Top Politically (in)Correct Words of 2009
Swine Flu, Flush Toilet, Green Revolution, Minority, and Saint
named top politically (in)Correct words and phrases of 2009
The Sixth Annual Global Survey
Austin, Texas October 2, 2009 – Swine Flu, Flush Toilet, Green Revolution, Minority, and Saint have been named the top politically (in)Correct words and phrases of the past year according to The Global Language Monitor in its sixth annual survey of the English Language. Rounding out the top ten were the term Politically Correct, Oriental, Founding Fathers, Black Sheep, and Senior Citizen.
“Once again, we are seeing that the attempt to remove all bias from language is itself creating biases of their own,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of The Global Language Monitor. “At this point it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in any form of public dialogue without offending someone’s sensitivities, whether right, left or center.”
The Top Politically Correct Words and Phrases for 2009 include:
1. Swine Flu – Though hundreds of millions know of the current pandemic as Swine Flu, various governments and agencies for political motives ranging from protecting pork producers to religious sensitivity have chosen to address the virus by its formal name, influenza A(H1N1).
2. Flush Toilet – Flush toilets, toilet paper and toilet use in general are now coming under the watchful eyes of the green movement.
3. Green Revolution – In the 1960s the scientific consensus was the world was on the brink of a ‘Malthusian’ collapse. The Green Revolution changed all that, but now there are those who believe that the world has paid a “stiff price in environmental degradation”.
4. Minority – Talking about minorities is considered insensitive to minorities since this can make them feel, well, like minorities.
5. Saint – In addition to the word ‘saint,’ Oxford University Press has removed words such as ‘bishop,’ ‘chapel,’ and ‘Pentecost’ from the Junior Dictionary.
6. Politically Correct – The term politically correct has, itself, is now politically correct, Be careful how you use it.
7. Oriental – In the US considered offensive to Asians because the term is based on the geographic relationship of Asia from a Western perspective. In Europe (and in most Asian nations), however, Oriental is acceptable.
8. Founding Fathers – Though all the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence were men, this is considered sexists in some quarters. Founders, please.
9. Black Sheep – Though originally referring to the rare birth of a lamb with black fur, now considered ethnically insensitive; the same is true for Black Day, Conversely, terms like White Collar and Whiter than White all can be used to encourage a hierarchical value of skin tone.
10. Senior Citizen – In the name of ‘inclusiveness,’ the UK’s Loughborough University’s suggests replacing senior citizen with ‘older person’.
The Top Politically Incorrect Terms and Phrases for previous years include:
- 2008: “He Can’t Win” – Hillary Clinton’s coded reference to Barack Obama’s ethnic background as an insurmountable impediment to him winning the US Presidency
- 2007: Nappy-headed Ho — Radio personality Don Imus’ reference to the women on the Rutgers University championship basketball team.
- 2006: Global Warming Denier – Scientists not denying climate change, but the role of humans in the millennia-old process.
- 2005: Misguided Criminals – A BBC commentator attempts to strip away all emotion from the word ‘terrorist’ by using ‘neutral’ descriptions for those who carried out the 7/7 tube bombings.
- 2004: Master/Slave computer jargon – LA County re-labels computer documentation to remove this alleged slur that has been used for decades describing computer hierarchies.
The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.
About the Global Language Monitor
Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage and word choices, and their impact on the various aspects of culture with a particular emphasis on Global English.
President Paul JJ Payack’s latest book, A Million Words and Counting: How the English Language is Rewriting the World was released by The Citadel imprint of Kensington (New York) on May 1, 2009.
For more information, call 1.925.367.7557 or go to www.LanguageMonitor.com.