Politically Correct Language

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5jj

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It's pretty common as a greeting by wait staff in casual restaurants here (where y'all isn't used). "How are you guys doing tonight?"
I am old-fashioned enough to cross a restaurant like that off my list. It took years for me to get used to complete strangers addressing me by my first name after two seconds' acquaintance. My stomach is not ready for 'you guys' from wait staff.

NOTE: This and the following few posts have been tranferred from another thread. I felt it better to have a fresh thread for our thoughts on PC language
 
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emsr2d2

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Re: What did you guys order?

I'm not ready for them to be called "wait staff".
 

SoothingDave

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Re: What did you guys order?

I'm not ready for them to be called "wait staff".

I was going to say "waitresses" but didn't want to sound sexist!
 

emsr2d2

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Re: What did you guys order?

I still call them waiters when talking about them in general terms. I can't be doing with the PC nonsense.
 

5jj

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Re: What did you guys order?

I can't be doing with the PC nonsense.
Oh, ems. You and I are beginning to sound our age - and you still have a long way to go to catch up with me. If it wouldn't breach the rules, I'd invite you to join my branch of the Grumpy Old Men's Club. It's cozy there at this time of the year, roasting our chestnuts and toasting our toes in front of the open fire while the buxom serving wenches bring us our flagons of mulled ale to quaff.
 

JarekSteliga

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Re: What did you guys order?

I still call them waiters when talking about them in general terms. I can't be doing with the PC nonsense.


NOT A TEACHER

Unless this part of the conversation is out of bounds for learners, would you mind explaining what you meant by, "I can't be doing with the PC nonsense."? While having some vague idea what it is from the context, I do remember ever coming accross the expression, " I can't be doing with sth", nor the "PC" acronym.
 

emsr2d2

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Re: What did you guys order?

"I can't be doing with" means "I'm not interested in" or "I can't stand" or "I think ... is ridiculous" or something similar. It's hard to give an exact definition.

PC = Political Correctness.

Basically, I think the obsession with having to make sure that everyone is included in every description of everything is nonsense. I don't know a single "waitress" who is upset if the staff at the restaurant she works in happen to be referred to as "waiters".
It can become ridiculous. For example, the metal cover over a hole in the road leading to the sewers in the UK is called a "manhole cover". Apparently, some people thought that was sexist and suggested that we all call it a "personhole cover". Absolutely ridiculous.
 

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Re: What did you guys order?

PC is "political correctness," the careful use of language of as to avoid offending others, particularly minorities.

To avoid offense, we don't say "fireman" we say "firefighter." We don't say "deaf," we say "hearing impaired."

The "proper" names for racial minorities seem to be constantly changing.
 

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Re: What did you guys order?

"I can't be doing with" means "I'm not interested in" or "I can't stand" or "I think ... is ridiculous" or something similar. It's hard to give an exact definition.

PC = Political Correctness.

Basically, I think the obsession with having to make sure that everyone is included in every description of everything is nonsense. I don't know a single "waitress" who is upset if the staff at the restaurant she works in happen to be referred to as "waiters".
It can become ridiculous. For example, the metal cover over a hole in the road leading to the sewers in the UK is called a "manhole cover". Apparently, some people thought that was sexist and suggested that we all call it a "personhole cover". Absolutely ridiculous.

"Waitress" causes a dilemma, as we saw above. If I say "waitresses" in general because a lot of women do do this profession, I am stereotyping. If I say "waiters" in general, then I could be thought of as somehow excluding women. So we invent these neutered terms, like "wait staff."
 

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Re: What did you guys order?

"

PC = Political Correctness.

Basically, I think the obsession with having to make sure that everyone is included in every description of everything is nonsense. I don't know a single "waitress" who is upset if the staff at the restaurant she works in happen to be referred to as "waiters".
It can become ridiculous. For example, the metal cover over a hole in the road leading to the sewers in the UK is called a "manhole cover". Apparently, some people thought that was sexist and suggested that we all call it a "personhole cover". Absolutely ridiculous.

If any consolation, the same thing goes on in my language. Lawyers become lawyeresses and so on. Looks like in some instances PC could just as well stand for "pretty crazy".
 

emsr2d2

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Re: What did you guys order?

I don't have much of a problem with the feminine version of a noun which used to only have a male version but I don't think it should be obligatory and I certainly can't see how anyone could be offended by the name of a job. It's this bizarre attempt to make everything sex-less (gender neutral) that I can't understand.

If the chair of a board is male, then he's the chairman. If the chair of a board is female, then she's the chairwoman. I don't think we should have to create the word "chairperson" just to keep everyone happy.
 

probus

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Re: What did you guys order?

I am in full sympathy with all that has been said in this thread. But ems's opinion is out of step with what is actually happening in response to this PC impetus. Instead of chairmen or chairwomen or chairpersons, what we now have are human chairs, at least on the boards I sit on or chair.

But worse, by far, is usage like this: If anyone thinks, does, has or whatever, THEY ... This is rapidly becoming standard. The feminists won the political battle, and quite rightly in my opinion. Now as a result of their victory the language is being forced into new and uncharted territory.
 

5jj

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Re: What did you guys order?

