Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Magic Word Power


Do you believe in the magic of words, or does that come under the heading of truthiness?

In the 1970s, The Society For Crippled Civilians was renamed Goodwill. Why? Because there were no more crippled civilians? No, because we don’t WANT any crippled civilians, and the best way of eradicating the condition is to outlaw the term, right? We’ll call them handicapped from now on. No? Didn’t work? OK: we’ll call them disadvantaged. No luck. Their condition hasn’t improved. Ditto with discrimination against negroes. Maybe if we called them blacks? Or Afro-Americans? Or people of colour? Nope, nope, and nope again. Discrimination is still around.

Maybe we have to ban larger amounts of words, like the whole of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, or the whole of To Kill a Mocking Bird. You don’t think so? What about elision points, lots of elision points, or bleeps? It does seem to work for swear words. No? You can still hear them, right through the bleeps?

People are so sensitive. A New Hampshire community had qualms about a local fishing hole called Jew Pond. They renamed it Carleton Pond ( Don’t make me nervous. Is it no longer okay to use the word “Jew”? What’s the up-to-date version, anybody? Is it still okay to say “Latinos”? It’s a good thing we have a PEW report on that ( Apparently 51% of those polled were ambivalent when asked if they wanted to be called Latino or Hispanic. I hope they’ll sort it out soon. I mean, if I have to resort to elision points every time I think I might give offense, my next blog post might read:......

While we are on the topic of ethnic groups, let me tell you that Canada has no more Indians or even natives. I mean, they are still there, but they are now First Nations. Purge your history books! I mean, even porn sites are becoming cagey about terminology. Are you looking to join an orgy? No, you can’t. Not unless you use the right terminology. According to Caitlin Roberts who runs sex-positive workshops (am I phrasing this right?: It’s not an orgy, it’s a mixer. (

Help me keep my terminology up to date and tell me of any new word developments, spells, I mean, that make things go away.  


  1. Well said. I couldn't agree more. Did you mention the mentally-challenged? It's one of my favorites. What about the morally-challenged? That might be a new one. Joëlle

  2. This is excellent, Erika. All those little extras about each word, interesting but frustrating, none the less. I have a personal gripe about the word pansy flower and other meanings. I've written a poem about it and will email it to you.