Thursday 17 May 2012

The Magic of (politically correct) Words II

So there were gaps in Magic Word Power (my post of May 9). I apologize. How could I omit "mentally challenged"? It’s an area in which we have made enormous progress. There are no more poor students, have you noticed? And the solution was so easy. All we had to do was lower our standards. Everybody has a right to an A after all. I’m surprised they didn’t enshrine that in the Canadian Charter of Rights.

But maybe they should get the anthem right first: Oh Canada, our home and native land, true patriot love in all thy sons command! SONS? Are they allowed to say that? What about the daughters? And NATIVE – isn’t that supposed to be First Nations now? Oh, they don’t mean that kind of native. They mean BORN IN CANADA. But then what about the new Canadians, if that’s still a permissible term, because in my opinion it drives a wedge between people. It’s like saying “them and us”, right? I suggest we use the term BIRTHPLACE-CHALLENGED. The word may not fit into any lyrics, but it satisfies all three prerequisites for being politically correct: ugly, unnatural, and 2 inches (5 centimetres) long.

But I see I'm a latecomer to the question of politically charged language. George Orwell said it all in his 1946 essay, Politics and English Language. These euphemisms were "designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable."

More recently, Noah Richler wrote about the euphemisms of war in What We Talk About When We talk About War. Torture is now enhanced interrogation, and killing has become neutralizing. Some neutralizing is done by “friendly fire”. That’s so comforting. Can you imagine the horror of being neutralized by unkind fire?

And here’s (part of) a poem Linda Hutsell-Manning wrote, musing about global warming and the meaning of pansies.

Freefalling into Spring albeit with a Slight Diversion.

...Oxford concise says
one   a viola family plant 
two   informal   effeminate
or homosexual man but
why   here the defining point
pansy from pensée the
feminine noun use of
verb to think so there
it is French grammar
culprit of this dictionary
misanthropic phrase
but wait a minute
since pansies are resilient
tough why not demand
when powers that be
in word-filled rooms
assess which words in next editions be deleted
render this homophobic
obscure completely incorrect
colloquially cursed definition
obsolete  ps and fix the weather. 

1 comment:

  1. We don't even celebrate Canada Day anymore, its now 'Aboriginal Day'!