LINGUIST List 7.1457

Thu Oct 17 1996

Disc: PC dictionary

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <dizdartam2000.tamu.edu>


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  1. Peter Daniels, Re: 7.1322, Sum: PC dictonary

Message 1: Re: 7.1322, Sum: PC dictonary

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1996 23:05:57 CDT
From: Peter Daniels <pdanielspress-gopher.uchicago.edu>
Subject: Re: 7.1322, Sum: PC dictonary
Regarding one item in the bibliography on "PC" language (better: non-
sexist writing): "The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and
Handbook" by Beard and Cerf is MOST EMPHATICALLY NOT a legitimate work
of linguistics or lexicography like the other items on the list. It is
a JOKE BOOK (and is shelved with "Humor" at at least one of the major
bookstore chains in the US). This book was recently cited on a
different list by another scholar based in Japan, so I wonder how it
is being marketed there; perhaps stress is laid on the hundreds of
scholarly-looking "footnotes" in the back. Many of those notes,
however, are references to other jokebooks produced by right-wing
"humorists" mocking the alleged phenomenon of "politically correct
speech"; many of the references are to articles in right-wing
magazines that also make fun of supposed "PC" speech. Many such items
are in the fabricational tradition of Dinesh D'Souza, who published
many tales of alleged persecutions as if they were fact; many of his
anecdotes were completely made up or impossibly exaggerated. There is,
indeed, a handful of references to actual usages (the one that struck
me was to a psycholo- gist [it seemed to be] who proposed "femses" and
"femstruation" in place of "menses" and "menstruation"). Needless to
say, "PC" usages are used where they are appropriate--one doesn't see
complaints about "flight attendant", does one, and if one says
"stewardess", one doesn't get tossed off the plane, does one? Of
course we had this discussion over the summer, and it needn't be
repeated again; but "PC"-phobia mustn't become confused with the
serious linguistic and lexicographic tools otherwise listed in
Prof. Tanaka's summary.
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