Date: Wed, 2 Nov 1994 02:00:00 LCL From: "M. Lynne Murphy" <104LYN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA> Subject: Re: offending idioms bob lancaster said: > Of course, this sounds great, and civility and good manners are the foundation > of a society worth living in. But its universality here is disturbing. Are > we truly barred from any language that anyone might find unpleasant? No > one can feel good about being crippled, but should we really expunge the word > from the vocabulary? Do we stop reading Shakespeare and Chaucer, or Bowdlerize > them? Many people without hair don't like to hear the work "bald." What do we > call them? Hair Challenged? It is all too possible to sanitize language > until it's essentially dead, and it seems to me we're well on the way. i think that this is missing the point of sali's claim and the issues that i raised that he was responding to. no one said anything about deleting words from the language. we were speaking of the value judgments that go into making dictionary usage labels. my interpretation of sali's call for civility and politeness boils down to: some people are more offended by some words (for some reasons) than others. some words (e.g., "nigger") are given special status by outgroup members as the "really bad words", but other words can be used just as harmfully, sometimes through thoughtlessness. thus, it's not enough to have a list of bad words cited for their horrificness by the mainstream culture. somethings have to be done on a case-by-case basis, and the mainstream culture is a bad gauge of what offends people who are, in some of their facets, outside of the mainstream. lynne ______________________________________________________________________ M. Lynne Murphy e-mail: 104lyn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Lecturer, Dept. of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340 University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-8030 Johannesburg 2050 South Africa "Language without meaning is meaningless." --Roman Jakobson