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Bravo
11-11-2008, 11:56 PM
does anyone have any insight on why certain words describing races/ethnicites become passe, even offensive?

for example, does anyone know anything about why the word "oriental" is considered offensive to asians?

and anyone have an understanding of the evolution of colored to black to african-americans? why is colored considered worse than black? and why is african american considered more PC than saying black?

Shadow_Ferret
11-12-2008, 12:00 AM
I think they're both strictly American PC complaints, Oriental and Black. I think in other countries those are still both acceptable terms.

johnnysannie
11-12-2008, 12:02 AM
I don't know but I know that in my life, we have gone from the "correct" or "nice" term for African-Americans from colored to black to Black to African-American.

The whys and hows I don't know and probably won't.

Medievalist
11-12-2008, 12:20 AM
I think of it less as a matter of being PC than of being specific, and of courtesy. This is the sort of question that a dictionary can answer.

Oriental (http://www.bartleby.com/61/91/O0119100.html)

Colored (http://www.bartleby.com/61/2/C0490200.html) and Color (http://www.bartleby.com/61/85/C0488500.html)

African American (http://www.bartleby.com/61/77/A0127700.html)

Black (http://www.bartleby.com/61/22/B0292200.html)

robeiae
11-12-2008, 04:22 AM
I'm occidental.

rugcat
11-12-2008, 04:25 AM
A colored person is non PC.

A person of color is very PC.

AMCrenshaw
11-12-2008, 04:42 AM
It might benefit you to study The New Negro Movement (Harlem Renaissance); for whatever reason, I believe the intellectuals of that movement would have a lot to offer this discussion. For example, I wonder what someone like Claude McKay would say about being called African-American, when he is Jamaican.

AMC

benbradley
11-12-2008, 05:46 AM
A colored person is non PC.

A person of color is very PC.
I'm thinking the difference is how long the phrase has been around. The older a phrase is, the less "PC" it is.

I was looking for the "recycling paper" story further down this page, but the whole thing is an interesting read:
http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/pcjargon.html

Bravo
11-12-2008, 06:42 AM
For example, I wonder what someone like Claude McKay would say about being called African-American, when he is Jamaican.


i knew an aboriginal girl who got annoyed when people called her "african-american".

Medievalist
11-12-2008, 07:25 AM
i knew an aboriginal girl who got annoyed when people called her "african-american".

Yeah; that's not right.

Look, for me, there really are two criteria:

1. What does the person want to be called--this is a matter of courtesy. And, part of that, has to do with is the descriptive phrase/adjective important and appropriate in the context? Most of the time, it's not, frankly. Race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation--unless these are pertinent in the context, why mention them at all?

2. If it's appropriate, and courteous, is it accurate? My foster sister is from Palau; she's not African-American; -- she is Palauan, or, technically, Micronesian.

It's that thing my mom always says:

1. Is it kind?
2. Is it true?
3. Is it necessary?

MacAllister
11-12-2008, 07:28 AM
On the other hand, I've got to admit, I'm kind of groovin' on Pale American, or pigment-challenged American. Heh.

AyJay
11-12-2008, 09:31 AM
My understanding is that "oriental" is no longer PC because it has principally become a modifier for commodities like rugs and hence it objectifies people of Asian descent. And you wouldn't use the word "occidental" to refer to people of European descent. I guess it's basically an antiquated term. On the other hand, "Black" vs. "African American" seems to be a matter of taste. I know some people who prefer one over the other, based on how they identify culturally. As mentioned above, your best gauge is asking the individual how they identify themselves.

Nakhlasmoke
11-12-2008, 09:39 AM
It's country specific.

Certainly if you called a black person in SA African-American they'd think you'd lost your mind.

And Coloured here is an acceptable term for a racial/social group where the people come from a mixed background (Afrikaans, black, Malay), are predominantly Afrikaans speaking, and are often (but not always ) Muslim.

Bravo
11-13-2008, 07:52 AM
i think the problem comes in when you do not know what the other person likes to be called, but you have to describe the person to another individual.

"so i talked to your manager about this, and he said that this wouldn't be a problem"

"which manager"

"well he works during the day. he's tall, african-american..."

"he's carribean"

"oh okay. cool. yeah him."

black wouldve been better there i think.

maxmordon
11-13-2008, 08:16 AM
It's country specific.

Certainly if you called a black person in SA African-American they'd think you'd lost your mind.

And Coloured here is an acceptable term for a racial/social group where the people come from a mixed background (Afrikaans, black, Malay), are predominantly Afrikaans speaking, and are often (but not always ) Muslim.

Fun fact, until early XX Century the US census would catalogue every Latin American (except obviously white ones) as Negroes...

Lately, the government has been pushing on calling people of dark skin as "African descent", which seems baffling for me, since we never had "African-Venezuelan" or "Italian-Venezuelan" or whatnot... we were all just Venezuelans...

