10:00 AM The language nannies strike again

August 24, 2009

1 Min Read
Let's All Talk Bland

10:00 AM -- London's Sunday Times reports on the latest efforts to cleanse the English language of metaphor:

  • It could be construed as a black day for the English language — but not if you work in the public sector.

    Dozens of quangos and taxpayer-funded organisations have ordered a purge of common words and phrases so as not to cause offence.

    [QUANGO: quasi non-governmental organisation, quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation, and/or quasi-autonomous national government organisation. Let's purge that one, shall we?]

    Among the everyday sayings that have been quietly dropped in a bid to stamp out racism and sexism are “whiter than white”, “gentleman’s agreement”, “black mark” and “right-hand man”...

    The commission even urges employees to be mindful of the term “ethnic minority” because it can imply “something smaller and less important”...

    Many institutions have urged their workforce to be mindful of “gender bias” in language. The Learning and Skills Council wants staff to “perfect” their brief rather than “master” it, while the Newcastle University has singled out the phrase “master bedroom” as being problematic.

So many phrases, so many problems: How'bout "short shrift," which implicitly denigrates the horizontally differentiated; or "fat chance," which may hurt the feelings of lard-asses?

Or "boneheaded," which may offend quangos.

— Larry, Attack Monkey, Light Reading

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