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Uses and Abuses of Language
1. PC is an abbreviation for politically correct. The phrase 'politically correct' originated in the 1980s and was originally applied to affirmative action in student admissions and faculty hiring, regulation of "hate speech", and encouragement of ethnic based student groups. It was also used by conservatives to refer to attempts to require multicultural studies and revise course work on Western civilization.
2. PC later became an all-encompassing name given to the movement to eliminate racism, sexism, ageism, and a panoply of other 'isms' and biases from our language and culture, to protect special interest groups and minorities and generally to redress unfairness and insensitivity in everyday relationships. The declared rationale was to prevent people being offended and ostracized.
3. So, you could say that PC is the continuation and expansion of the idea first set in motion by the Women's Movement in regard to sexism in language, namely, that if you could change the language to remove bias then you could eventually change attitudes that remove bias. Many of the new PC words are euphemisms or at least lack any negative emotive meaning.
4. PC language is the use of language that shows sensitivity to those who have been discriminated against or disparaged in the past. It is language that does NOT imply bigotry, sexism, prejudice, stereotypes, or to show inferiority or victimhood. Critics have charged that some of these linguistic changes have gone too far and surpassed common sense, and they have warned of a backlash against the use of PC language.
5. Random House has published a new dictionary that is gender-neutral, politically correct, and an English-lover's disappointment.
6. Examples of PC language:
a) African American - (black)
b) Native American - (Indian)
c) Latino - (Hispanic)
d) physically challenged - (cripple)
e) visually handicapped - (blind)
f) chronologically gifted - (old)
g) alternative dentation - (false teeth)
h) condition - (disease)
i) differently logical - (stupid)
j) womyn - (women) - [avoids perception of sexism in m-e-n]
k) Inuit - (Eskimo) - [Note that Inuit is preferred in Canada and that many Inuit consider 'Eskino' derogatory because the word was erroneously long thought to be 'eater of raw meat'.]
l) intellectual disability - (mental retardation)
7. An example of taking PC language too far and incorrectly is 'herstory' instead of 'history'. 'Herstory' distinguishes the study of women's affairs from the generic, all-inclusive 'history' (a word with an etymology that has nothing to do with gender but comes from the Greek 'histor', meaning learned or knowing).
8. Nowadays, conservatives bash liberals as being politically correct, that is, holding liberal viewpoints concerning matters related to race, class, gender, and ethnicity. The term 'PC' is often invoked to attack any point of view that conflicts with conservative preferences. If respecting the rights of religious minorities is 'political correctness', then that makes Thomas Jefferson and the First Amendment 'politically correct'.
PC on the Internet
wikipedia on PC