And yes, it seems to me that when a word becomes stuck in a time, it does sound old-fashioned which ends up related to racist... seems to me trough what I have seen, but I am not sure, that saying "African-American" in the US is now sign of 1) Black Pride (when spoken by a black person) 2) Politically-Correctness gone mad or someone trying to not to be offensive and failing miserably (when spoken by a white person)

Nakhlasmoke
11-13-2008, 08:33 AM
I think the funniest I heard was someone referring to Mandela as an African American,

Uh. No. Fail.

maxmordon
11-13-2008, 08:38 AM
I think the funniest I heard was someone referring to Mandela as an African American,

Uh. No. Fail.

What about the cases of Dutch descendent South Africans whose one of the parents is from United States being accused of joking when mentioning they are "African-American"?

Nakhlasmoke
11-13-2008, 08:43 AM
What about the cases of Dutch descendent South Africans whose one of the parents is from United States being accused of joking when mentioning they are "African-American"?

Oh boy. Yeah.

A fair few times I was told, while in the UK, that I couldn't be from South Africa 'cause I was white...

That kinda did my head in.

Medievalist
11-13-2008, 08:47 AM
I've been biting my tongue with respect to the phrase "politically correct."

I can't thand it any longer ;)

Originally--not now, but originally--"politically correct" meant a euphuism that made something bad sound, well, less bad.

You don't have lay offs; you have "a reduction in work force."

You don't have units of cell-destroying radiation; you have "sun shine units"

You're not short; you're "vertically challenged."

Notice that these are all borderline in terms of accuracy (I don't know about you, but I'm short. I just am.) They bury / hide / dress up negatives in an attempt to (deceitfully) make them sound "good."

I don't think Asian vs. Oriental, or African-American (used correctly) do that.

True PC language is inaccurate--and to my mind, is liguistic abuse.

Just sayin'

I know. It's too late; it's like rhetoric--people think rhetoric means "nonsense," or "empty of meaning."

maxmordon
11-13-2008, 09:02 AM
Oh boy. Yeah.

A fair few times I was told, while in the UK, that I couldn't be from South Africa 'cause I was white...

That kinda did my head in.

Same here, and what is more frustrating is that I was born here and my parents born here and my grandparents born here but since my grandfather's parents are from Spain and I am Hispanic White I have been called Portuguese, American, Italian, French, Spaniard, Jewish, Russian, etc. I am a Latino, carajo!. I am not even that white, like olive white...

Bravo
11-13-2008, 09:42 AM
Notice that these are all borderline in terms of accuracy (I don't know about you, but I'm short. I just am.) They bury / hide / dress up negatives in an attempt to (deceitfully) make them sound "good."

I don't think Asian vs. Oriental, or African-American (used correctly) do that.

True PC language is inaccurate--and to my mind, is liguistic abuse.

Just sayin'

I know. It's too late; it's like rhetoric--people think rhetoric means "nonsense," or "empty of meaning."

according to the dictionary definitions that you provided, these terms have come about in order to get rid of possible negative connotations.

i didnt really buy the negative connotations that they provided, but okay if the group is offended by it, i guess i'll use the term that they want to be called.

but african-american is in fact more inexact than simply "black", so hopefully there's no real problem with using it in everyday conversation.

Jcomp
11-13-2008, 06:33 PM
Black is still cool. It has a corresponding opposite: black & white. African American is a 700% increase in syllables. It's cumbersome and inefficient.

Bravo
11-13-2008, 11:30 PM
what i've noticed is that blacks arent really the ones that care about it, it's white people who think blacks would get offended by it who cringe when you use the word.

weird stuff.

Ruv Draba
11-14-2008, 08:50 AM
I can't say 'black' about people who are actually brown; it would be a lie. I don't like saying 'white' about anyone but albinos. And 'brown' is a description that can equally apply to nearly anyone. And beside, just about everyone has pink hands.

I get terribly confused!

PC is just the euphemism treadmill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism_treadmill#The_.22euphemism_treadmill.22) used as a political weapon. I favour being precise about meanings rather than faddish about phrasings. I believe that the only rational response to PC-authoritarianism is to immediately start a food fight. If you find yourself being menaced by PC-bullies, my suggestion is to carry a bag of cream buns and let fly.

Dawnstorm
11-14-2008, 10:39 AM
I can't say 'black' about people who are actually brown; it would be a lie. I don't like saying 'white' about anyone but albinos. And 'brown' is a description that can equally apply to nearly anyone. And beside, just about everyone has pink hands.

I get terribly confused!

I better not mention jelly fish and pineapples, then.

Oops...

donroc
11-14-2008, 04:45 PM
Back in 1949, I heard musician Slim Gaillard sing this parody of a hit song:

"The object of my affection can change my complexion from brown to teasin' tan ..."

Instead of the original lyrics ... "from white to rosy red ..."

Somehow, teasin' tan has a charming mischievous ring to it.

Certain_Entropy
11-27-2008, 05:22 AM
I inevitably always offend someone when I express my views on political correctness.

