Changing the Language, or Wording Doesn’t Make It So.

I have written several articles on postings related to Reform in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional areas rife for reform.

There has been a recent trend to “eliminate” bias in our language and history. I think that this is just another aspect of cancel culture and wokeism. I think this an attempt to water down actions being taken by the Left to destroy our country. I have included a few examples of the terms that they want to change. They also want to destroy our family, by eliminating the terms father and mother and parent. They want to eliminate the term rioting, as if this will make the actions taken by the left last summer to be less damaging to our country. As usual I will try to be as unbiased as possible in this article. So her goes nothing.

Biased Language Definition and Examples

Prejudiced, Offensive, and Hurtful Words and Phrases

The term “biased language” refers to words and phrases that are considered prejudiced, offensive, and hurtful. Biased language includes expressions that demean or exclude people because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, social class, or physical or mental traits. 

Bias in language refers to language that is uneven or unbalanced or not a fair representation, says the University of Massachusetts Lowell, adding that you should strive to avoid bias in writing and speaking because such language may contain “hidden messages” about the superiority or inferiority of various groups or types of people.

Examples of Biased Language

Bias is prejudice toward or unfair characterization of the members of a particular group, says Stacie Heaps writing on WriteExpress:

“Bias is so common in speech and writing that we often are not even aware of it. But it is the responsibility of everyone to become conscious of and write without bias.”

Heaps gives several examples of bias together with alternative (and unbiased) phrasing:

Biased LanguageAlternatives
If he is elected, he would be the first person of color in the White House.lf he is elected, he would be the first African-American in the White House.
He has had the physical handicap since he was 5 years old.He has had the physical impairment since he was 5 years old.
There are many elderly people in our town.There are many senior citizens (or seniors) in our town.

Be sensitive to the feelings of the opposite sex, minorities, and special interest groups says Cengage: Don’t emphasize differences by separating society into “we” and “they” by singling out minorities, particular genders, or groups of people such as those with disabilities and senior citizens.

How to Avoid Bias in Your Writing

Purdue OWL provides some examples of biased language with alternatives you could use to avoid gender bias:

Biased WritingAlternatives
mankindhumanity, people, human beings
man’s achievementshuman achievements
manmadesynthetic, manufactured, machine-made
the common manthe average person, ordinary people
man the stockroomstaff the stockroom
nine manhoursnine staff-hours

You have to be on guard against bias because it can so easily creep into your writing or speaking, but Cengage says it’s easy to avoid, as in this example:

  • Before a surgeon can operate, he must know every relevant detail or the patient’s history.

Remove the bias with just a simple adjustment:

  • Before operating, a surgeon must know every relevant detail of the patient’s history.

You can just as easily avoid bias in race. Don’t say: “Attending the meetings were three doctors and an Asian computer programmer.” In the example, Asian is preferred to Oriental, but why even single out this person’s ethnicity? The sentence did not specify the ethnicity of the doctors, who were presumably Caucasian.

Examples and Observations

Be on guard for these types of bias in writing and speaking:

  • Age: Avoid derogatory or condescending terms associated with age. “Little old lady” can be rephrased as “a woman in her 80s,” while an “immature adolescent” is better described as a “teenager” or “teen.”
  • Politics: In any election campaign, words referring to politics are full of connotations. Consider, for instance, how the word “liberal” has been used with positive or negative connotations in various election campaigns. Take care with words and phrases like “radical,” “left-wing,” and “right-wing.” Consider how your readers are expected to interpret these biased words.
  • Religion: Some older encyclopedia editions referred to “devout Catholics” and “fanatical Muslims.” Newer editions refer to both Catholics and Muslims as “devout,” thus eliminating biased language. 
  • Health and abilities: Avoid phrases like “confined to a wheelchair” and “victim” (of a disease), so as not to focus on differences and disability. Instead, write or say “someone who uses a wheelchair” and “a person with (a disease).”

Biased language can defeat your purpose by damaging your credibility, say Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu in their “Handbook of Technical Writing.” They add:

“The easiest way to avoid bias is simply not to mention differences among people unless the differences are relevant to the discussion. Keep current with accepted usage and, if you are unsure of the appropriateness of the expression or the tone of a passage, have several colleagues review the material and give you their assessments.”

As you write and speak, remember that “biased language insults the person or group to which it is applied,” say Robert DiYanni and Pat C. Hoy II in their book, “The Scribner Handbook for Writers.” When you use biased language—even inadvertently—you denigrate others, creating division and separation, they say. So, strive to use unbiased language, and you will show that as a speaker or writer, you are including all potential members of your audience without segregating and referring pejoratively to a select few.

25+ Examples of Biased Language

Examples of biased language are scattered throughout the English vocabulary. After researching hundreds of bias words (past and present), we found 25+ examples common enough to bring to your attention. Ongig’s Text Analyzer software, which flags these and many more exclusionary words, provides suggestions for alternatives to such biased words. We share those recommendations below too.

These 25+ biased language examples include:

  • gender bias
  • age bias
  • racial bias
  • disability bias
  • LGBTQ bias
  • ethnicity bias
  • former felons bias
  • elitism bias
  • mental health bias
  • religion bias

WHAT IS BIASED LANGUAGE?

But, first, what is biased language?

Biased language is made up of words or phrases that might make certain people or groups feel excluded or underrepresented. A sentence using bias can affect how candidates view your company. ThoughtCo.’s blog Biased Language Definition and Examples Prejudiced, Offensive, and Hurtful Words and Phrases defines biased language as:

“words and phrases that are considered prejudiced, offensive, and hurtful. Biased language includes expressions that demean or exclude people because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, social class, or physical or mental traits.”

You can still find the terms on this list of biased words in job descriptions, social media posts, marketing materials, political speeches, etc. Others have either already been put to rest or are on their way to being removed from day-to-day language.

25+ Biased Language Examples

Blacklist

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

Many terms used every day can contain potential bias. Words like “blacklist” are an example of bias language and imply Black is bad and White (e.g. “whitelist”) is good. A sentence using bias like “blacklist” might turn off Black candidates. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “Mail control and blacklist monitoring.”

Recommended alternative: blocklist

Note: Ongig’s Text Analyzer scans job descriptions (and more) for biased words like “Blacklist” (pictured below), gives bias-free language synonyms to remove bias, and shows a pop-up explaining why people might feel excluded or offended.  

biased language blacklist

Brown Bag

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

The Brown Paper Bag Test (aka “Brown Bag” test) was a form of racial discrimination practiced within the African-American community in the 20th century. The test involved comparing an individual’s skin tone to the color of a brown paper bag. The test was used to gain or be denied entry into certain clubs and organizations. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “You are expected to attend a weekly brown bag session with your team.”

Recommended alternative: Lunch and Learn Session

Cake Walk

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

The phrase “cake walk” originated from a pre-US Civil War dance performed by slaves for slave owners on plantation grounds. The dance was first known as the “prize walk”; the prize was an elaborately decorated cake. Hence, “prize walk” is the original source for the phrases “cakewalk” and “takes the cake”. Some people of color find this offensive because of its history related to slavery. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “You make managing multiple tasks with tight timelines look like a cakewalk.”

Recommended alternative: an easy task

Chink

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

The word “chink” is considered a racial slur (towards Asians) by many people, and using it in your job postings is not recommended.

Recommended alternative: a person of Asian descent

In June 2021, a video surfaced of Billie Eilish mouthing this anti-Asian slur while singing a song from Tyler the Creator. It caused quite the social media stir. Fans demanded an apology and they got one.

Christmas Days Off

Type of Biased Language: Religion Bias

Christmas is associated with the religion Christianity and some might feel excluded by you mentioning it.

Example of bias in a sentence:  “Flexible schedules, paid vacation, and Christmas days off.”

Recommended alternative: holiday days off

Colored People

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias/Ethnicity Bias

Describing a person or people as “colored” is considered offensive by many. People of color or POC was an alternative to this biased word. But now BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) is more widely used. 

Note: Our blog, BIPOC: The Hottest (Controversial) Word in Diversity? , touches on the POC vs Black vs BIPOC controversy. 

Recommended alternatives: People of Color, Black, Indigenous

Confined to a Wheelchair

Type of Biased Language: Disability Bias

Using “confined to a wheelchair” to describe a population might offend or minimize people who use wheelchairs. Using people-first language like “a person who uses a wheelchair” is more inclusive to people using wheelchairs. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “Including those confined to a wheelchair.”

Recommended alternative: person who uses a wheelchair, wheelchair user

Degree from a Top School

Type of Biased Language: Elitism Bias

Using a phrase like this might make someone who did not attend an elite school/program feel excluded.

Example of bias in a sentence: “Degree from a top school with strong academic performance.”

Recommended alternative: a college degree

Digital Native

Type of Biased Language: Age Bias

The phrase “digital native” is and example of biased language when used as a descriptor implying a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology. It may feel exclusionary to older people and increase the risk of age discrimination lawsuits.

Example of bias in a sentence: “A digital native with in-depth knowledge of Product Lifecycle Management.”

Recommended alternative: person passionate about technology

Elderly

Type of Biased Language: Age Bias

The descriptor “elderly” is negatively viewed by some people because it implies frailty. Other similar bias words related to the elderly include “geezer” and “old geezer”. “The elderly” which is used a lot in the medical field, among other places, is offensive to some. A neurologist at the University of Chicago says the word is as offensive as “imbecile” and “idiot”. His views on the word “elderly” are:

“My suggestion that we avoid the term elderly in medicine goes beyond the word itself to encompass all that it connotes: stereotypes, unwarranted impressions, and bias. This is essentially a human rights issue. Medicine is the science and art of individualised communication, evaluation, recommendation, and treatment. Each patient has the right to be treated as an individual, according to medical standards based on their specific age, general condition, and comorbidities. To label everyone above a certain age as elderly and to treat them identically defies this principle, which should be at the heart of medicine.”

Example of bias in a sentence: “Plans and supervises programs that will enrich the lives of the elderly.”

Recommended alternative: Another word for elderly is “older people”

English Native Speaker

Type of Biased Language: Ethnicity Bias

Using the terms “English” and “Native” together in phrases like “English native speaker” or “English Fluency Level: native” might make a person who speaks English as a second language feel excluded. This biased phrase is often found in job descriptions, and can easily be replaced by “fluent in English”. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “Excellent verbal & written English native speaker.”

Recommended alternative: fluent in English

Ex-offenders

Type of Biased Language: Former Felons Bias

Using the term “ex-offender” is derogatory and suggests the idea of a person as a criminal.

Example of bias in a sentence: “Experience working with unemployed, underemployed, displaced workers, noncustodial parents, ex-offenders.”

Recommended alternatives: formerly incarcerated people, returning citizens, parolees

Girls/Guys/She/He

Type of Biased Language: LGBTQ Bias

The term “girls” or “guy” might make some people within the LGBTQ community feel excluded when referring to a group of people. Assuming gender in a group is discouraged. A blog on Mashable about accidental transphobic phrases touches on these biased words: 

“When looking to be inclusive of all people, we often use the so-called gender catch-all “he or she.” But when making it a goal to be inclusive of all people under the transgender umbrella, it’s important to remember that binary pronouns don’t fit all genders.”

Example of bias in a sentence: “He/She will be a skilled marketing strategist.”

Recommended alternatives: people, teammates, them, they

Grandfathered In

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

“Grandfathered in” or “grandfathered” are considered biased by some and discouraged for their racial undertones. According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

“Grandfather clause — statutory or constitutional device enacted by seven Southern states between 1895 and 1910 to deny suffrage to African Americans. It provided that those who had enjoyed the right to vote prior to 1866 or 1867, and their lineal descendants, would be exempt from recently enacted educational, property, or tax requirements for voting. Because the former slaves had not been granted the franchise until the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, those clauses worked effectively to exclude Black people from the vote but assured the franchise to many impoverished and illiterate whites.”

Example of bias in a sentence: “The group welcomes candidates who are board-certified or grandfathered in.”

Recommended alternative: exempt

Gypped/Gipped

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

“Gyp” or “Gip” has ties to the mistreatment of nomadic Gypsies and is discouraged for its racial undertones. “Gypped” is commonly used as a term to describe being cheated or to have something taken away. 

Recommended alternative: cheated

Handicapped

Type of Biased Language: Disability Bias

“Handicapped” has been used to describe people with disabilities, but some might feel it minimizes their personhood. Using people-first language like “person with a disability” is more accepted. Another example is the switch from “handicapped parking” to “accessible parking” to be more inclusive. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “Genuine care and interest in elderly and handicapped people.”

Recommended alternative: with a disability

Homosexuals/Homos

Type of Biased Language: LGBTQ Bias

The terms “homosexual” and “homo” are considered offensive to many people in the LGBTQ community. The Guardian reported that Dictionary.com’s language referring to LGBTQIA people: 

“has been revised to change “homosexual” to “gay” and “homosexuality” to “gay sexual orientation”, with the dictionary saying that the changes would put “the focus on people … removing the implication of a medical diagnosis, sickness, or pathology when describing normal human behaviors and ways of being”.”

