Global Language Monitor’s Ninth Biennial List of Top Politically (in)Correct Words for 2016 and 2015
“House Masters” No More
Follows the lead of Los Angeles County Purchasing Department in 2004.
Austin, Texas, 2016 — Harvard University captured the Top Politically (in)Correct Word of the Year Award in the Global Language Monitor’s Ninth Biennial List for 2016 and 2015.
Harvard won the award for supplanting the ancient and honored title of “House Master” for the rather amorphous yet politically neutral title of ‘faculty dean’. Harvard undergraduates live in residence dorms called ‘houses’ modeled on the colleges of Oxbridge and other Medieval European universities.
Of course, when Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael D. Smith announced the change, he responded to criticism that the change reflected a misunderstanding of the word “master” as possibly connected to America’s history of slavery, Not so, he contended. “None of these [contentions] could be farther from the truth”. Nota Bene: Harvard’s motto is a single word ‘Veritas,’ Latin for Truth.
The unanswered question remains, what, if anything, the university plans to do with the more than 4,000 masters degrees awarded at Harvard’s 365th Commencement on May 26, 2016, let alone the tens of thousands awarded over the last three centuries.
Of course, the Harvard administration’s decision was not without precedent, it followed the actions of the Los Angeles County Purchasing department. In computer terminology, “master/slave” refers to primary and secondary hard disk drives. But a Los Angeles County purchasing department told vendors in late 2003 that the term was offensive and violated the region’s cultural diversity. The county’s department of affirmative action undertook a hunt to replace it on software product packaging. After a public uproar, the county backed down. Payack said that while the incident took place in late 2003, the debate about it continued into 2004.
“We label these words and phrases Politically (in)Correct because of the fierce debate they often stir and incur,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “People spanning the political spectrum can find the phrases politically ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ depending on their particular views”.
The University also placed a plaque naming four slaves who labored for two of its presidents some of its buildings in the 17th and 18th centuries. The plaque ‘honored’ four people: Titus, Venus, Juba, and Bilhah. No surnames were ever recorded, while first names were adopted from those used in imperial Rome. Bilhah was listed in the President’s journal as a “Negro Wench”.
In a related case, a Harvard Law School committee proposed to retire the school’s shield (crest) that was adopted in 1936. The contention was that it was modeled on the family crest of the slave-holding Royall family. The Royall family endowed Harvard’s first professorship of law.
The shield, itself consists of a stylized Veritas written on three books with three sheafs of wheat. The connection to slavery is nowhere implied.
Historical Note: After slavery was outlawed in Massachusetts, the school continued to prosper from the mills throughout New England that used the cotton which the slaves produced as well as the oils obtained from the near extinction of the whales, as well as the land appropriated from the local native American tribes.
Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities around the country experienced disruptions about historical associations to slavery and crimes against Native Americans.
The Top Politically (in)Correct Words of 2015 -2016 follow:
- Harvard University changed the titles of the leadership of it Residential System ‘Houses’ from ‘Masters’ to ‘faculty deans’.
- Harvard Law School is dropping the design of its ‘shield’ because it was based upon that of the slave-holding Royall family.
- Non-binary — A legal term for a gender identity between male and female.
- Cisgender is a newly popular term for one whose gender identity matches their sex.
- Gettysburg College shows a video to incoming first-year students “who identify as male” (freshman) on “toxic masculinity”.
- According to 35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say: complimenting someone as being well-spoken.can be taken as a micro-aggression.
- A sign at Pomona College:advised students to “acknowledge your privilege” and “apologize if you’ve used words like “sassy”. Additionally, the sign claims that all white people are racist. “Understand that you are white, so it is inevitable that you have unconsciously learned racism,” states the poster. “Your unearned advantage must be acknowledged and your racism unlearned.”
- Indigenous People’s Day—which serves as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day in order to celebrate Native American culture and history—has steadily increased in popularity since its founding in the 1990s, with major cities, such as Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, and the state of Alaska. Brown Unversity faculty members endorsed a student suggestion to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The idea took a quarter of a century to arrive at the Ivy League university.
- The Patriarchy as a governing societal structure is to be questioned on all levels.
- Amherst College is dropping the “Lord Jeff (rey Amherst)” nickname because of Lord Jeffrey’s ties to eradication efforts kill Native Americans by distributing smallpox-contaminated blankets to them. There has been no word of changing the name of the college, itself.
These Politically (in)Correct words are automatically nominated to Global Language Monitor’s 17th Annual Word of the Year #WOTY announcement for Global English at year’s end.
The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion speakers (January 2013 estimate) GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 300,000 print and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.
About the Global Language Monitor
In 2003, The Global Language Monitor (GLM) was founded in Silicon Valley by Paul J.J. Payack on the understanding that new technologies and techniques were necessary for truly understanding the world of Big Data, as it is now known. Previous to this Payack was the founding president at yourDictionary.com, and a senior executive for a number of leading high tech companies.
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