Sunday, March 2, 2008

Politically correct words

Americans are obsessed with being politically correct so they won't offend anyone in any way when speaking on the radio or writing in a newspaper (They are also terrified of getting sued, which is a whole other chapter).

While taking a communications class a few years ago, we watched a video with comedian George Carlin that I still remember because it was extremely funny and right on. Carlin was naming some euphemisms for well-known terms:

bathroom tissue – toilet paper
directory assistance – operator/phone book
involuntary personal protein spill – throwing up
previously owned vehicle – used car
differently abled – handicapped
cerebrally challenged – stupid (minimally exceptional)
negative patient care outcome – death
hair disadvantaged – bald
sobriety deprived – drunk
involuntarily leisured OR temporarily outplaced – unemployed
possessing an alternative body image – fat
severe appearance deficits OR cosmetically different – ugly
economically disadvantaged occupying substandard housing – poor/homeless

Many of these euphemisms are commonly used in advertisements on TV. I also frequently see "an unknown person entered the residence subsequent to exiting his vehicle" in stories written from police reports insted of "a man left his car and went inside his house."

It my jobs as a journalist to translate what people are saying into plain English.

So while things that are too wordy are funny, they mostly just waste valuable time and space. Just say it the way it is, people! No cerebrally challenged man possessing an alternative body image will receive a negative patient outcome if you do.

1 comment:

Vickan said...

For the Swedish readers...

Fick höra av en journalistiklärare att svenskarna minsann också har liknande egenheter.

Undersköterska heter numera omvårdnadssköterska för att inte vara "under" någon, och städarna som blev lokalvårdare är nu hygientekniker.

Dessutom är sekreterare numera administratörer, på vissa ställen.