Type of Biased Language: gay person

Illegal Aliens

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias/Ethnicity Bias

“Illegal aliens” is considered a biased term with ties to both race and ethnicity bias.  “Illegal aliens” and its variations (“illegal alien”, “illegal immigrant”, and “illegal worker”) dehumanize the migrant community and should be avoided. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “Does not employ illegal aliens.”

Recommended alternative: immigrants

Long Time No See

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias/Ethnicity Bias

The phrase “long time no see” has been historically used to mock Chinese pidgin English and Native Americans and is considered offensive by some people. Lifehacker.org posted a list of Seven Words And Phrases With Racist Origins. “Long time no see” made this list. The article said:

“It might be surprising to see these seemingly innocuous phrases on this list, but they’re actually born out of mean-spirited mockery.”

Recommended alternative: it has been a while

Mankind

Type of Biased Language: Gender Bias

“Mankind” along with other terms that use the word “man” (e.g. “manmade” and “man the stockroom”) are considered by some to be gender biased language and might make people who are not men feel excluded.

Removing gender biased language and using another word for mankind is more inclusive.

Example of bias in a sentence: “It is our goal and mission to serve mankind.”

Recommended alternatives: Another word for mankind is humankind or humanity.

Man Hours

Type of Biased Language: Gender Bias

Similar to “mankind”, the term “man hours” is also considered gender biased language that may offend people who are not men. Words like “people hours” are not biased or sexist language examples, making them more widely accepted and a better man hours synonym. Another man hours synonym listed below is “staff hours.”

Example of bias in a sentence: “Approve all man hours under his/her area of responsibility.”

Recommended alternative: staff hours

Master/Slave

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

The terms “master” and “slave” are discouraged for discriminatory undertones related to times of slavery. Tech firms are among people who have stopped using “master/slave”. The timeline for removing master-slave bias is detailed in Ongig’s blog. The Story Behind “Master-Slave” Being Excluded by (Most) Tech Firms

Example of bias in a sentence: “Experience with master/slave architectures.”

Recommended alternative: primary/secondary

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias

“Peanut Gallery” is a common phrase that is considered biased language by some people. In the 19th Century, during the Vaudeville era, the peanut gallery was often the cheapest section of seats with the worst view. Peanuts were sold at these shows, people seated in the cheaper seats would sometimes throw peanuts at performers they didn’t enjoy. The peanut gallery was often occupied by Black theatergoers.

“Peanut gallery” suggests to some that those who sat in the cheapest section were ill-informed and gave unwarranted criticism. Vaudeville itself carries some racist history — it featured caricatures of Black people portrayed by white actors in blackface.

500 people per month Google the term “peanut gallery racist” (presumably asking Google if it is or not).

Example of bias in a sentence: “Part of the peanut gallery.”

Recommended alternatives: crowd, audience

Recent Graduate

Type of Biased Language: Age Bias

The term “recent graduate” if used in the wrong context, is a bias-word against older people.

Using this type of language for hiring in the United States and other countries with age discrimination laws, increases the risk of being sued.

Example of bias in a sentence: “Apply if you are a recent graduate.”

Recommended alternative: a graduate

Retarded

Type of Biased Language: Mental Health Bias

The term “retarded” is offensive to people who have a mental illness. “Retarded” and its variations were used historically to describe someone with an intellectual disability. The National Center on Disability and Journalism says:

“The terms “mentally retarded,” “retard” and “mental retardation” were once common terms that are now considered outdated and offensive. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a measure known as “Rosa’s Law” that replaced the term “mental retardation” with intellectual disability in many areas of government, including federal law.”

Example of bias in a sentence: “A minimum of four years’ experience working with retarded individuals.”

Recommended alternative: neurodivergent

Sanity Check

Type of Biased Language: Mental Health Bias

“Sanity check” is often used in day-to-day language and unnecessarily references mental health. It denotes that people with mental illnesses are inferior, wrong, or incorrect. A forum on GitHub called Ableist Language in Code: Sanity Check mentions there are less-biased replacements for “sanity check” including:

  • Quick check
  • Initial check
  • Confidence check
  • Coherence check
  • Soundness check
  • Calibration check
  • Rationality check

Example of bias in a sentence: “Line edit, copy edit, and sanity check draft content.”

Recommended alternatives: Double-check and re-check are also better alternatives.

Spirit Animal

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias/Ethnicity Bias

“Spirit animal” is a phrase used in pop-culture for describing something that represents a person’s inner personality. (e.g. “Rhianna is my spirit animal.”) “Spirit animal”  being used in this type of casual manner is offensive to Indigenous groups. This is another one of the examples of biased language that might offend people due to its racial undertones towards American Indians and other tribes whose cultures include spiritual animals, totems, and symbols.

Example of bias in a sentence: “The brand spirit animal, the guardian of values, and the curator of guest experience.”

Recommended alternatives: BFF, friend

Tranny

Type of Biased Language: LGBTQ Bias

“Tranny” is a culturally derogatory slang that might offend some people in the LGBTQ community. Genderkit.org gives some history behind the phrase, how it became offensive, and how some people in the transgender community are trying to take the phrase back for positivity-sake. According to genderkit.org

“”Tranny” was originally a term used by transgender people to refer to themselves. However, over time it started to be used differently – by people who did not consider themselves transgender, to refer to transgender people pejoratively. As a result, it is now normally considered a slur and to be offensive, but some people who adopted the “tranny” identity in the past still use it. Others have also attempted to reappropriate the term by using it to describe themselves positively.”

Recommended alternative: a transgender person

Tribe

Type of Biased Language: Racial Bias/Ethnicity Bias

“Tribe” is thought to have negative racial undertones towards African and American Indian groups. This bias-word is commonly used in pop-culture to casually describe a group of friends (e.g. “this is my tribe”). But “tribe” may offend certain people if used to describe groups outside of these cultures because it can promote misleading stereotypes. 

Example of bias in a sentence: “Ambitious yet humble tribe of warm-hearted consultants.”

Recommended alternatives: friend group, network

OTHER BIAS EXAMPLES — LINGUISTIC BIAS DEFINITION

Outside of the bias examples above, you might find linguistic bias in your JDs or anytime during the hiring process. But what is linguistic bias? 

A linguistic bias is defined as a systematic asymmetry in word choice that reflects the social-category cognitions that are applied to the described group or individual(s). Three types of biases are distinguished in the literature that reveal, and thereby maintain, social-category cognitions and stereotypes.

source: Oxford Dictionary

Here’s an example of linguistic bias related to job titles:

if someone says “This accountant is not boring”, this person most likely assumes that accountants tend to be boring & otherwise, this individual would have said, “This accountant is exciting”.

source: Linguistic biases, Dr. Simon Moss

HOW CAN YOU AVOID USING BIASED LANGUAGE AND REPLACE IT WITH BIAS-FREE LANGUAGE?

This list is only a small sampling of biased words and phrases. Along with the bias source example and resources listed below and in the blogs mentioned in this post, there are loads of links on the internet around biased language examples. If you are unsure, you can always ask a person which words they prefer.

How to Eliminate Biased Language from Your Communications

Every day, organizations use language in a variety of ways. They produce press releases, job announcements, product information, and advertisements for the public. Internally, they must communicate with staff about new benefits, job opportunities, and policies through brochures, e-mails, and other means. Moreover, employees communicate with one another on a regular basis. Each of these communications provides an opportunity for an organization to assert its values. Therefore, organizations that are committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion must avoid biased language in their communications.

Biased language may seem like a minor issue. Some may think that one or two words make little difference. In fact, the opposite is true. Researchers have found that job announcements that use masculine language discourage women from applying.  Race and gender bias in textbooks can negatively impact students. Customers may avoid companies that use insulting language. Because biased language matters, organizations take care to avoid it. Read on for tips on avoiding biased language in some common areas.

Avoiding Biased Language when Discussing Race and National Origin

Race can be a sensitive topic. Therefore, care should be exercised when referring to racial groups. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the latest terms. Currently, the proper terms for racial groups in the U.S. include African American, Asian American, and Latinx. (Latinx avoids gender bias that may come with the use of Latino or Latina.) Never use outdated or offensive terms (e.g., “Oriental,” “colored”).
  •  When in doubt, ask. Some people descended from the first North Americans use the term Native American. Others prefer American Indian. Some request that their tribal affiliation be used. When in doubt about which term to use, ask.
  • Avoid terms that subtly reinforce biases. When speaking about multiple racial groups that are not white, use the term “people of color.” Older terms such as “minorities” or “nonwhites” reinforce the idea that whiteness is the norm.
  •  Avoid pejorative terms. Referring to someone as “an illegal” is insulting. If the person’s immigration status is relevant, use the term “undocumented person.” Never refer to any immigrant as a “foreigner. 

Avoiding Biased Language when Discussing Gender

Gender-biased language is so common in the United States that we don’t often think about the biases the words carry.  Also, thanks in large part to transgender advocates, our understanding of gender is rapidly evolving. For these reasons, leaders and organizations must evaluate all communications for gender bias. Here are some guidelines:

  •  Avoid making casual references to gender. While it may seem normal to address a group by saying “C’mon guys,” or “Attention, ladies and gentlemen,” these terms display gender bias. Women are not “guys.” Moreover, some gender fluid people may not identify as ladies or gents. Therefore, it is best to use neutral phrases such as, “Welcome everyone,” or “Attention, please.”
  •  Be careful about pronouns. When preparing documents, avoid using “he” as a stand-in for all genders. Also, some gender fluid persons prefer to use the pronoun “ze” or a singular “they.” Be aware of and honor these preferences.
  •  Offer more choices. If you must ask employees or customers about their gender, go beyond the standard “male” and “female.” Include options for gender-fluid persons and those who identify with neither gender. Include an option for those who prefer not to answer.
  •  Review your job descriptions. Does your organization have positions such as “chairman” or “foreman”? Do postings refer to “manpower” or “manhours”? Women may react react negatively to such ads. Ask a team to review job announcements for gender bias or hire an outside consultant to do it.

Avoiding Biased Language when Discussing Sexual Orientation

In the past ten years, the nation’s understanding of sexual orientation has shifted. Our language patterns must shift as well. Here is some advice on writing and speaking about members of the LGBT community:

  • Use the correct terms. The proper term is “sexual orientation.” “Sexual preference” implies that one’s orientation is a choice. Gay is preferred over homosexual. Transgender is correct; transsexual is not. Offensive or derogatory terms should never be used.
  • Use the correct terms correctly. A man who is romantically involved with other men is a gay man. He is not “a gay.” Similarly, a person who has transitioned is a transgender person, not “a transgender.” Be aware of how terms are used.
  • Use “spouse” or “partner.” Forms or invitations that require employees, clients, or customers to disclose their marital status must be drafted carefully. Do not use terms like “husband” and “wife” in a manner that assumes heterosexual marriage (e.g., “Men, bring your wives.”)  To avoid this, use “spouse” or “partner” instead (e.g., “Spouses are welcome to attend.”).

Avoiding Biased Language when Discussing Disabilities

Those with disabilities have worked hard to dispel the myths associated with many physical and mental conditions. But language patterns have been slower to change. Here are some tips for discussing disabilities:

  •  Put people first. People are more than their disabilities. When writing or speaking, always put the person before the disability. (“John, who is visually impaired, walks to work each day.”)
  • Do not use language that unnecessarily praises or pities a person with a disability. “Oh, poor John, confined to that wheelchair.” “He’s so brave!” Comments such as these treat disabled persons like children rather than adults that are capable of leading rich and full lives.
  • Don’t joke about mental illness. “Her desk is so clean. She must have OCD.” “He’s so bipolar.”  “She’s crazy.” Unlike physical disabilities, most people with mental illnesses do not show outward signs of their condition. Though comments such as these may seem lighthearted, they can insult or shame people with actual mental illnesses. Such remarks do not belong in the workplace.
  • Who’s normal? Do not use “normal” as the opposite to disabled. Similarly, avoid the term “able-bodied.” If a distinction must be made, the term “non-disabled” should suffice.

Respectful communication is a hallmark of cultural competence. To communicate with respect, we must learn the language of respect. Avoiding biased language is the first step in the right direction. To learn more about language, bias, and cultural competence, enroll in the Equity Toolkit e-courses. The Equity Toolkit is an interactive, four-course online series containing essential, research-based concepts on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Opportunities to have discussions, with others (especially those from socially dissimilar groups) can also be helpful. Sharing your biases can help others feel more secure about exploring their own biases. It’s important to have these conversations in a safe space-individuals must be open to alternative perspectives and viewpoints.

Gender-sensitive Communication

Stereotypes

Stereotypes are generalised images about people within a society. A gender stereotype is a preconceived idea where women and men are assigned characteristics and roles determined and limited by their gender.

Stereotypes about gender often take one of two forms. One assumes all members of a category (such as a profession) share a gender, for example the assumption that all company directors are men and all secretaries are women. The other is assuming that all members of a gender share a characteristic, for example believing that all women love to shop or that ‘boys don’t cry’.These stereotypes hurt people of all genders by placing expectations on what people should be. 

In many cases unconscious cultural stereotypes will be expressed though the language we use, meaning people use these expressions even when they do not hold these assumptions. Repeating these stereotypes reinforces the assumptions at their core, therefore you should actively avoid stereotypes in the language you use. 

