Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 16:33:21 CST From: salikoko mufwene Subject: Re: offensiveness In Message Tue, 25 Oct 1994 02:00:00 LCL, "M. Lynne Murphy" <104LYN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]> writes: >i'm interested in decisions re: offensiveness in dictionaries (not >sure how this string got started) and noted with alarm that the buro >van die woordesboek van die afrikaanse taal has decided not to define >any "racially offensive" terms. this troubles me greatly--it seems >that the way some south african dictionaries are dealing with the >legacy of apartheid is to try to shove some of its linguistic >ugliness under the rug. In my opinion, no offensive term is less abusive than any other. If a person resents any term used in reference to them, then users of the term should discontinue using it. It is a simple matter of civility. On the other hand, I deplore the decision of the Buro van die Wordesboek, because I consider a dictionary as a useful source of various source of information about dictionaries. I would find a dictionary more useful if it could also help me tell which particular terms are likely to offend (and under what conditions). What's the point of omitting racist terms if they are used anyway and people who do not know the connotations of particular terms would not have a way of checking why they may have offended somebody or failed to react in some appropriate way to the offensive speaker? Sali. Salikoko S. Mufwene University of Chicago Dept. of Linguistics 1010 East 59th Street Chicago, IL 60637 s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] 312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861