Books, Collection Development, Ethics

Not a fan

There are words that we, in polite society, don’t say.  Some of those words have been claimed, or reclaimed, by the group intended to be insulted by that word (eg, queer).  And some are supposed to be used only “in group”.

I raise this because one of our popular databases here is the online OED.  It’s used heavily in the ninth grade English classes, and I suspect many adults use it to find etymologies of words (or alternate spellings).  So imagine my shock when I read this on LanguageLog, that the “Y-word” has been repurposed and defined:

2. British. In extended use: a supporter of or player for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (traditionally associated with the Jewish community in north and east London). Originally and frequently derogatory and offensive, though also often as a self-designation.

Even the football club is asking for people to stop using That Word.

At MPOW the English Department has established the norm that while they may have texts that use certain language, in reading aloud or speaking about it “n-word” is to be used. That makes sense because there are many works that use that word that are still worth reading.  But there are many other words that do not need to be written or read, and this is one of them.

While looking through our language/grammar section, I and a colleague found a book listing ethnic and other slurs.  It’s now gone, despite it possibly having value in a linguistic setting.  Why provide even more ways to spread division and cruelty?


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