Have you ever said the phrase “No can do?” I have and I remember a song from my college days that had those words in the chorus.
I ran across a story from the University of Washington that went viral because of their list of “problematic” words they produced for people in IT. It’s called “IT Inclusive Language Guide: A reference for software and other information technology content.” Here’s a link if you want to peruse the problem words.
I graduated from the U-Dub, as did my brother, mom, dad, aunt and two cousins. I’m proud of my alma mater normally. But today, not so much.
Without getting overly political, I feel censorship is getting out of hand. I don’t think it’s a one-sided issue, but it’s coming at us from all sides.
Changing our language and letting us know what words can and cannot be used I view as a type of censorship.
First, the list divided the offensive words into four distinct areas:
- Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, Religion, Native/Indigenous Identity
- Disability and Ableism
- Gender and sexual orientation
Grandfather makes the list of problematic words:
A “grandfather” clause, “grandfather” policy or “grandfathering” in IT s a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. Those exempt from the new rule are said to have grandfather rights, acquired rights, or to have been grandfathered in.
Why it’s problematic:
“Grandfathering” or “grandfather clause” was used as a way to exempt some people from a change because of conditions that existed before the change (e.g., we’ve grandfathered some users on an unlimited data plan.”) “Grandfather clause” originated in the American South in the 1890s as a way to defy the 15th Amendment and prevent black Americans from voting.
They don’t like the phrase “brown bag lunch” either. I always thought it referred to the brown paper bag that I used to put my sandwich and apple in for school lunches. I didn’t know brown bag was referencing skin color. In fact whoever wrote this list, says it does — I’m not buying it. The damn paper bag has a brown color. That’s it.
No can do.
Other offensive words are mantra, cakewalk, ninja, guru, redline, peanut gallery and jerry-rigged. Oh yes, and the expression “no can do.”
Thoughts? Do you think the UW is going too far with their list of problem words? Or, do you think we need to be more sensitive? Do you view changing our language and being told what words we can and cannot use is a form of censorship?