list (a slur being in the mind of the beholder, not in the intention of the speaker), Brandeis should at least acknowledge that the alleged derivation is indeed an error and/or fabrication.   

LH

 
> This is a persistent myth; “rule of “thumb” had no such origin and there never was such a law. My husband and I wrote about this years ago on our blog: 
> 
> https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2009/04/rule-of-thumb.html <https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2009/04/rule-of-thumb.html>
> 
> It’s too bad that a university would help perpetuate such misconceptions.  More, for anyone who’s interested: Kelly, Henry Ansgar. “‘Rule of Thumb’ and the Folklaw of the Husband's Stick.” Journal of Legal Education, vol. 44, no. 3, 1994, pp. 341–365. JSTOR, 
> www.jstor.org/stable/42893341 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/42893341>
> 
> Pat O'Conner
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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