Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What is inclusive language?

Well, some of it's not bad, like saying "The student is encouraged to study. He or she is offered many study rooms."  The "he or she" is inclusive.

But I don't know *how* you can talk about "whiteness" or *not* talk about it. Are students supposed to speak in Ebonics? Hoe can they avoid "maleness" Refer to themselves in the feminine gender?

Apparently, the term "blacklisted" is racist, or at least exclusive. Now you must write "discriminated against" or "excluded" - which seems to avoid what the term "blacklisted" really means.

"White lies" are now lies, ignoring that there is a difference between lies and "little white lies".

"Foreigner" can't be used. They're now to be referred to as "people from another country."

"Minority" can't be used, they're "people of color." When a white person goes to  Africa and is a minority there, are they supposed to refer to themselves as a person without color?

The United Church of Christ website, which Professor Turner references, says this:
The Eleventh General Synod instructed that a Book of Worship be developed and characterized by language that is truly inclusive with respect to God and to people. Although the generic use of masculine terms has been accepted practice, it is exclusive and viewed as offensive by many. Further, the use of only masculine nouns and pronouns for God and of masculine generic terms for humankind has hidden the rich feminine imagery for God and God's people in scripture. Scripture contains many gender neutral metaphors for God such as shepherd, rock, or Holy One. The rediscovery of the complementary female and male metaphors in the Bible and the literature of the early church encourages Christians not to settle for literary poverty in the midst of literary riches.
Inclusive language is far more than an aesthetic matter of male and female imagery; it is a fundamental issue of social justice.  Language that is truly inclusive affirms sexuality, racial and ethnic background, stages of maturity, and degrees of limiting conditions.  It shows respect for all people.  Scripture proclaims the world is created, redeemed, and sustained by the Word of God, and the church attests to the power of language and words, recognizing that words have the power to exploit and exclude as well as affirm and liberate.

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
Galatians 3:28 NRSV
"We believe that the imagery conveyed by language and language itself is important and that they articulate and influence our understandings of what is revealed to us about the nature and activity of God and the dignity of all God's people as created in the image of God."
UCC Inclusive Language Covenant
Words That Exclude: Words That Include:
brothers, brotherhood
(in the faith)
brothers and sisters, friends, kindred, family of faith, neighbors, humankind 
man, men, mankind people, all people, men and women or women and men, humanity, persons, everyone, all of us, we, one
sons (of God) daughters and sons, children of God, people of God, God's people, heirs
chairman chairperson, chair, moderator, group leader, presiding officer
workmen workers
forefathers ancestors, forebears, forebearers
disabled person person with a disability, differently abled
clergyman clergy, minister
layman laity, layperson, member of the congregation, congregant
fellowship community, communion, friendship, "koinonia"
man-made constructed, not natural, human-made, synthetic
stand as able if you are able to do so comfortably, please stand
minority people racial ethnic people, people of color
foreigner, alien visitor from another country, immigrant
man and wife husband and wife, woman and man, spouses, partners
kingdom realm, reign of God
third world developing nations, two-thirds world
washed white, white lies washed clean, lies
blacklisted discriminated against, excluded
darkness of evil presence of evil

1 comment:

  1. Some of that list makes sense. For example, it just seems awkward to me to say "workmen" rather than "workers." Some of it I can get on board with, like "ancestors" for "forefathers" and even "people" for "mankind." Heck, I can even go along with finding a better term than "third world" which just sound derogatory without context.

    Then there is the nonsense. The definition of "foreigner" is someone "from another country." I'm not aware of any derogatory connotation for that word. And what's wrong with "stand as able"? Wasn't it verbose enough for the list-maker? B/c the offered alternative says the same thing but wastes more words.

    Finally, there's the stuff that just plain rewrites scripture. I'm pretty sure God knew that he had created people of various colors when he used metaphors of light and dark, black and white. (If you believe the Bible was written by God.) He probably even anticipated people getting really touchy about stupid stuff like that. Anyone who is put off by the use of metaphor isn't really reading the words to begin with.