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June 24, 2014

What Makes A Word Offensive?

Using slang or derogatory words as an individual is one thing, but when a public organization, like a sports team, makes a public statement by their name...

...it is an entirely different situation.

Words change meaning all the time and our preferences and cultural norms and expectations change as well.

It seems to me that some names, like 'kike', 'queer' and 'redskin' are inherently (and intended to be) offensive.

I don't know about other countries of the world, but in the USA, for the most part, we try to be as inclusive and respectful of racial, ethnic and religious differences as possible.

This is not a matter of being 'politically correct' - but it is a matter of simple courtesy and civility.

Rude, racist and threatening terms have no place in responsible adult conversations.

We in the USA have had a continuing debate over the term 'redskins' as the name of a sport's team for many years now.

Here is the best article I have see so far on this issue - http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/06/a-linguist-on-why-redskin-is-racist-patent-overturned/373198/.

No word emerges into use without its own history. And every word acquires its meaning through it use and context.

I suggest that users of English speak like grown-ups and use full words and appropriate language. You will never go wrong by treating others respectfully.


Posted by mmorf at June 24, 2014 12:04 AM


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