Political Correctness

Revision notes on political correctness in the English Language. Suitable for AS English Language.

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POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
Introduction
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English provides the following definition of the
term political correctness: Political correctness is a language, behaviour, and
attitudes that are carefully chosen so that they do not offend or insult anyone
used especially when you think someone is too careful in what they say or how
they behave [ PC, politically correct]. Indeed, that is a language or behaviour
which is carefully calculated to provide a minimum of offence, particularly to the racial,
cultural or any other identity groups being discussed. Only a text which fully confirms
to the ideals of political correctness is considered to be politically correct. Although
this notion is not tied to the English language only, it is extremely important in the
English speaking countries due to numerous racial, political and cultural differences
which still thrive in such countries.
A brief history account of the term 'politically correct'
The earliest cited use of the term dates back to 1793, when it was used for the first
time by the U.S. Supreme Court. At that time `politically correct' meant that the
statement it refers to is not literally correct, owing to the political status of the U.S.
Back in 1912 the term was again used in senator Robert la Follette's biography, for
literary purposes.
The contemporary use of the term `political correctness' is believed to originate from
MarxistLeninist vocabulary, where it was used to describe a party line. Of course,
this term is adopted by other countries as well.
The modern concept of `political correctness' arouse in the 1970s and 1980s, in the
feminists right movements.
Explanation of the term
The concept of PC was based on the SapirWhorf hypothesis which states that a
language's grammatical categories shape speaker's ideas and actions. The objective
of this hypothesis was to bring people's biases into awareness, thus allowing them to
make more careful choices about their language and making them aware of the
things people may find offensive. According to this hypothesis a language's
grammatical forms control speaker's possible thoughts.
Apart from this, many linguists accept a more moderate version of the hypothesis
which states that the ways in which we see the world may be influenced by the kind of
language that we use. That would mean that, for example, sexists language promotes
sexist thoughts.
Taken the assumptions of both versions of the hypothesis, many words and
expressions are considered to be `taboo' such as the ones describing sex, bodies

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Therefore,
PC is applied to groups of people and professions in order to overcome all possible
social differences in terms of sex, age and race, In order to avoid possible offences,
PC introduces genderneutral jobs like: `line worker' instead of `lineman' and
`chairperson' which replaces `chairman'. Also, different disabilities are expressed
differently in PC. So, it is not PC to say `disabled' but rather `differently abled'.…read more

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VERTICALLY CHALLENGED instead of SHORT
HORIZONTALLY CHALLENGED instead of FAT
DIFFERENTLY INTERESTING instead of BORING
LEAST BEST instead of WORST
ALTERNATIVELY SCHOOLED instead of IILITERATE
SOBRITYDEPRIVED instead of DRUNK
ALTERNATIVE DENTATION instead of FALSE TEETH
UNIQUELY COORDINATED instead of CLUMSY
COSMETICALLY DIFFERENT instead of UGLY
OLDER PEOPLE/SENIOR CITIZENS instead of OLD, AGED, THE ELDERLY
PC language regarding the rights of vegetarians:
STOLEN NONHUMAN ANIMAL PRODUCT denotes products like milk, eggs,
honey, etc.…read more

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