I need to speak to the secretary – is she in the office?

Tsyhun, Ask for a woman secretary, ShutterstockTip: Professions and occupations are often gender stereotyped. Take special care to avoid stereotypes when talking about people’s occupations! 

The following pages highlight some instances where you may come across gender stereotypes in language.

  • By using gendered pronouns.
  • Adding irrelevant information about gender in a description of an individual.
  • Assigning gender to inanimate objects.
  • Using gender stereotypes to describe objects or events.
  • Describing people of different genders using different adjectives (descriptive words).
  • Perpetuating stereotypes in non-verbal communication such as images and symbol.

Avoid gendered pronouns (he or she) when the person’s gender is unknown

When using a gendered pronoun (e.g. he or she), the speaker is assuming the gender of the person they are talking about. Often people use gendered pronouns even when they do not know the gender of the person they are talking about or when talking about a group of people that could be of either gender.

This practice perpetuates gender stereotyping by repeating commonly held expectations about the gender of people in certain roles.

Instead you should use gender-neutral language. A common way to do this is to use the plural ‘they’. This is becoming more and more common in standard English.

Examples

Gender-insensitive language
The number of years an electrician will spend training depends on what country he is from.

Gender-neutral language
The number of years an electrician will spend training depends on what country they are from.

Gender-insensitive language
Every nurse should take care of her own uniform and cover the expense herself.

Gender-sensitive language
Every nurse should take care of his or her own uniform and cover the expense themselves. Your boss needs to know he can rely on you.

Jacob Lund, The gender of my boss, ShutterstockJacob Lund, The gender of my boss, Shutterstock But my boss is a woman…Tip: Do not rely on “he/him/man” when talking about an individual in the abstract – this excludes women from the conversation. Gendered pronouns come in a few forms (he or she, hers or his, himself or herself, her and him).

Avoid irrelevant information about gender

When you are speaking or writing about occupations, do not provide irrelevant information about people’s gender. Doing this supports the stereotype that the ‘normal’ version of this profession is gendered. For example, saying ‘female lawyer’ implies that lawyers are normally male. 

For this reason terms such as female professor or male nurse should not be used. Instead you should simply use the occupation title with no gender description. 

Examples

Gender-insensitive language
The eco-action group chairman Moni Patel works closely with the chairman of the social action committee Matthieu Dubios to plan events.

Gender-neutral language
The eco-action group chair Moni Patel works closely with the chair/chairperson of the social action committee Matthieu Dubois to plan events.

Gender-insensitive language
Priti is a career woman*.

Gender-sensitive language
Priti is focused on her career.

* The term career woman is gender-discriminatory and should never be used. It carries ex-tra information that suggests it is unusual for a woman to be career-focussed and is insulting to women – one never hears of a ‘career man’.

Another common way that gender is included in writing about people when it is not relevant is through using gendered nouns. These are nouns which imply the gender of the person (e.g. policeman and policewoman). Avoid using these nouns to describe people and use something gender neutral instead (e.g. police officer).

Sirtravelalot, Example of a judge, Shutterstock

Sirtravelalot, Example of a judge, Shutterstock Tip: There is usually no reason to include someone’s gender when speaking about a professional – just leave it out! 

Examples of common gendered nouns and alternatives

Gendered nounsAlternatives
Businessman or businesswomanBusiness executive
Chairwoman or chairmanChair or chairperson
Female lawyerLawyer
Policeman or policewomanPolice officer
RepairmanRepairer, technician
Steward or StewardessFlight attendant
SalesmanSalesperson, sales clerk
WorkmanWorker
ManPerson, individual, human being
MankindHumanity, human beings, people, men and women
SpokesmanSpokesperson, representative
ManpowerWorkforce, human power, labour force, workers
CameramanCamera operator, for plural: camera crew

Avoid gendered stereotypes as descriptive terms

Avoid using words which imply a gender connotation to describe an aspect of a person or object. It is especially important to avoid doing this where the gendered term is used as an insult.

These expressions normally paint the feminine as the negative. Describing something as feminine is used as an insult, often to mean weak or ineffective. Using language in this way is sexist. Do not employ gender stereotypes to describe the way something is or the way the action is done.

Oneinchpunch, Scoring like a girl, ShutterstockOneinchpunch, Scoring like a girl, Shutterstock

Examples

Gender-insensitive language
Paul’s effeminate handshake did not impress his new boss, who believes salespeople need a firm handshake.

Gender-sensitive language
Paul’s weak handshake did not impress his new boss, who believes salespeople need a firm handshake. 

Gender-insensitive language
You throw like a girl.

Gender-sensitive language
You do not throw well.*

* This is the implied usage of the phrase ‘like a girl’ in English, to do something badly or in a silly or weak manner. Some campaigners are trying to reclaim this phrase to show the positive side of being ‘like a girl!’

Gender-insensitive language
The team taking part in the charity obstacle course who were scared of the cold water had to man up, and dive in at the first obstacle. 

Gender-neutral language
The team taking part in the charity obstacle course who were scared of the cold water had to be tough and dive in at the first obstacle.

Gendering in-animate objects

Assigning a gender to an inanimate object by using gendered pronouns to discuss it applies cultural connotations to characteristics. These connotations are related to gender stereotypes and help to perpetuate them.

You should use the pronoun it to talk about inanimate objects. 

Examples

Gender-insensitive language
The ship slipped her moorings.

Gender-sensitive language
The ship slipped its moorings. 

Gender-insensitive language
Delegates are free to make presentations in their mother tongues and translations will be provided.

Gender-sensitive language
Delegates are free to make presentations in their native languages and translations will be provided. 

Gender-insensitive language
Last month, France and her citizens woke up to snowfall.

Gender-sensitive language
Last month, France and its citizens woke up to snowfall. Tip: When personifying inanimate objects (i.e. for a cartoon story) think: what objects have been given a gender and is this based on stereotypes? It is also important to include both male and female characters rather than treating the male as neutral. 

Note this will be almost impossible in romance languages, where just about everything is gender specific. Are we going to change the French and Spanish languages.

Using different adjectives for women and men

Sometimes in English different adjectives are used to describe the same feature in men and women. There are also some words which – despite not having an explicit gender – have strong connotations that are strongly associated with only women or men.

This stems from the fact that some character traits, such as being ambitious, are considered by society attractive in men but negative in women.Tip: When describing a characteristic of a woman, ask yourself, ‘would I ever use this word to describe a man?’ (and vice versa). If not, then look for a term without gender connotations. 