Has anyone seen Indoctrinate U, its a documentary about speech codes in US colleges. Despite having a little too much right wing bend, its actually an interesting watch.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=wJuQQcXKLWM

roncouch
11-27-2008, 05:48 AM
I wish the PC crowd would get a grip. I'd like to see hyphen-American eliminated - it's stupid and just perpetuates racism. We're either American or not. The "nots," if here illegally, should get the hell out leaving Americans only! (I'm talking US citizens here) I mean how dumb would it be for me to insist on being called a European-American?

Certain_Entropy
11-27-2008, 01:17 PM
see thats not a cool comment. considering the nation was funded by illegal immigrants and built on bones of a systematically decimated indigenous population. If anyone has the claim to be real American, its the Natives Americans.

roncouch
11-27-2008, 05:11 PM
see thats not a cool comment. considering the nation was funded by illegal immigrants and built on bones of a systematically decimated indigenous population. If anyone has the claim to be real American, its the Natives Americans.

"Touchy-feely" ramblings echoed by the PC crowd - clearly designed to heap guilt on decent law-abiding Americans are nothing more than devisive affronts to common sense.

DMarie84
03-04-2009, 10:43 PM
I just say I'm American. My family history has a great deal of "mixing" in it to call myself one thing: from Eastern European, to Cherokee, to African (and a bunch of other stuff). It's one thing to have pride in your heritage; it's another to get offended by not being called the "right" thing. Of course there are terms that are derrogatory, but I find it silly when people insist on being classified as one thing or another.

I also always found "white" and "black" to be kind of funny too. Last I checked, I'm not the color of paper and I've never seen a truly "black" person (dark brown, but not black). :tongue

talkwrite
03-05-2009, 03:29 AM
I find myself pulled into the "Who were the first Americans " debate more often than I care to admit. I am a 12th generation American and I speak and work as an interpreter in several languages. I so am constantly asked the question, "Where are you from?" that I can tell exactly when they will ask it. It comes right after the questioner has had a chance to see me and then hear me speak in their language and then another language. I am asked this question by Americans and , well just about every other nationality I have met. I have come to accept that people of any nationality expect everyone to fit into a nice and neat little category. This category suits their own needs and expectations of people. You have a certain appearance and so you must be a member of such and such society or ethnic group.
That is where the innocence of any interaction seems to end.
So when I respond with " I am about as American as you can get" the response is the tiresome falsely based claim that the pilgrims were not the first Americans.
I believe that the concept of original occupants has nothing to do with the concept of the founders of "America" or "The United States". The pilgrims arrived at an un named border less territory. There was no concept of North America or even a continental scope of autonomy. The colonists built the country we know today based on their value system and principles. They are the true founders of "America"
They were not the original settlers of this continent. The many Native American tribes lived throughout this continent all the way down into South America on their own self claimed and defined territories- until another tribe overtook them and claimed said territory for themselves.
And this same behavior is a factual component of our world today.

archerjoe
03-17-2009, 02:09 AM
When reading older literature, I often see terms that are now passe. One can't read John Steinbeck or John Updike or Jack London without coming across "Negro" or "Chinaman", etc. At some point in the future when terms like African-American fall out of favor, people will look at the writings of today and wonder "what were they thinking?"

I know native Americans who prefer to be called Native American and others who hate that term. I think most people really don't care what they're called as long as they don't perceive the term as negative.

Ruv Draba
03-17-2009, 04:14 AM
The issue here is not the meaning of the word (which hasn't changed), but of changing taboos around words. These taboos are not a phenomenon of the 20th and 21st centuries, but a general linguistic phenomenon dubbed the euphemism treadmill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism_treadmill#The_.22euphemism_treadmill.22) .

I believe euphemisms occur because people are uncomfortable with concepts in the first place, and try to bleach them linguistically. The issue here, I suspect, isn't what to call Americans of African descent but rather the fact that there's a residual cringe in talking about them at all. Calling such people 'African Americans' is, I feel, a linguistic way of bleaching social and historical difference. Which makes Political Correctness perhaps the most ironic of all ideologies because it's rooted in the very xenophobia it does endless backflips to try and correct.

Put simply, when differences are finally accepted I believe that the euphemisms will stop appearing.

Millicent M'Lady
03-17-2009, 04:21 AM
does anyone have any insight on why certain words describing races/ethnicites become passe, even offensive?

for example, does anyone know anything about why the word "oriental" is considered offensive to asians?

and anyone have an understanding of the evolution of colored to black to african-americans? why is colored considered worse than black? and why is african american considered more PC than saying black?

Originally "coloured" was used in a mostly derogatory manner by white people. It also makes no sense when you think about because everyone would be coloured if black or white. It changed to "black" to "black American" to be more accurate and then to "African American" because no one calls themself a "white American" do they? To label any ethnicity by race rather than cultural origins is offensive. Or, that's how it was explained to me!