’Politically correct‘ language (PC) is a notion which is used in many countries in order to discuss actual effort to restrict means of language. The aim of such restriction is to avoid disrespectful or abusive terminology and to protect political ideology and behavior. Moreover, the professor of social sciences Glenn Cartman Loury claims that the PC is an implied social praxis, concentrated on public expressions (Loury 34).
In nowadays world language has become not only the means of communication, but a device used to have an influence upon people’s mind and actions. In accordance with Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or Whorfianism, which insists on cultural change with the help of linguistic change, language constitutes thought as well as controls it. Other linguistic works point that choice of words has an important framing effect on the memories, awareness and reaction (Atkinson 14).
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Undoubtedly, politically correct language influences society in a positive manner by making it more tactful and sensitive towards diversity matters. The first kind of language that worth mentioning is the one which characterizes boundary of labor amidst men and women. Formerly, it was absolutely normal to add man-particle to the name of male-dominated professions. However, nowadays to emphasize the differences between occupation roles of men and women is politically incorrect, since it implies the gender inequality between these two types. For instance, it is reasonable to say “congressperson” as an alternative to “spokesman”, “police officer” as a replacement to the word “policeman” and “chairperson” instead of “chairman”. Furthermore, female professions are also given the other name, such as “flight attendant” alternatively to “stewardess” (Loury 35).
It is politically incorrect to use the word “man” as a suffix when referring to the whole humanity. The same problem happens with the pronoun “he” while in reference to any person, which is known to be a sexist language. In other words, using such words bolster up the implications of discrimination or other kinds of male’s domination over the female. It is of a great importance to resort to gender neutral language in order to avoid any kind of social or political humiliation. For instance, a word “bachelor” except for being a person who holds the first degree at the university has a meaning of a middle-aged unmarried man. However, it is inappropriate to utilize the same word for an older unmarried woman, which is why she was given a special term “spinster” (Atkinson, 15).
However, the authors of the book Language, Gender and Professional Writing Francine W. Frank and Paula A. Treichler claim that the pronouns “he” or “she” are the appropriate structures used for talking about individuals when pointing out that this or that kind of occupation is assigned either to a male or to a female (Francine, Treichler 78).
Taking into consideration the race and ethnicity, it is vital to keep in mind several words which are not likely to be used in order not to offend somebody. The most complicated things here are with those people whose skin is not white. To avoid the history of oppression, the words like “nigger”, “blackie”, “black Sambo” were modified firstly to “Negro”, then to “black” and finally to “African American”. Nowadays it is politically correct to name those who have emigrated from African country as “African American”.
Without any doubt, politically correct language increases the morality and reputation levels. For instance, to eliminate misunderstanding or abuse it is common to ask a girl whether she is dating or seeing anyone, instead of asking her whether she has a boyfriend. The issue here is about sexual orientation that expected to be freely chosen by every human in this world. The modern philosopher Michel Foucault wrote that sexuality is a development of modern state, commercial revolution, and capitalism. Sexual orientation is usually divided into three groups: homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual. One should avoid saying “gay” at all costs, since it is considered to be very offensive. In this case it is more appropriate to call them “lesbian”, “bisexual” or “homosexual” (Francine, Treichler 80).
It is also crucial to restrain naming people with physical or mental disabilities as “retarded” or “handicapped”. Such kinds of disabilities are biologically caused; nevertheless, when it comes to its consideration and analysis, it becomes the social aspect. It is politically correct to put the word “person” at the first place, such as “a person with disabilities”, but not “a disabled person”. In such a way one can avoid emphasizing the disabilities and not define people by them. It becomes widespread to use terms “physically challenged” or “differently abled” which are still considered to be offensive, but at least they are more neutral. Today it is also not accepted to call elderly people as “old” or “aged” since it makes them feel different in the society. The possible variants of euphemisms are “the golden age”, “the third age”, and the “senior citizens”.
According to Michiko Kakutani’s article in The New York Times, some books on bias-free language have already became available starting from 1991 when the first edition of Random House Webster’s College Dictionary established an appendix under the name Avoiding Sexist Language. This book involves some linguistic changes, such as “womyn”, which was created in order to avoid the notion of sexism by the ending “men” and “waitron”, which is used to avoid the possibility of discrimination between waiter and waitress (Kakutani 2).
The question remains incomprehensible, no matter whether such changes eliminate bias in human minds or whether people should keep trying to create non-male-based alternatives. The other question is whether the refraining from abusive expressions can give promotion to a more stabilized and peaceful world?
The answer is not as easy as it was predicted. Even more, it is rather controversial. One can say that using euphemisms facilitates the life of those to who they are applied. In other words, it means that those people do not feel special and they are treated the same way as ordinary people. However, if not to pay much attention to them, nobody will help. As Michiko Kakutani claims, if people call the homeless ”the underhoused” or some other way, it does not give them a place where to live. Similarly, when they call the poor “the economically straggled” it does not help them to earn more money to survive. On the contrary, when everybody pays less attention to the predicament of those people, it automatically makes the situation not that serious or not worth consideration (Kakutani 2).
All in all, the politically correct language tendency is extended all over the world. Its problems reveal the fact that every generation and every society has its own social transformation method which depends on historical, economic, and cultural features. Whether to use politically correct language or not is the choice that depends on each individual. However, one must keep in mind that no one should be offended and no one should suffer because of other people’s callousness. Political correctness does not change what one says, but changes the way something is said. It is the way to give people who are victims of humiliation or oppression more choices and freedom.