Semantic non-equivalence

These are words in English that are supposed to be equivalent, but actually the female versions of the words have gained negative connotations over the years. You should think carefully about the connotations of words before using them. For example, consider:

  • governor – governess
  • master – mistress
  • patron – matron
  • sir – madam
  • bachelor – spinster 
  • host – hostess

It is not always easy to spot when adjectives are promoting gender stereotypes. The examples in the table below show some words to look out for and to avoid using to describe women.

Adjectives with gender connotations to avoid

Adjectives commonly used for women (derogatory)Better language
Bossy or pushy  Assertive  
Loose Having sexual confidence –no male equivalent 
Emotional or hormonal Passionate, enthusiastic, empathetic 
Ditzy Silly  
Frigid Lacking sexual responsiveness –no male equivalent 
Frumpy Dowdy and old fashioned 
Shrill High pitched, grating voice 
Hysterical Irrational 

Avoid using stereotypical images

We communicate ideas about the world not only through language, but also through the images we choose to use. A piece of communication is gender-discriminatory if the people within the images are only depicted in stereotypical ways (i.e. female home makers, male builders).

Make sure that that the images you use in your communication material do not reinforce gender stereotypes by including a wide mix of people in different environments.

Examples

The images on the left depict stereotypical images of doctors as male and nurses as female. In order to be gender inclusive, it may be a good idea to have more than one person in the images you use to go alongside images of people doing jobs.

Graphic-line, Nurse and Doctor, ShutterstockGraphic-line, Nurse and Doctor, Shutterstock

Stefanolunardi, Doctor and Nurses, ShutterstockStefanolunardi, Doctor and Nurses, Shutterstock

ESB Professional, Doctors and Nurses, ShutterstockESB Professional, Doctors and Nurses, Shutterstock

Monkey Business Images, Nurses, ShutterstockMonkey Business Images, Nurses, Shutterstock

Tip: Colours are often arbitrarily connected to one gender, such as pink for women and blue for men. When designing communication materials, check the colours you have used and don’t use colour as a shorthand for gender. 

Emojis

Many people use emojis (or emoticons) to express themselves when communicating electronically. Many of these emoji sets repeat stereotypes by putting men in active roles (sports people, or professionals) and only including women in stereotypical pursuits (cutting hair or dancers), or not including women at all. Some providers now include more options so that you can make more inclusive and gender-sensitive choices. When you use emojis remember these are also a way to make your communication supportive of gender equality. Tip: Make sure you are using the most up-to-date version of your chosen emoji software – this will give you the widest range of options which will help you make a gender-sensitive choice.

I am a male nurse, the terms Doctor and nurse are not gender specific.

Invisibility and omission – How language can leave women out of the conversation

The following sections address invisibility and omission of women in communication and propose ways to actively acknowledge and promote their visibility and inclusion:

  • Do not use ‘man’ as the neutral term
  • Do not use ‘he’ to refer to unknown people
  • Do not use gender-biased nouns to refer to groups of people
  • Take care with ‘false generics’
  • Greetings and other forms of inclusive communication

Do not use ‘man’ as the neutral term

The term man is sometimes used to describe the experience of all human beings.

However this practice ignores the experience of women as equal members of the human race and contributes to their omission from public life. It can have a real impact on their lives, for example if the word ’man’ is used throughout a job advert a woman may be less likely to apply.

You should not use ‘man’ to refer to the experiences of all people. 

Example

Gender-discriminatory language
Under the law, all men are equal.

Gender-neutral language
Under the law, all people are equal.

Gender-sensitive language
Under the law, all women and men are equal.

Tip: When writing about the history of human achievement it is very important not to use the male as generic, otherwise it would seem that all major advances have been made by men and women have not contributed anything to humanity’s progress.

Example

Gender-insensitive language
Fire is man’s greatest invention. ​

Gender-neutral language
Fire is humanity’s greatest invention.

’Man’ is cast as generic in several stock expressions; try rewording them to make them applicable to all people.

Gender-insensitive languageBetter language
Man in the street Average person  
Every man for himself Everyone for themselves 
Mankind Humankind 
To a man Every person 

Do not use ‘he’ to refer to unknown people

Using ‘man’ to mean all people collectively propagates the invisibility and omission of women; using ‘he’ to represent any given individual does the same.

Avoid using ‘he’ when referring to the generic experience of all people as this removes women from the common experience. 

Examples

Gender-discriminatory language
The responsible citizen will report anything suspicious he sees to the police.

Gender-sensitive language
The responsible citizen will report anything suspicious he or she sees to the police. 

Gender-discriminatory language
Each applicant must submit his resumé.

Aaron Amat, The applicant, ShutterstockAaron Amat, The applicant, Shutterstock Hmm, I guess it’s not for me.

Gender-sensitive language
Each applicant must submit his or her resumé.

Tip: Some people have begun to use gender-neutral pronouns in place of traditional gender pronouns. One example of this is ‘ze’. E.g. Ze, Hir, Hirs. Hirself E.g. ‘Ze does hir homework hirself’. This can be a way of including people of non-binary gender in the discussion. 

Do not use gender-biased nouns to refer to groups of people

Gendered nouns and adjectives used to denote generic experiences encourage us to view the world as mainly having relevance to men. The word ‘manmade’ equates the word ‘man’ with ‘human’. The term ‘postman’ suggests all postal workers are men. In a gender-equal society it is important to use language that recognises that these posts can be held by women or men.

Gendered nouns and adjectives should be avoided and replaced with gender-neutral terms.

Examples

Gender-discriminatory language
Manmade fabrics can actually require less man power to produce than natural fabrics.

Gender-neutral language
Synthetic fabrics can actually require fewer human resources to produce than natural fabrics.

Gender-discriminatory language
The forefathers of today’s villagers used the same methods for catching fish as today’s villagers.

Gender-neutral language
The ancestors of today’s villagers used the same methods for catching fish as today’s villagers.

Gender-discriminatory languageGender-neutral language
Policeman or policewoman Police officer 
Businessman or businesswoman Business executive 
Repairman Repairer, technician 
Steward or Stewardess Flight attendant 
Salesman Salesperson, sales clerk 
Workman Worker 

Tips:

  • English gives you the option to make generic terms apply to women as well, e.g. ‘landlord’ or ‘landlady’, but it is generally better to use a gender-neutral term for most professions.
  • When referring to a mixed gendered group you should avoid the phrase ‘the guys’ as this takes the male as generic and representative of the whole group.

Take care with ‘false generics’

Although gender-neutral language can be a way of overcoming the use of the male as generic, this form of language is not always appropriate. It may ignore key gender elements of the subject under discussion. Furthermore, although the language may appear to be neutral, custom may mean that in practice people continue to interpret a generic reference (such as ‘people’) to mean men.

Examples of gender-neutral language

In 2014, 14% of people aged 18-65 stated that they had experienced sexual violence in the previous year.

