You Don’t Say…

 

Words have meaning. In order to effectively communicate with others, it is important to know the meanings and nuances of the words you are using. To assist with that, the CIO at Stanford University put out a list of harmful words that should be avoided.

For instance, let’s say someone ignorantly spouts out a problematic sentence like: 

He is an American.

Can you see the problems here? Would it not have been better to say:

They is a US Citizen.

First, saying American is wrong because the continents of North and South America have many countries, so using American to describe someone from the United States of America is sort of elitist. Makes it sound like the USA is more important than the other countries like say, Canada. Of course, another explanation could be that America is actually in the name of the United States of America. Perhaps that is why people in Canada are called Canadians and not Americans. That one is so silly that even Stanford had to rethink it after a few weeks of internet ridicule.

The other problem with our sentence is the use of the pronoun “he.” According to the guidelines, unless someone has specifically told you what pronouns to use, you should default to the plural “they.” So, since I never heard Joe Biden talk about his preferred pronouns, I should say, “They is the worst president ever,” that way, I won’t offend him them. Making a plural pronoun the default for singular individuals means you will be wrong 99.78% of the time. But I guess it is better to insult all normal people than one unstable person.

I suggest you go through the list for yourself, as I am sure there are words and phrases you would not expect. “Trigger warning” is a no-no. Seems that the same snowflakes that required trigger warnings get triggered by “trigger warnings.”

The word “black” is almost always wrong. Don’t say black hat, black mark, blackballed, black box, or blacklist. The only acceptable time to say black is when talking about race. Rather than “African-American,” you should say, “Black.” So, for those of us who never switched to African-American, we are the politically correct ones again.

It should be pointed out that this list of harmful words did not come from the Gender Study lab but from the CIO, the head of the IT department. Making verbal communication even more uncomfortable for your IT guys probably isn’t helpful. And the final bit of irony is that the list was put out by the Chief Information Officer, and it tells us not to use the word “chief” because it “trivializes both the hereditary and elected chiefs in Indigenous communities.” The thinking must be, “inclusive or not, I’m not leaving the C-Suite!”

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  1. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    This is one dumb ridiculous department.  Give them more time and they will come up with more words that will be deemed unacceptable.  Pretty soon there will be no accepted speech or language along with accepted definitions. Up is now down and down is up.  Everything and everyone can be offended by something. It makes you want to go live in a cave!  People going to Stanford and enrolling in tech studies should ask for a refund!

    • #1
  2. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Vance Richards: According to the guidelines, unless someone has specifically told you what pronouns to use, you should default to the plural “they.”

    Not sure how this came to be as the correct singular gender neutral pronoun is “it” not they.

    • #2
  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Should we give every podcast a “Stanford Score” with every posting?

    • #3
  4. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Edit:

    Was going to link to this (“Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay”) but we doubt it’s acceptable to the linked article.

    Isn’t it queer that some words are just absent.  Doesn’t seem like such a great list at all, considering that they recommend against African-American.

    Was thinking about commenting on our inability to find the word Lesbian, but we didn’t know the best words to use.

     

    • #4
  5. Autistic License Coolidge
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    “Yeah, no”

    This phrase alone might just save us.  

    • #5
  6. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    This is one dumb ridiculous department. Give them more time and they will come up with more words that will be deemed unacceptable. Pretty soon there will be no accepted speech or language along with accepted definitions. Up is now down and down is up. Everything and everyone can be offended by something. It makes you want to go live in a cave! People going to Stanford and enrolling in tech studies should ask for a refund!

    Those Administrators have to do something to fill the hours in their work day. Didn’t I read recently that the current ratio of administrators to students is approximately 1:1?

    • #6
  7. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Instead of “Stanford University”, say “Bay Area Bozo Asylum” or just “Clownville”.

    • #7
  8. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    This is one dumb ridiculous department. Give them more time and they will come up with more words that will be deemed unacceptable. Pretty soon there will be no accepted speech or language along with accepted definitions. Up is now down and down is up. Everything and everyone can be offended by something. It makes you want to go live in a cave! People going to Stanford and enrolling in tech studies should ask for a refund!

    Those Administrators have to do something to fill the hours in their work day. Didn’t I read recently that the current ratio of administrators to students is approximately 1:1?

    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    • #8
  9. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    What is the current politically correct synonym for “downsized”?

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    What is the current politically correct synonym for “downsized”?

    I recently saw someone refer to layoffs as “work force reductions.”

    As for the excessive number of administrators, when schools take money from the state and/or federal government, that money comes with thousands of strings attached. You need a lot of administrative help just to comply. A truly independent private school could focus on teaching and do so at a better price point. I believe a handful of those exist.

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    What is the current politically correct synonym for “downsized”?

    I recently saw someone refer to layoffs as “work force reductions.”

    As for the excessive number of administrators, when schools take money from the state and/or federal government, that money comes with thousands of strings attached. You need a lot of administrative help just to comply. A truly independent private school could focus on teaching and do so at a better price point. I believe a handful of those exist.

    It’s important for government to make those schools as unaffordable as possible.  

    • #11
  12. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    This is one dumb ridiculous department. Give them more time and they will come up with more words that will be deemed unacceptable. Pretty soon there will be no accepted speech or language along with accepted definitions. Up is now down and down is up. Everything and everyone can be offended by something. It makes you want to go live in a cave! People going to Stanford and enrolling in tech studies should ask for a refund!

    Those Administrators have to do something to fill the hours in their work day. Didn’t I read recently that the current ratio of administrators to students is approximately 1:1?

    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    90% of them could be disposed of with benefit.

    • #12
  13. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    The chief guy of my local black community, who is an American citizen, thought it quite a gyp that they aborted their lame, crazy, dumb list instead of going balls to the wall to defend it. That would´ve been a hoot. As a representative of the German-Swiss community, allow me also to express a gallon or two of faux outrage that they neglected to include “Kraut” and “Gerry” on their list.

    • #13
  14. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    What is the current politically correct synonym for “downsized”?

    I recently saw someone refer to layoffs as “work force reductions.”

    As for the excessive number of administrators, when schools take money from the state and/or federal government, that money comes with thousands of strings attached. You need a lot of administrative help just to comply. A truly independent private school could focus on teaching and do so at a better price point. I believe a handful of those exist.

    Hillsdale. Any others?

    • #14
  15. Ben Sears Member
    Ben Sears
    @BenMSYS

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    What is the current politically correct synonym for “downsized”?

    Person who has been downsized is preferred as “Using person-first language helps to not define people by just one of their characteristics.” For now at least. The persons who scold will never be satisfied. 

    • #15
  16. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Ben Sears (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    90% of them could be disposed of without loss.

    What is the current politically correct synonym for “downsized”?

    Person who has been downsized is preferred as “Using person-first language helps to not define people by just one of their characteristics.” For now at least. The persons who scold will never be satisfied.

    The scolding is for the narcissistic gratification of the scolder, serving no other purpose. In a broader social context, it prevents the scolder from bonding with or, shudder, reproducing with, sapients. 

    • #16
  17. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Instead of:  paraplegic

    consider using:  person with a spinal cord injury, person who is paralyzed

    Context:

    This term generalizes a population of people while also implying that people with disabilities are not capable

    OK, as boring/uncool [check  page 3 to see what I’m substituting for] as this whole list is, can someone explain how the word paraplegic “impl[ies] that people…are not capable”?

     

    • #17
  18. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    I’ve been thinking a bit about what it means to call someone an “American”.  We have here a couple of members [who are not US citizens] who, when talking about US politics say “we” and I wonder who “we” is; as in, WE need to refocus US State Department objectives, or, WE need to replace our military stockpiles.  That kind of thing?  Does “we” refer to everyone in the west?  Or just Ricochet membership?

    I once had a couple of contracts drawn up in which the Panamanian lawyer referred in print to my citizenship as of the “United States of North America”.  He didn’t accept that the true name of the USA was “United States of America” and said that there are a lot of countries in America, and this is to differentiate the US from any other countries in the American continents.

    And I was thinking, Is there any other country that has “America” in its name with which the USA could be confused?

    I don’t think so.  Republic of Guatemala of Central America?  No.  South American Republic of Brazil?  No.  What does a Canadian answer when travelling anywhere in the world and he is asked, “Oh!  So you are an American?”  Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    [Added “who are not US citizens” in brackets for clarification]

    • #18
  19. Chuck Thatcher
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I’ve been thinking a bit about what it means to call someone an “American”. We have here a couple of members who when talking about US politics say “we” and I wonder who “we” is; as in, WE need to refocus US State Department objectives, or, WE need to replace our military stockpiles. That kind of thing? Does “we” refer to everyone in the west? Or just Ricochet membership?