But worse, by far, is usage like this: If anyone thinks, does, has or whatever, THEY ... This is rapidly becoming standard. The feminists won the political battle, and quite rightly in my opinion. Now as a result of their victory the language is being forced into new and uncharted territory.
I can't agree with you on that one, probus. This is one occasion where a little bit of PC pressure has tipped the balance in favour of common usage. For the majority of native speakers, they/them/their were always the pronouns of choice for some/any/nobody, some/any/no-one, etc. Generations of tyrannical schoolteachers tried to insist that only the 'all-embracing' (!) masculine pronoun should be used, and generations of editors and proofreaders enforced the rule. Meanwhile, ordinary people ignored the rule in their everyday speech and correspondence, either (depending on their approach to arbitrary authority) blushing or looking a little puzzled if they were reproached by Class X, that small, self-appointed and self-perpetuating clique of people who knew beyond any doubt that people who used a plural pronoun for indefinite determiners belonged in that subspecies of yahoos who did not understand when to use whom, dropped inital hs, split infinitives, said 'It's me', didn't wear a tie on Sundays and ate dinner in the middle of the day.

Formal logic has never been one of the foundations of natural languages, though for several centuries 'educated' people tried to force native speakers of English into its (somewhat twisted) yoke. A rearguard action by Class X to compromise on the replacement of he with he or she, she or he, s/he, (s)he or newly-invented words was largely treated with the contempt it deserved.

PC pressure has caused some changes in usage which I regret, largely because they are, or were, not natural.The release of the plural pronoun from its underground samizdat existence to a newly-won respectability is one of the changes I welcome.
 

Tdol

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It took years for me to get used to complete strangers addressing me by my first name after two seconds' acquaintance.

Five, sorry, uh Mr J, or Mr JJ. ;-)

A lot of what is known as PC language strikes me as simply a question of manners and is fine- the use of they as a non-gender specific pronoun that comes up later in the thread is an example that I approve of. When the terms change endlessly, it simply becomes annoying, but this example strikes me more as corporate speak than PC. The use of first names has sent me back to more formal forms - I use sir and madam more than I used to - and I don't want to be asked how we guys are doin' tonight- I want to be served good food, largely in silence, but I am not sure that the PC gang are guilty here.
 

emsr2d2

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Re: What did you guys order?

But worse, by far, is usage like this: If anyone thinks, does, has or whatever, THEY ... This is rapidly becoming standard. The feminists won the political battle, and quite rightly in my opinion. Now as a result of their victory the language is being forced into new and uncharted territory.

I'm not sure about your definition of rapidly. Using "they" instead of "he/she" was well-established 40 years ago when I was a child learning the language so it's been around rather too long to be considered to be currently rapidly becoming standard. It is entirely standard and much preferable, in my opinion, to faffing about with "he/she", "him/her", "his/her" etc.
 

emsr2d2

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The use of first names has sent me back to more formal forms - I use sir and madam more than I used to - and I don't want to be asked how we guys are doin' tonight- I want to be served good food, largely in silence, but I am not sure that the PC gang are guilty here.

Were you referring to the use of first names by wait staff or by other people?

I'm curious as to how you would (if you had to) address those wait staff. If they are wearing a name tag, would you ever say "Excuse me, Joseph (for example), may I have another pitcher of water?" or would you call him "waiter" or "nothing at all"? I assume you expect him to refer to you as "Sir".
 

5jj

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I'm curious as to how you would (if you had to) address those wait staff. If they are wearing a name tag, would you ever say "Excuse me, Joseph (for example), may I have another pitcher of water?" or would you call him "waiter" or "nothing at all"? I assume you expect him to refer to you as "Sir".
I am not someone who goes around asserting the superiority (or inferiority) of one language compared with another, but I do, sometimes, regret the lack in English of a deference-free equivalent of (for example) the French Monsieur/madame/mademoiselle. Perhaps it's a result of my age and/or background, but there are few situations in which I can happily address anyone as 'sir'(/'madam'), and as few in which I am comfortable at being addressed as 'sir'.

Although I was brought up to despise 'You're welcome' (horrid transpondial practice) as a response to being thanked (a true Englishman simply gives a self-deprecating smile), I have learnt to appreciate it. I look forward to an acceptable English equivalent to 'monsieur/senor/pane/etc' and 'bon appetit/buen apetito/dobrou chut/etc'.
 

probus

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Re: What did you guys order?

I'm not sure about your definition of rapidly. Using "they" instead of "he/she" was well-established 40 years ago when I was a child learning the language so it's been around rather too long to be considered to be currently rapidly becoming standard. It is entirely standard and much preferable, in my opinion, to faffing about with "he/she", "him/her", "his/her" etc.

What I meant by rapidly is that resistance to the usage of they is fading away, as 5jj noted. I know that many people were using this they fifty and sixty years ago, but I accepted the instruction I received and always tried to avoid it myself. Certainly I never let it creep into any of my writing. Nowadays, however, I hear highly educated professional wordsmiths using it freely, and one of them , a lawyer, smartly told me it was now standard.
 

Tdol

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5jj

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I have moved the 'Enjoy your meal' discussion to a thread of its own.
 
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