This language may obscure the fact that women are disproportionately exposed to sexual violence and result in support services not being designed in a way that takes this into account. For example, insufficient numbers of women doctors may be employed to examine victims. If sexual violence is a relatively uncommon experience for men, male victims may need extra support to come forward.

Better language (gender-sensitive)

In 2014, 23% of women and 5% of men aged 18-65 stated that they had experienced sexual violence in the previous year.

Lithuania is playing well today and likely to win the match. Lithuania’s women will also be playing tomorrow.

Appears to refer to people in general but actually refers only to men, due to the stereotype that men playing sports is the ‘norm’. In contrast when women play sports their gender will often be made explicit, as this is seen as ‘atypical’ (“Lithuania’s women”). This runs the risk of further entrenching common stereotypes. There is no ideal linguistic solution here. To challenge stereotypical thinking it is important either to mention gender when referring to both women and men in sports, or not to mention gender at all (including when the players are women). In this case, in order to avoid confusion it is probably easiest to mention gender in both cases.

Better language (gender-sensitive)

Lithuania’s men are playing well today and likely to win the match. Lithuania’s women will also be playing tomorrow. 

Consider

If all countries interpreted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as applying to all people, why was a separate human rights treaty on women’s rights (CEDAW) needed more than thirty years later? Tip: We recommend that law and policymakers always aim to use gender-sensitive language rather than gender-neutral language. Giving visibility to gender is an important way for public laws, policies and programs to reach out more effectively to all members of society. It may be that the gender perspective is not immediately obvious, but there is almost always an important gender dimension to all public policies.

Greetings and other forms of inclusive communication

There are many ways to make sure that all your communication material feels like it is aimed at all people, not just one gender.

When creating a piece of communication material, consider:

  1. Choice of voice-over artist. Consider if the gender of the voice-over is perpetuating stereotypes, such as using only a male voice to impart information. Aim for a mix of genders.
  2. Choice of photographs/drawings/images. Think about whether they are repeating stereotypical gender roles, or whether they only include one gender. 
  3. Gender of individuals given in examples. Try to ensure that the individuals in examples show a mix of genders in different roles. I.e. ensure that men are not always in positions of power in a given scenario.

Greetings

English speakers have traditionally been taught to use the male gender when the gender of the person they are speaking to is unclear. However, it is more inclusive to acknowledge that the recipient may be of either gender.

These are all addressed to ‘Dear Sir’, so nothing to do with me!

Instead of using Dear Sir, the gender-sensitive writer should use Dear Sir or Madam or Dear Madam or Sir.

How to Avoid Bias in Your Writing

Gender and ability bias in language doesn’t register for many people, but that’s often because many of them do not belong to the classes who have been subjected to the bias. For example, many writers persist in referring to our species, collectively, as man or mankind, even though several reasonable alternatives exist: the human racehumankind, and humanity. Most (though not all) are men.

“Get over it” is a common counterargument to the assertion that because half of mankind is womankind, a gender-neutral alternative is more sensitive to that fact; man and mankind, the reasoning goes, have sufficed for most of recorded human history — sorry, I mean “man history” — and everybody knows it refers not just to the breadwinner, the man of the house, the king of the castle but also to the weaker sex, the little woman, the housewife.

Get my drift? Get over it, indeed. Man up, and join the human race.

One justification for opposing gender-neutral language is that it can be so cumbersome. Why convolutedly change he, as a generic term, to “he or she,” or his to “his or her”? We all know he or his can refer to a man or a woman, and English lacks an inclusive pronoun. (Except that it doesn’t — but I’ll get to that in a moment.)

Yes, repetitious use of “he or she” or “his or her” is ridiculous, but it’s easy to mix it up with it, the magical indeterminate pronoun, or to alternate between he and she or his and her in successive anecdotes, or to pluralize a reference and use they in place of a specific pronoun.

Or — gasp! — you can replace “he or she” with they. Kill the klaxon, switch off the warning lights, and think about it: They has been long used as a singular pronoun as well as a plural one. But not everybody agrees, so be prepared for pushback if you employ this solution.

References to physical disabilities are even more fraught with risks to sensitivity. Such constructions as “confined to a wheelchair” identify people by their limitations, which is discriminatory. It’s more respectful to refer to someone who “uses a wheelchair.”

What about, simply, “wheelchair users,” or “blind people,” or “deaf children”? These phrases violate what’s known as the people-first philosophy, which holds that any reference to a person should emphasize the person, not their disability.

So, refer to “Smith, who uses a wheelchair,” “people who are blind” or “people with visual impairments,” and “children who are deaf” or “children who are hearing impaired.” And it should go without saying that references to a disability are extraneous unless it is relevant to the discussion.

While doing research for this article I came across software that detects bias. It is called bias detection technology by Symphony Talent. It is a ST DEI plugin whatever the hell that is. I think we have gone just a little too far with this anti bias trend.

Eliminating Words

1. ELIMINATE WORDS THAT EXPLAIN THE OBVIOUS OR PROVIDE EXCESSIVE DETAIL

Always consider readers while drafting and revising writing. If passages explain or describe details that would already be obvious to readers, delete or reword them. Readers are also very adept at filling in the non-essential aspects of a narrative, as in the fourth example.

Wordy: I received your inquiry that you wrote about tennis rackets yesterday, and read it thoroughly. Yes, we do have. . .

(19 words)Concise: I received your inquiry about tennis rackets yesterday. Yes, we do have. . .

(12 words)Wordy: It goes without saying that we are acquainted with your policy on filing tax returns, and we have every intention of complying with the regulations that you have mentioned.

(29 words)Concise: We intend to comply with the tax-return regulations that you have mentioned.

(12 words)Wordy: Imagine a mental picture of someone engaged in the intellectual activity of trying to learn what the rules are for how to play the game of chess.

(27 words)Concise: Imagine someone trying to learn the rules of chess.

(9 words)Wordy: After booking a ticket to Dallas from a travel agent, I packed my bags and arranged for a taxi to the airport. Once there, I checked in, went through security, and was ready to board. But problems beyond my control led to a three-hour delay before takeoff.

(47 words)Concise: My flight to Dallas was delayed for three hours.

(9 words)Wordy: Baseball, one of our oldest and most popular outdoor summer sports in terms of total attendance at ball parks and viewing on television, has the kind of rhythm of play on the field that alternates between times when players passively wait with no action taking place between the pitches to the batter and then times when they explode into action as the batter hits a pitched ball to one of the players and the player fields it.

(77 words)Concise: Baseball has a rhythm that alternates between waiting and explosive action.

