Politically correct language
What do you think the following words and expressions mean? How are they said in normal or traditional English?
mentally challenged/ learning difficulties
follicly challenged/ comb free
Try to find any that you weren’t sure about on the next page.
(Possibly) politically incorrect language
blind/ going blind
deaf/ going deaf
garbage man/ bin man
- Which examples of politically correct language are ridiculous? Which ones are actually jokes, do you think?
- Which expressions in the lists of politically incorrect language would you avoid using?
- Do you have similar issues in your own language?
- The words above and divided into three sections by what way they are politically incorrect. What are the three sections? Are these all equally important?
- What are the arguments for and against politically correct language? Which side do you fall on?
Without looking at the top of the last page, work together to say the things at the bottom in more indirect, polite or politically correct ways.
Try to think of politically correct expressions for other negative words, e.g. the ones above that you haven’t talked about yet, and see if the other groups can guess what you are talking about.
sanitation engineer – bin man
mail carrier – postman/ mailman
physically challenged – disabled/ handicapped
mentally challenged/ learning difficulties – mentally disabled
hearing impaired – deaf/ going deaf
seniors – old people
visually impaired – blind/ going blind
follicly challenged/ comb free – bald/ balding
fire fighter – fireman
visually challenged – ugly
living impaired – dead
chair – chairman
banned – blacklisted
The three sections are based on avoiding negative words, being racist, and being sexist.
Some suggestions for the other words in the list:
short – vertically challenged
uneducated – book challenged
white lie – innocent lie
policeman – police officer
mankind – humankind
actress – actor
air stewardess – cabin crew
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