"ese" suffix insulting/racist?

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIO.EDU
Tue Apr 8 14:13:18 UTC 2003

Unlike the other terms cited, "motherese" isn't pejorative; it's the term
child language scholars use for the kind of simplified and affectionate
speech that mothers (and others) use with babies.  It's also called "baby
talk" and, more recently and pc-ishly, "caretaker speech."  "Teacherese"
wasn't a good cite on my part; "educationese" is better (though "teacher
talk" has been used).

At 08:40 AM 4/7/2003 -0700, you wrote:
>Beverly's examples touch on the grain of truth behind the misguided
>"Sinaian's" rant.  This suffix has become productively extended from a
>meaning "language of" to a meaning "jargon of."  As such it usually carries
>a pejorative connotation of "bad style."  Thus legalese, bureaucratese,
>educationese indicate styles of written  English prose that is turgid by
>virtue of long, convoluted sentences and technical terms that the lay
>reader finds incomprehensible.  I interpret medicalese and teacherese as
>probably having similar connotations, even though I've never run across
>them before.  I'm not sure about motherese, which I have also not heard
>before, though it doesn't seem to fit the mold.
>The "Sinaian's" fallacy apparently lies in an assumption on his part that
>this extended use of -ese has contaminated the basic, neutral use which
>simply identifies the language of a country or ethnic group.
>Peter Mc.
>--On Sunday, April 6, 2003 12:38 PM -0400 Beverly Flanigan
><flanigan at OHIO.EDU> wrote:
>>Legalese, medicalese, teacherese, motherese ....
>                               Peter A. McGraw
>                   Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
>                            pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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