(11 words)

2. ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY DETERMINERS AND MODIFIERS

Writers sometimes clog up their prose with one or more extra words or phrases that seem to determine narrowly or to modify the meaning of a noun but don’t actually add to the meaning of the sentence. Although such words and phrases can be meaningful in the appropriate context, they are often used as “filler” and can easily be eliminated.Wordy: Any particular type of dessert is fine with me.

(9 words)Concise: Any dessert is fine with me.

(6 words)Wordy: Balancing the budget by Friday is an impossibility without some kind of extra help.

(14 words)Concise: Balancing the budget by Friday is impossible without extra help.

(10 words)Wordy: For all intents and purposes, American industrial productivity generally depends on certain factors that are really more psychological in kind than of any given technological aspect.

(26 words)Concise: American industrial productivity depends more on psychological than on technological factors.

(11 words)

Here’s a list of some words and phrases that can often be pruned away to make sentences clearer:

  • kind of
  • sort of
  • type of
  • really
  • basically
  • for all intents and purposes
  • definitely
  • actually
  • generally
  • individual
  • specific
  • particular

3. OMIT REPETITIVE WORDING

Watch for phrases or longer passages that repeat words with similar meanings. Words that don’t build on the content of sentences or paragraphs are rarely necessary.Wordy: I would appreciate it if you would bring to the attention of your drafting officers the administrator’s dislike of long sentences and paragraphs in messages to the field and in other items drafted for her signature or approval, as well as in all correspondence, reports, and studies. Please encourage your section to keep their sentences short.

(56 words)Concise: Please encourage your drafting officers to keep sentences and paragraphs in letters, reports, and studies short. Dr. Lomas, the administrator, has mentioned that reports and memos drafted for her approval recently have been wordy and thus time-consuming.

(37 words)Wordy: The supply manager considered the correcting typewriter an unneeded luxury.

(10 words)Concise: The supply manager considered the correcting typewriter a luxury.

(9 words)Wordy: Our branch office currently employs five tellers. These tellers do an excellent job Monday through Thursday but cannot keep up with the rush on Friday and Saturday.

(27 words)Concise: Our branch office currently employs five tellers, who do an excellent job Monday through Thursday but cannot keep up with Friday and Saturday rush periods.

(25 words)

4. OMIT REDUNDANT PAIRS

Many pairs of words imply each other. Finish implies complete, so the phrase completely finish is redundant in most cases.

So are many other pairs of words:

  • past memories
  • various differences
  • each individual _______
  • basic fundamentals
  • true facts
  • important essentials
  • future plans
  • terrible tragedy
  • end result
  • final outcome
  • free gift
  • past history
  • unexpected surprise
  • sudden crisis

A related expression that’s not redundant as much as it is illogical is “very unique.” Since unique means “one of a kind,” adding modifiers of degree such as “very,” “so,” “especially,” “somewhat,” “extremely,” and so on is illogical. One-of-a-kind-ness has no gradations; something is either unique or it is not.Wordy: Before the travel agent was completely able to finish explaining the various differences among all of the many very unique vacation packages his travel agency was offering, the customer changed her future plans.

(33 words)Concise: Before the travel agent finished explaining the differences among the unique vacation packages his travel agency was offering, the customer changed her plans.

(23 words)

5. OMIT REDUNDANT CATEGORIES

Specific words imply their general categories, so we usually don’t have to state both. We know that a period is a segment of time, that pink is a color, that shiny is an appearance.

In each of the following phrases, the general category term can be dropped, leaving just the specific descriptive word:

  • large in size
  • often times
  • of a bright color
  • heavy in weight
  • period in time
  • round in shape
  • at an early time
  • economics field
  • of cheap quality
  • honest in character
  • of an uncertain condition
  • in a confused state
  • unusual in nature
  • extreme in degree
  • of a strange type

Wordy: During that time period, many car buyers preferred cars that were pink in color and shiny in appearance.

(18 words)Concise: During that period, many car buyers preferred pink, shiny cars.

(10 words)Wordy: The microscope revealed a group of organisms that were round in shape and peculiar in nature.

(16 words)Concise: The microscope revealed a group of peculiar, round organisms.

(9 words)

This trend seems a lot like the language used in the book 1984.

Newspeak is the fictional language of Oceania, a totalitarian superstate that is the setting of dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell.

Conclusion

I am all about eliminating hurtful phrases in our language. But where does it stop? Just about any phrase, written or spoken can be used in more than one fashion, or have more than one meaning depending on how it is used or the context it is being used in. I had a cat who was a little over weight, I used to call him my little fatty. Did that mean that I hated him? Like I said earlier romance languages use gender specifics in their language, are we going to change the entire language? I wonder if this bias trend is an attempt to break up our country? People are becoming afraid to even talk to one another or to write messages, because they are afraid of speaking out of turn, or being canceled for making a simple verbal or written mistake. Something that is no longer considered politically correct. Writing this article was certainly an eye opener. It seems to flow right into CRT or Critical Race Theory. A whole cottage industry seems to be appearing in the form of consultants and educators who are trained in all the niceties of modern language. I have written the following articles “Critical Race Theory Training”, “What is Woke?”, “Cancel Culture Needs to End, Its Unamerican”, “What is Cancel Culture?”, “The Skinny on Gender in America.” I am going to write an follow-up article on DEI or Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a wrap up article.

References

thoughtco.com, “Biased Language Definition and Examples: Prejudiced, Offensive, and Hurtful Words and Phrases.” By Richard Nordquist; blog.onig.com, “25+ Examples of Biased Language.” By ONGIG editors; likedin.com, “How to Eliminate Biased Language from Your Communications.” By DeEtta Jones; eige.europa.eu, “Gender-sensitive Communication;” dailywritingtips.com, “How to Avoid Bias in Your Writing.” By Mark Nichol; owl.purdue.edu, ” Eliminating Words;”

Articles on Reform
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/12/11/to-make-our-country-great-again-we-will-have-to-start-by-reforming-our-educational-system/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/08/14/police-reform-three-pronged-approach-legislative-reform-and-training-at-federal-and-state-level/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/06/05/government-reform-proposal-february-17-1999/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/11/20/government-reform-revisited/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/08/12/postal-service-reform/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/12/15/reform-in-our-licensing-and-regulations-and-miscellaneous-areas-for-good-measure/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/01/05/reform-in-our-country/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/02/12/the-skinny-on-gender-in-america/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/02/12/will-gender-equality-destroy-womans-sports-and-if-so-is-it-intentional/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/03/16/election-reform/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/05/03/voter-reform-my-final-words/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/08/25/how-to-make-our-country-great-again/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/06/15/how-can-we-save-our-country/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2021/07/02/what-are-americas-biggest-issues-today/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2022/01/11/changing-the-language-doesnt-make-it-so/