May. 28th, 2010

vixenesque93: (autumn change)
The movements around PC language...well, they fascinate me. As any English major will tell you, there is not a piece of work we consider "literature" that would meet with 21st century standards of political correctness. Or more recently, the lyrics of most pop music (the bubblegum pop of the 50's and 60's is notoriously bad for this). 100 years ago people knew what the word "niggardly" meant, and used it in common language. 50 years ago "he" was a universal pronoun. 20 years ago we were "challenged". As in, I'm not short, I'm vertically challenged (or in the more extreme case-they're not "midgets", they're "little people"). Or, I'm not a bitch, I'm tactfully challenged.

Most recently (and when I say recent, I mean in the last five years or so, PC movements are slow to catch on) I've noticed a strong sentiment against using the term "lame" to mean something other than "disabled". Or "retarded" to mean anything other than mentally challenged. My own experience with PC language is as follows: during the 1990's, my mom was married to a man who was only a few generations removed from being on the paler side of a lynch mob. His parents and brothers thought nothing of telling racially charged jokes in mixed company, even when this company included non-white relatives on my mom's side of the family. Forget black vs. African American, I was just relieved when they didn't drop the n-word left and right. So I guess in some ways I find myself being rather forgiving of most non-PC language.

I view the usage of language as a form of etiquette, and will generally default to the most PC language I know of in mixed company (particularly if there are people there I don't know all that well). In private or small groups I'll follow whatever the common comfort level tends to be. To a degree, I do agree with the general statement that politically correct speech is polite speech.

Some people have complained that overuse of PC language will lead to the elimination of all speech. I don't buy it. After all, it wasn't that long ago that "shiny" only referred to the surface appearance of something. New words are adapted and re-used all the time, it's the natural evolution of language.

However, something that has always bugged me about people who insist on the most PC language possible is the element of classism involved. Generally speaking (and this is on my own experience, YMMV), the people who crowed loudest about being politically correct were college-educated, Caucasian, and generally came from one or more levels of privilege. People who didn't have their opportunities and were thus less likely to be aware of the need for political correctness (or too busy working three jobs to keep their babies fed) were looked down upon as a result. Classist much? Hell, I've had days where I envy people whose lives are so perfect and easy that they have the time and mental bandwidth to nitpick about language.

I consider it perfectly acceptable to use denigrating language in reference to yourself. So if I want to call myself a crazy fat cracker bitch, by golly I will.


vixenesque93: (Default)

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