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    #1

    Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Dear all,

    I'd like to ask a native speaker of English.

    1. Grouping students according to their ability isn't democratic.

    2. Grouping students according to their ability would be against the principle of democracy.

    In each sentence the writer, who isn't probably a native English speaker, seems to mean fair and fairness respectively by democratic and democracy.

    Do you use these words just to mean fair and fairness? Do they have such broad meanings that they are used for things unrelated to political equality?

    Thank you!

    OP
    Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 26-Dec-2011 at 13:38.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Quote Originally Posted by optimistic pessimist View Post
    Dear all,

    I'd like to ask a native speaker of English.

    1. Grouping students according to their ability isn't democratic.

    2. Grouping students according to their ability would be against the principle of democracy.

    In each sentence the writer, who isn't probably a native English speaker, seems to mean fair and fairness respectively by democratic and democracy.

    Do you use these words just to mean fair and fairness? Do they have such broader meanings that they are used for things unrelatied to political equality?

    Thank you!

    OP
    I think you might be right and the speaker meant "fair" or something similar. I'm not sure how grouping students in any way could be seen to be democratic unless the students themselves voted to say which group they would like to be in.

    Personally, I would have thought that grouping students based on ability seems very sensible!

    In answer to your title question, I live in the UK which is allegedly a democracy. I can assure you that "democratic" doesn't necessarily mean "fair"!

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    #3

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    It's a top-down decision and the students are excluded from participation in the process, which is why it's not democratic IMO.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    It's a top-down decision and the students are excluded from participation in the process, which is why it's not democratic IMO.
    Oh, absolutely, I agree. I was just wondering what method of grouping students would be considered democratic (other than letting them have a say). I would expect any commonly used method would be fairly undemocratic. I certainly had no say all through school and college as to which group or class I was put in.

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    #5

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Hi emsr2d2, Tdol,

    Thanks for your replies. I'd like make sure if I'm on the right track. Judging by your replies, it is okay to say you don't use the word democratic just to mean the opposite of discriminatory?

    Thank you!

    OP

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Quote Originally Posted by optimistic pessimist View Post
    Hi emsr2d2, Tdol,

    Thanks for your replies. I'd like make sure if I'm on the right track. Judging by your replies, it is okay to say you don't use the word democratic just to mean the opposite of discriminatory?

    Thank you!

    OP
    You would certainly be correct about that. The opposite of discrimanatory is non-discriminatory.
    The opposite of democratic is undemocratic.

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    #7

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    The author is confusing democracy with egalitarianism.

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    #8

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    The author is confusing democracy with egalitarianism.
    Hi Soothing Dave,
    Thanks for your reply. Yes, I confused democracy with egalitarianism. And that's because in my native language, Japanese, "democracy/ democratic" could be used in a broader sense beyond the political principle.
    For example, some people use the translation of "democratic" just to mean "fair". (Strictly speaking, it may be wrong, but that's the way we do.)

    So, maybe the person who wrote sentence #2 simply tried to mean "Grouping ....against the principle of egalitariasm".

    #2. Grouping students according to their ability would be against the principle of democracy.

    That perfectly makes sense to me.

    Thank you for clarifying that!

    OP
    Last edited by optimistic pessimist; 22-Aug-2011 at 03:51.

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    #9

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Quote Originally Posted by optimistic pessimist View Post
    For example, some people use the translation of "democratic" just to mean "fair". (Strictly speaking, it may be wrong, but that's the way we do.)
    Then those who do so are misunderstanding the word, and hence mistranslating it. It's not being strict at all to explain that 'democratic' does not mean 'fair'.

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    #10

    Re: Does "democratic" mean "fair"?

    Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

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