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  1. #1
    scott833 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    1) What race is your teacher?
    2) What is the race of your teacher?
    3) Your teacher is of what race?

    1) Your teacher is of what descend?

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott833 View Post
    1) What race is your teacher?
    2) What is the race of your teacher?
    3) Your teacher is of what race?

    1) Your teacher is of what descend?
    #1 and #2 are less unnatural than #2; what is your teacher's ethnic origin? is possibly less unnatural than all of them.

    I used 'less unnatural' rather than 'more natural' deliberately. This is not a question that I would consider natural to ask. Indeed, it would often be highly inappropriate.

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott833 View Post
    1) What race is your teacher?
    2) What is the race of your teacher?
    3) Your teacher is of what race?

    1) Your teacher is of what descend?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Scott,


    (1) I agree with Teacher Fivejedjon: many people would not be

    comfortable with that question.

    (2) Here in the United States, for example, it would usually be

    considered highly offensive.

    (3) If you just have to know, however, it might be better to ask:

    Excuse me. Could you tell me your teacher's background? Here in the

    United States, sometimes background is a "code word" for race.

  4. #4
    scott833 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Thanks for enlightening me teachers. I didn't know the word is offensive, so i will take your advice and use the word background instead.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott833 View Post
    Thanks for enlightening me teachers. I didn't know the word is offensive, so i will take your advice and use the word background instead.
    It is not so much the word as the question itself that could be offensive. If one asks questions about someone's ethnic origin, one may give the impression that one is racist, Why else would one be interested?

  6. #6
    TheParser is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by scott833 View Post
    Thanks for enlightening me teachers. I didn't know the word is offensive, so i will take your advice and use the word background instead.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Scott,


    (1) If there is some reason for you to know the race(s) of the people

    in an area, organization, etc., it would, indeed, be helpful to avoid the

    word race.

    (2) We Americans use other words that do not seem so harsh or

    candid. Besides "May I ask what your background is?" Americans

    also refer to someone's ethnicity.

    (3) And I forgot in my first post to mention the most popular:

    demographics, as in "The demographics of my city have greatly

    changed."

    NOTE: My dictionary tells me that ethnicity and demographics are

    not the same as race. Nevertheless, it does not matter, for everyone

    understands what you usually mean when you use ethnicity or

    demographics.

    P.S. Of course, in a university class, the words race, ethnicity, and

    demographics should be carefully differentiated. Generally speaking,

    however, those three words are used as synonyms by the ordinary

    person "on the street."

  7. #7
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    Khosro is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It is not so much the word as the question itself that could be offensive. If one asks questions about someone's ethnic origin, one may give the impression that one is racist, Why else would one be interested?
    Why else?! Out of curiousity. Because race is one of the characteristics of a person. According to your argument if I ask somebody:"Is your teacher a man or a woman?" then I am sexist. If I ask him/her:"How old is your teacher?" then I would be someone who is ... (what's the word for it?). I disagree, but I consider it a cultural doxa in America and some other countries and if I were to live there I would obey the rule.
    I am also aware that in some situations any of the above questions could be offensive in any country.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khosro View Post
    Why else?! Out of curiousity. Because race is one of the characteristics of a person. According to your argument if I ask somebody:"Is your teacher a man or a woman?" then I am sexist. If I ask him/her:"How old is your teacher?" then I would be someone who is ... (what's the word for it?). I disagree, but I consider it a cultural doxa in America and some other countries and if I were to live there I would obey the rule.
    If my offspring tell me that their teacher has told them, "Men are inherently superior to women", then it is legitimate for me to ask about that teacher's gender. If they tell me that their teacher uses classroom time to lecture about the sin of extra-marital sex, then I have no qualms about asking about that teacher's age and/or religion. These are just examples of times when I do not consider it inappropriate to ask such questions.

    However, in normal circumstances, I think it as inappropriate to enquire about a person's race, gender, age, creed, sexual orientation, etc, as to ask their weight or the salary they earn. I prefer to think of people as they are, and to judge them (if I do judge them) by what they do, not by irrelevant information that merely satisfies my personal curiosity.

    I do not think that race (or any of the other things I have mentioned) is a 'characteristic' of a person. If I have to describe to a police officer the person who has just mugged me, then all these things are important, because they may help identify the criminal. If I have to describe my teacher or the staff in the pub next door who bring me my beer, then 'characteristics' such as 'friendly, helpful, efficient, hard-working' etc, are more appropriate than 'black, old, female, fat, gay' etc.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khosro View Post
    Why else?! Out of curiousity. Because race is one of the characteristics of a person. According to your argument if I ask somebody:"Is your teacher a man or a woman?" then I am sexist. If I ask him/her:"How old is your teacher?" then I would be someone who is ... (what's the word for it?). I disagree, but I consider it a cultural doxa in America and some other countries and if I were to live there I would obey the rule.
    I am also aware that in some situations any of the above questions could be offensive in any country.
    It's a tricky area, but certainly if someone asked me a direct question like What race is your teacher?, I would be taken aback. Because it's not the sort of question we would ask, it is open to misinterpretation.

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are these sentences correct by using the word race and descend?

    This response is purely personal.

    I have been thinking about it since I joined this thread. I think now that, if I were taking a course (except possibly one on 'Race/Ethnicity Issues'), I would not be, like Tdol, 'taken aback'; I would be shocked - in a very negative way - if someone asked me that question.

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