October 2, 2009

Politically incorrect: Swine flu, saint

The Texas-based Global Language Monitor said its 2009 Top Politically (in)Correct Words include swine flu, black sheep and politically correct.

The Austin-based organization said its sixth annual survey of the English Language picked swine flu as the politically incorrect list-topper due to multiple governments and agencies referring to the virus as H1N1 to protect pork producers from losing business.

The list also included saint, which was cited after the Oxford University Press pulled it and related words bishop, chapel and Pentecost from its Junior Dictionary.

The group said black sheep and Oriental were placed on the list due to racial sensitivity issues while senior citizen made it onto the list after Britain's Loughborough University suggested replacing the term with older person in the name of inclusiveness.

Politically correct was itself dubbed politically incorrect on this year's list as some now consider the term derogatory.

Once again, we are seeing that the attempt to remove all bias from language is itself creating biases of their own, said Paul Payack, president and chief word analyst for The Global Language Monitor. At this point it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in any form of public dialogue without offending someone's sensitivities, whether right, left or center.