    I once had a couple of contracts drawn up in which the Panamanian lawyer referred in print to my citizenship as of the “United States of North America”. He didn’t accept that the true name of the USA was “United States of America” and said that there are a lot of countries in America, and this is to differentiate the US from any other countries the the American continents.

    And I was thinking, Is there any other country that has “America” in its name with which the USA could be confused?

    I don’t think so. Republic of Guatemala of Central America? No. South American Republic of Brazil? No. What does a Canadian answer when travelling anywhere in the world and he is asked, “Oh! So you are an American?” Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    Somehow I think Xiden would say something different from what you’ve said.

    • #19
  20. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    The chief guy of my local black community, who is an American citizen, thought it quite a gyp that they aborted their lame, crazy, dumb list instead of going balls to the wall to defend it. That would´ve been a hoot. As a representative of the German-Swiss community, allow me also to express a gallon or two of faux outrage that they neglected to include “Kraut” and “Gerry” on their list.

    Instead of Kraut, consider using, “One who enjoys cabbage and starting World Wars.”

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others.  But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    • #21
  22. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I’ve been thinking a bit about what it means to call someone an “American”. We have here a couple of members who when talking about US politics say “we” and I wonder who “we” is; as in, WE need to refocus US State Department objectives, or, WE need to replace our military stockpiles. That kind of thing? Does “we” refer to everyone in the west? Or just Ricochet membership?

    I once had a couple of contracts drawn up in which the Panamanian lawyer referred in print to my citizenship as of the “United States of North America”. He didn’t accept that the true name of the USA was “United States of America” and said that there are a lot of countries in America, and this is to differentiate the US from any other countries the the American continents.

    And I was thinking, Is there any other country that has “America” in its name with which the USA could be confused?

    I don’t think so. Republic of Guatemala of Central America? No. South American Republic of Brazil? No. What does a Canadian answer when travelling anywhere in the world and he is asked, “Oh! So you are an American?” Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    In certain non-political but nonetheless left-leaning (in terms of membership) online discussions groups I’ve been involved in, I’ve recently seen a fair number of “America doesn’t mean the US, it could be anywhere on the North American or South American continents.  In fact, there really is only one continent, America, and it’s only US chauvinism that people think that people from the USA think North America is separate.  People from  Brazil or Argentina or Guatemala are all equally entitled to call themselves Americans.” 

    Most of these people seem to be European rather than South American, but that’s probably sample bias since there are lot more Europeans than South Americans on these boards.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    I’ve been thinking a bit about what it means to call someone an “American”. We have here a couple of members who when talking about US politics say “we” and I wonder who “we” is; as in, WE need to refocus US State Department objectives, or, WE need to replace our military stockpiles. That kind of thing? Does “we” refer to everyone in the west? Or just Ricochet membership?

    I once had a couple of contracts drawn up in which the Panamanian lawyer referred in print to my citizenship as of the “United States of North America”. He didn’t accept that the true name of the USA was “United States of America” and said that there are a lot of countries in America, and this is to differentiate the US from any other countries the the American continents.

    And I was thinking, Is there any other country that has “America” in its name with which the USA could be confused?

    I don’t think so. Republic of Guatemala of Central America? No. South American Republic of Brazil? No. What does a Canadian answer when travelling anywhere in the world and he is asked, “Oh! So you are an American?” Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    In certain non-political but nonetheless left-leaning (in terms of membership) online discussions groups I’ve been involved in, I’ve recently seen a fair number of “America doesn’t mean the US, it could be anywhere on the North American or South American continents. In fact, there really is only one continent, America, and it’s only US chauvinism that people think that people from the USA think North America is separate. People from Brazil or Argentina or Guatemala are all equally entitled to call themselves Americans.”

    Most of these people seem to be European rather than South American, but that’s probably sample bias since there are lot more Europeans than South Americans on these boards.

    Sure, but he US is still the only country with America in its name.  For now at least, that gives it dibs on “American”.

    • #23
  24. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America?  In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation.  I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs.  When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America? In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation. I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs. When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    I don’t remember where.  It could have been on the internet.  When I identify which country I’m from I say The United States and not America, because the Americas include a lot more than the United States.  Been doing that for decades.  But I sometimes find it not worth the hassle, and go along with the commonly-used America designation, at which point some Canadian is sure to pop out of the woodwork and point out that strictly speaking he or she is American, too.  Some people (including myself) just like to be difficult.  I still usually say “United States” or “The United States” when asked where I’m from.  But if they ask if I’m from America, I answer “Yes.” 

