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This conclusion sums up the book and how the chapters interrelate. The importance of respectful language is discussed, as a human rights issue. Prejudice is talked about as a problem that we will all face, hence the need for compassion. We close by exploring how offensive language can be at the root of social problems, but on the other hand, how it can also unite people and foster understanding, tolerance, and equality.
This chapter explores ageism and prejudice against age as revealed in our language. We look at childism/adultism, middle age, and intergenerational battles of Boomers vs. Millennials. We discuss the way we talk about growing older. We investigate stereotypes and negative attitudes toward age and ageing, ageism in the workplace, and consider ageism as an intersectional form of discrimination that will ultimately affect us all.
This chapter explores discriminatory language with regard to sexual orientation and sexuality. Starting with the story of playwright Oscar Wilde and his imprisonment, we look at the history of criminalizing same-sex attraction. Ways of talking about same-sex sexuality over time are discussed, both in-group and out-group, and the use of coded language, such as Polari. Slurs are treated, as well as the reclamation of some of these terms, especially queer and gay. We look at historical and contemporary cases of homophobia in language from popular culture and the media.
This chapter explores offensive language related to physical appearance and physical difference. We discuss perceptions of ugliness and beauty, and offensive language with regard to height, weight, clothes, hair color, and other physical features. We tackle stereotypes and derogatory language against redheaded people, bias against baldness and grey hair, fat shaming, thin shaming, and the claim that abusing overweight people is the “last acceptable bigotry.” The discussion includes historical cases of prejudice against appearance (e.g., the Elephant Man, ugly laws, freak shows, and human zoos) and more contemporary cases.
This chapter examines ableism: discriminatory language related to health, disease, mental illness, and intellectual and physical disability. We analyze stigmatization in speech, and look at metaphors and culturally insensitive words and phrases related to chronic sickness, psychiatric treatment, and disability (e.g., retard, spastic, stupid, handicapped, and lame.) We consider why some conditions are tabooed (e.g., cancer), why others are romanticized (e.g., consumption), and why the euphemism treadmill (when words become offensive and are replaced with new words that ultimately become offensive too) is a common phenomenon in this area of language. We look at words that are inclusive and preferred by relevant groups and communities, such as people with mental illnesses, Blind people, within Deaf culture, etc. We also discuss the debate regarding the use of person-first language versus identity-first language.
This chapter explores historical and current religious discrimination in language and its crossover with xenophobia and racism. We consider slurs, stereotypes, and demonization related to prejudice against various belief systems. The chapter looks at religions that are a minority (especially among immigrants) in the U.S., but with a focus on contemporary anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim prejudice (Islamophobia). Discrimination against Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and traditional religions is explored. We also consider the growing discrimination against non-theists (atheists), which is an often-overlooked area.
This chapter investigates historical and modern case studies, and media and popular culture examples of discriminatory language related to race, ethnicity, and national origin. Following a discussion of overt racism (especially slavery, segregation, and the treatment of Native people in the United States), we discuss several case studies that reveal hidden racism against various groups of people. For example, we will look at the 1992 Presidential campaign when candidate Ross Perot referred to his audience of African Americans as “You People” in a speech, and the racial controversy surrounding celebrity chef Paula Deen’s use of racial slurs. We talk about the problems with the slogan All lives matter, the saying playing the race card, and why people found Donald Trump’s Twitter comment, “I love Hispanics!” to be offensive. This chapter also examines linguistic discrimination, otherwise known as linguicism. We look at expressions of xenophobia, nationalism, and prejudice against immigrants and minorities on the basis of the language they speak or their accent. We look at cases in the media, within the education system, and the workplace. For example, we discuss Mock Spanish, Engrish, anti-Muslim prejudice, and we look at cases where people have been ordered to Speak English or get out of America!
This introduction discusses the debate surrounding offensive language both past and present. We look at the way people talk about being offended, or not being offended, and issues of free speech and social justice.
This chapter looks at discriminatory language related to sex and gender, in the past and present. We treat the “waves of feminism” and discuss how sexism is embedded in our language and society. We discuss sexist language in politics, the workplace, and such phrases as, locker room talk, Boys will be boys, That’s just how men speak, Not all men, and the Me Too movement. The concept of gender is explained, and transgender issues are discussed, including restroom rules, dead-naming, and misgendering, i.e., the incorrect use of pronouns as an insult. We consider contemporary cases and examples of sexism in pop culture and the media.
I'm not a racist, but… You look good, for your age… She was asking for it… You're crazy… That's so gay… Have you ever wondered why certain language has the power to offend? It is often difficult to recognize the veiled racism, sexism, ageism (and other –isms) that hide in our everyday discourse. This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age. Drawing on hot button topics and real-life case studies, and delving into the history of offensive terms, a vivid picture of modern discrimination in language emerges. By identifying offensive language, both overt and hidden, past and present, we uncover vast amounts about our own attitudes, beliefs and values and reveal exactly how and why words can offend.