Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    englishhobby's Avatar
    englishhobby is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,886

    a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    I have noticed that all the English words I know which describe people who are physically not healthy are marked 'oldfashioned' in dictionaries (I need both singular and plural forms). For example:
    1) a handicapped person (singular) - handicapped people, the handicapped (plural)
    2) an invalid (singular) - invalids (plural)
    3) a cripple (singular)- the crippled (plural).

    Now I have found 'physically challenged people' (plural), but it's too long to pronounce and if you want to use a singular form, do you say "He/She is a physically challenged person"?

    What are the most common, not old fashioned, words (with their singular and plural forms) for such people these days?
    Are "a disabled person" (singular) and "people with disabilities (plural) the most common ones?
    Last edited by englishhobby; 08-Jul-2017 at 07:59.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    61,372

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    It's a minefield. In all honesty, you need to ask someone who has a "disability" how they would like to be referred to but be ready for a potentially sarcastic answer. My cousin is partially-sighted (she has about 30% vision). I once heard someone ask her if she wanted to be called blind, partially-sighted, disabled, differently-abled and a couple of other choices. She thought for a moment and said, "Well, I'd really like you to refer to me as Gill".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    31,888

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    Note that 'an invalid' is different. You can be an invalid without being disabled or handicapped.

    Never call people 'cripples'.

    You can say 'I'm/My brother's crippled with arthritis', meaning that we suffer badly from it.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 08-Jul-2017 at 11:17.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    74,151

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    1) a handicapped person (singular) - handicapped people, the handicapped (plural)
    2) an invalid (singular) - invalids (plural)
    3) a cripple (singular)- the crippled (plural).
    None of these work nowadays. We talk about people with disabilities/issues.challenges, etc. It is, as Emsr2d2 says, a minefield. Take cases individually and see what people are using now and follow that, however wordy and inconvenient. I am, ahem, a person with mobility issues and do use the word cripple, but that's a personal choice because I can't be bothered to use so many words, but this would make many people very uncomfortable, so I generally use it when around friends and family. I would probably use a more standard form at the cotor's.

  5. #5
    andrewg927 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    1,325

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    "People with disabilities" is pretty standard and neutral. "The disabled" is alright too. Depending on the disability, you could use "mentally challenged", "physically challenged" to describe a specific disability. "A cripple" is a little offensive but some people may not care.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    61,372

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    The problem, in these days of rampant political correctness, is that many of the words in this thread have a negative connotation. For example, the word "disabled" suggests "unable to do things non-disabled people can't do". Whilst it might be true that a person who is permanently confined to a wheelchair cannot walk, the implication is that that means they are unable to do a lot of other things. My cousin (the partially-sighted one I mentioned earlier) does not allow her "disability" stop her doing anything. She's an accomplished actress (stage and TV), travels around cities with which she is not familiar without any discernible problem, runs a massage business and, to those who don't know about her vision problems, appears perfectly "normal" (note that that is another word that shouldn't be used these days as a comparison to "disabled" people.

    The same goes for "handicapped". The people I know with similar issues would prefer that people concentrate on their abilities.

    You won't get a straight answer to your original question. All the words in this thread exist and have been used for a long time. The issue these days is whether they should continue to be used.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  7. #7
    andrewg927 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    1,325

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    There are two issues at stake here. One is in a social setting. It's a little more tricky to not offend anyone. The other is in a medical setting. A disability is a medical diagnosis. For example, if you call a person who is blind "blind", then you are simply stating a fact. The same goes with a person with aspergers. You could simply call them for what they are, people with aspergers. However, in a social setting calling them "retarded" (a former medical diagnosis) is generally considered derogatory. On some official forms, you might still encounter with the question "are you disabled?" (though many have replaced it with "do you have a disability?"). Again, in a social setting asking someone "are you disabled?" is generally not considered goodwill. The bottom line is you need to ask yourself these questions (loosely) before you choose which word to use:

    1. Who am I addressing?
    2. Why do I need to point out or ask about their disabilities? Is it to accommodate them if appropriate or is it to mock them?
    3. In what context? If you are a nurse, you need to know about a person's disabilities for obvious reasons. But if you are at party, do you really need to tell everyone about their disabilities?

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    74,151

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    I had a student who was referred to as sight impaired. He was 100% blind and thought this description was wrong. It should never be to mock them. It really should be about accepting and embracing them.

  9. #9
    andrewg927 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Posts
    1,325

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    Did he just want to be called "blind" then?

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Japan
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    74,151

    Re: a handicapped person/ the handicapped

    He didn't see how he could be described as sight impaired as he thought of it as a term for people with reduced vision. He was happier with blind as a description.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •