I find very little to object to. The document sounds more like common-sense, plain-language suggestions rather than an edict for “tortured language.” As i see it, it doesn’t disallow gendered pronouns, for example, but it offers ways to avoid them.
I'm usually not a fan of newspeak or newfangled terms, but honestly a lot of these seem more scientifically precise for a public health agency's correspondence and reporting. Also helps the CDC staff coding the reports they receive for databases and statistical analysis.
They're not writing judicial opinions or briefs. They track diseases and make research grants. So "disabled" has become a legal term of art with different meanings under the ADA & the Social Security regs, for example, but doesn't tell researchers much about the condition.
As another example, even apart from the pejorative semantics of a word like "poor," for a public health agency, "low income" is more precise. Grad students at Ivy League schools might be "low income" but many people don't think of them as among "the poor."
I respectfully disagree. Much of this guidance sounds like more thoughtful, kinder usage. Be truthful: would you rather read about yourself as "Garner, one of the elderly farsighted, said ..." or "Garner, a 63-year-old who wears glasses, said ..."?
Unsure if you’ve taken the five minutes required to scan the release yourself, but if you have, then you saw how Ms Lowe cherrypicked all the (in her opinion) most eye roll-inducing suggestions. None of these person-first terms should be unfamiliar to those using inclusive lg
Reasonable concerns, Mary. There are rarely rigid, never-changing answers in our flexible language of English, but I'll mention that for centuries, we've had no problem saying "You are" (not "You is") to one individual.
The construction “the [group name]” is a hallmark of othering—because it implies that those who are a part of that group are inherently interchangeable.
This is why we don’t use phrases like “the Blacks” or “the Jews.”
And the same holds for “the elderly” and “the homeless.”
While we can quibble with some of it, aren’t some of the changes *more* precise—which is what we want in communication? I’m just as likely to chuckle about such terminology and wonder why it’s so important, but are the changes worth getting worked up about…at all?
I mean, is anyone really upset that we don’t use the terms “bastard” or ‘illegitimate child” anymore, instead of “non-marital child”? I don’t love all the changes, but I don’t think they’re so egregious (even if some are clumsy euphemisms). Big fan, not trying to be difficult.
I’m not posting this as a “gotcha”—I’ve read the rest of your entry on euphemisms. Just seems like it’s more worthy of a shrug than, “what is the world coming to?” and “why are they wasting their time on this?”
Most of it seems quite reasonable to me. And I'm old enough (almost a senior citizen) to remember when "senior citizen" was considered by many to be a silly new euphemism. Now people are decrying the idea of replacing it with the more established "elder."
There is no basis to prefer the clumsy and sometimes inaccurate (are we checking passports?) “senior citizen” to the concise and direct “elder” unless one is opposed to change for the sake of opposing change.
Why is it better to refer to a blind person or a wheelchair user as “disabled,” which carries very little useful information, rather than “blind” or “who uses a wheelchair,” which gets right to the point?
Pls ignore the culture-war nonsense. W/o getting into person-1st, none of these changes increase ambiguity. Many decrease it. E.g., “people who use wheelchairs” is more specific than “the disabled.” “Prisoner” suggests only the sentenced. What specifically is wrong w/ these?
The linguistic trend, for at least a decade, has favored usage that centers the person rather than one of their many characteristics or often-temporary circumstances. This is meant to avoid language that stigmatizes or marginalizes--even if it offends lexicographers. ✌️
Again, what’s wrong with just calling people what they (or the majority of them) want to be called? Person-first language is NOT always more respectful. Eg the majority of autistic people find identity first language preferable to PFL regardless of some organization’s opinion.
“Maternal inheritance” and “paternal inheritance” are very important terms and you can’t really practice human medicine without them. If the CDC is replacing “mother” and “father” with “parent,” is it also turning these two into “parental inheritance”? If so, science will suffer.
The CDC document is meant to advise public health workers on how to communicate respectfully with the public. No one is replacing the words "mother" and "father" in scientific contexts. cdc.gov/healthcommunic…
This helps, I grant. But the [science contexts] vs. [public contexts] boundary is permeable. Clinicians translate science for the public (their patients); for many traits and conditions they will need to talk with the public about inheritance from the mother vs. from the father.
That was my reaction too. It’s not a mandated style guide and certainly not a style guide for legal writing. All this seems to be doing is raising awareness about how we speak about others, so that we can do so more mindfully and inclusively.