    I am well aware that Canadians generally don’t like being confused with those of us from the U.S. 

    • #25
  26. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America? In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation. I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs. When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    I don’t remember where. It could have been on the internet. When I identify which country I’m from I say The United States and not America, because the Americas include a lot more than the United States. Been doing that for decades. But I sometimes find it not worth the hassle, and go along with the commonly-used America designation, at which point some Canadian is sure to pop out of the woodwork and point out that strictly speaking he or she is American, too. Some people (including myself) just like to be difficult. I still usually say “United States” or “The United States” when asked where I’m from. But if they ask if I’m from America, I answer “Yes.”

    I am well aware that Canadians generally don’t like being confused with those of us from the U.S.

    Right.  If someone asks me what country I am from I would tend to say U.S. or U.S.A. or the United States, not America.  But I would certainly say that I am an American, not a U.S.A.ian.  And if someone wants to go through the show of pretending they don’t know what I mean by American, so what?

    • #26
  27. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America? In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation. I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs. When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    I don’t remember where. It could have been on the internet. When I identify which country I’m from I say The United States and not America, because the Americas include a lot more than the United States. Been doing that for decades. But I sometimes find it not worth the hassle, and go along with the commonly-used America designation, at which point some Canadian is sure to pop out of the woodwork and point out that strictly speaking he or she is American, too. Some people (including myself) just like to be difficult. I still usually say “United States” or “The United States” when asked where I’m from. But if they ask if I’m from America, I answer “Yes.”

    I am well aware that Canadians generally don’t like being confused with those of us from the U.S.

    So when a store clerk in France or Turkey or Viet Nam asks a Canadian “Are you an American?” what does he say?

    • #27
  28. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America? In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation. I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs. When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    I don’t remember where. It could have been on the internet. When I identify which country I’m from I say The United States and not America, because the Americas include a lot more than the United States. Been doing that for decades. But I sometimes find it not worth the hassle, and go along with the commonly-used America designation, at which point some Canadian is sure to pop out of the woodwork and point out that strictly speaking he or she is American, too. Some people (including myself) just like to be difficult. I still usually say “United States” or “The United States” when asked where I’m from. But if they ask if I’m from America, I answer “Yes.”

    I am well aware that Canadians generally don’t like being confused with those of us from the U.S.

    So when a store clerk in France or Turkey or Viet Nam asks a Canadian “Are you an American?” what does he say?

    Almost always Canadian, but it depends on whether a U.S. citizen is standing nearby where he can be annoyed by the answer.  

    • #28
  29. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America? In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation. I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs. When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    I don’t remember where. It could have been on the internet. When I identify which country I’m from I say The United States and not America, because the Americas include a lot more than the United States. Been doing that for decades. But I sometimes find it not worth the hassle, and go along with the commonly-used America designation, at which point some Canadian is sure to pop out of the woodwork and point out that strictly speaking he or she is American, too. Some people (including myself) just like to be difficult. I still usually say “United States” or “The United States” when asked where I’m from. But if they ask if I’m from America, I answer “Yes.”

    I am well aware that Canadians generally don’t like being confused with those of us from the U.S.

    So when a store clerk in France or Turkey or Viet Nam asks a Canadian “Are you an American?” what does he say?

    Almost always Canadian, but it depends on whether a U.S. citizen is standing nearby where he can be annoyed by the answer.

    Really?  Canadians are so nice.  Maybe I’ll use my special pronouns next time I go there.  They’re the same as English, but French.

    • #29
  30. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Flicker (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Does he answer, “No, but yes we’re technically in America” or does he just say, “No, I’m Canadian”?

    I’ve heard both, as well as others. But the most common is to just distinguish American from Canadian.

    You’ve heard Canadians answer this question to locals in countries other than those in North America? In some countries and some people’s minds, being an American has an unsavory connotation. I don’t know if this is still popular today, but when travelling, Canadians have a habit for wearing the red maple leaf prominently on their jackets and on their back packs. When I’ve asked them, they hint that this is not just Canadian national pride but pointedly is meant to distinguish them from being “Americans”.

    Well, aren’t Canadians universally known for being nice?

    • #30
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