[Ads-l] "Oppressive Language List"

dave@wilton.net dave at WILTON.NET
Mon Jun 28 10:28:55 EDT 2021

I agree that the list is badly formed, but a couple of points:
1) The list was apparently made by students (undergrads?). It does not, as far as I can tell, come from the "university."
2) It's not clear if the list is backed by any disciplinary force. There is no mention of any consequences for using the proscribed terms. So, it doesn't appear to be a "free speech" issue.
So, it appears that this is a list of suggestions for being polite (i.e., avoid unintentionally offending anyone). Given that, the list is not so absurd. "Don't use 'rule of thumb' casually because there are some people who will take it amiss" is not bad advice. (I think the proscription against "irregardless" is silly and foolish, but I don't use it myself precisely because some people hate it; I don't have a problem in not using it.)
Finally, no one has mentioned what I think is the worst item on the list, the people-first approach to referring to people with disabilities. This is a much debated issue in the disability-rights community and there is no consensus. Some prefer "disabled person" over "person with a disability" because they consider their disability part of their identity; their disability is part of who they are as a person, and the "person-first" approach strips them of that part of their identity. (This is perhaps most strongly felt in the deaf community.) There is no right answer to this one, other than listen to what the the person in question prefers. This one doesn't fall into the "good advice" category.
-----Original Message-----
From: "Stephen Goranson" <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
Sent: Monday, June 28, 2021 8:14am
Subject: [ADS-L] "Oppressive Language List"

I (Brandeis BA '72) did not know some of these offended anyone. Sunlight best disinfectant, Louie? At least the page listing suggestions does reaffirm free speech. Will the Justice student paper no longer celebrate a sports win with "Brandeis Masters Bates"?


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

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

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