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Of all the words in the English language... - Sauntering Vaguely Downward [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Of all the words in the English language... [20111216|22:12]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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I was sitting peacefully on my train home this evening. I decided I couldn't cope with Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson just then. I opted instead to melt my brain by doing the puzzles in the Evening Standard - which is the only reason I pick up the Evening Standard because I certainly don't read the damn thing - when this happened. And I gawped at it for a while in disbelief. And then took photos of it. And then gawped at it some more.

And then decided the interwebs needed to know about it.

I...just...you REALLY couldn't find yourself a less loaded word to put in your crossword puzzle, ES? REALLY?! WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH 'NEARS'?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: thefounder
2011-12-16 23:24 (UTC)
wow. that's quite astonishing, and yet somehow not surprising when it's the Evening Standard. sometimes i forget i live in a civilised country.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-12-17 10:31 (UTC)
It may not be surprising coming from the ES, but I also think it deserves not to pass without comment. Angry letter writing commences today.
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[User Picture]From: soliano
2011-12-16 23:46 (UTC)
Took me a minute to figure out. I agree with you nears would have been an easier choice.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-12-17 10:33 (UTC)
It would have been so much better. I can't have been the only person to think, "...Did I just time warp back several decades?"
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[User Picture]From: dylsexia
2011-12-17 02:41 (UTC)
Holy hell, how did that make it past the department of polital correctness?
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2011-12-17 04:31 (UTC)
Or even the department of WHAT THE ARE YOU IT'S 2011. Which is a lower bar than the "sensitive to the power politics of language department" by a good long drop.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-12-17 10:40 (UTC)
I invite you to join the "angry letter to the ES" campaign.
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[User Picture]From: anthrokeight
2011-12-17 14:34 (UTC)
I'll compose something short and sharp in my head on the drive to St. Paul today, and send it during the weekend.

:(
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-12-17 10:33 (UTC)
I have no idea. The mind boggles.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-12-17 10:41 (UTC)
Several decades prior to when we thought it was, apparently.
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2011-12-17 21:14 (UTC)
I'm afraid, being from a part of the country where most folk are either white or of Indian or Pakistani origin, I honestly don't know what terms are and aren't appropriate for, in the most generic term I can think of, people of African origin. Is that allowed? I don't know! Having read the Wikipedia entry on "negro", I'm not feeling particularly enlightened. What is appropriate?

Edited at 2011-12-17 09:14 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2011-12-18 10:01 (UTC)
People of African origin are African (or Nigerian, Congolese, Kenyan, etc if you actually know which country they're from). I would say that all other terms are way too loaded for a person who is not of African origin to use. For instance, I don't mind being called Asian because I consider that a geographic and hence neutral term, but "Oriental" pisses me off. Even if you hear someone self-identify with a different term, like the one in the crossword, you probably won't want to use it when referring to that person.

Edited at 2011-12-18 10:02 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: nimoloth
2011-12-19 12:20 (UTC)
So can I refer to someone as "black" in a descriptive context (I really hope I'm not being offensive here, I want to know what's OK and what's not), or can one never refer to someone using their skin tone / ethnic origin as a descriptive? For example, "there were three black guys and two white guys in the band"? Race can be a useful and totally not meant to be offensive descriptor, and without such recourse, one gets tied in knots trying to re-phase something and then everyone gets awkward and doesn't know if they've been accidentally racist or at the least politically incorrect. I've seen this situation arise more than once, especially here where we know a grand total of zero black people personally. Was than an OK sentence? I've heard others say the correct term in such a context is "African-American" but that's not useful in Britain and I haven't heard an equivalent term here.
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[User Picture]From: danaid_luv
2011-12-18 10:37 (UTC)
I won't tell you how long I tried to make 'African' = 'nears'; what else could it be? *lightbulb* Oh. My. gawd. O.O

The only time I would expect to see or hear that word ever is immediately preceding the word Spirituals. And I don't know that I'd feel comfortable saying it even in that context.
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[User Picture]From: leezechka
2011-12-19 00:50 (UTC)
The technical term negro doesn't shock me as much, I study a lot of history from when that was the preferred word (Negro leagues, United Negro College Fund, etc. ) However, even if they meant the technical terminology, the clue is stupid since there are sections of Africa that are not anthropologically negro at all.
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