The Disabled. And other offensive terms.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Captain Kremmen, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

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    People don't like being summed up by one disparaging word which defines them by their disability.
    So, calling someone a Spastic, a Cripple, a Mongol, a Cretin, a Dwarf, a Dummy, a Madman, etc. is offensive.

    There isn't "A disabled", only "A disabled person".
    But there is still the term "The disabled"
    Why isn't "The disabled" offensive?
    It should be, shouldn't it?

    Is a word summing up a whole group of people focussing on disadvantages,
    less offensive than a similar word summing up an individual?
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
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  3. elte Valued Senior Member

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    I think you're right. Differently abled in such a way that one's abilities aren't valued by society seems like a better way of putting it.
     
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  5. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

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    Any term of differentiating such people would have the negative connotation of seeming to define their totality. But such terms are necessary, so we need something.
     
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  7. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    It presents us with a dilemma: how does a class of people held in common by nothing else but "disability" or "special needs" refer to themselves in a way that doesn't suggest disability? While many disabled people may prefer not to self-identify based on their being disabled, it remains practical in the effort to eliminate discrimination and to acquire government assistance to politically self-identify as such. Perhaps a realization that the label is only serving a social function for others but is not really defining who you are as a person?
     
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Careful there! "Differently abled" is a phrase summing up a whole group of people focusing on their disadvantages. So is "short" "tall" "white" "black" "fat" "skinny" - basically any word used to describe a group of people, someone's going to be offended by it.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There are all kinds of new euphemisms people come up with to avoid the Language Police. "Handicapable" is one of the more clever.

    In 69 years I've made friends with a lot of people with a wide variety of... er... "conditions." I notice when they talk about themselves they just use the clinical term and that's what they expect to hear from me. "I have ADHD," "I'm a high-performing autistic," "I use a wheelchair," "I'm dyslexic," "I bring my own food because I have fibromyalgia," etc.

    My favorite is, "I'm a recovering asshole." That shuts down all the questioning!
     
  10. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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    It would seem that there's no "right" way to say anything anymore which is a very bad thing to have happen. So I just try not to say what I think would be words that would offend or I'll even ask what I should say if I encounter someone who has an affliction or malady of some type.
     
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    On principle, the offensiveness of a term depends on the context in which it is used.
    The same term can be offensive in one context, but not in another.

    "And here at my birthday party, I also welcome my disabled / black / Muslim / [enter almost any label or category] friend Thomas!"
    is offensive, for example.

    On the other hand, checking on a medical chart that one is disabled, is not offensive.
     

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