'Politically Correct Terms for 1991 . . . '
(From 1991 e-mail posting, as examples of attitudes toward PC language)
Introduction to American English (Hopkins)
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere

       old             new
conservative           reactionary
The Establishment      White Power Elite
blind                  visually challenged
mute                   vocally challenged
dead                   metabolically different
alive                  temporarily metabolically abled
ugly                   aesthetically challenged
psychopath             socially misaligned
bald                   follicularly challenged
white                  melanin impoverished/genetically oppressive
white male             oppressor
dairy                  where cows are raped
ranch                  where cattle are murdered
egg ranch              where hens are raped
fishing                raping the oceans
farming                exploiting mother earth
paper bag              processed tree carcass

Many labels from the 80's are now passe. Here is a partial list of new denotations (all such labels are subject to change without notice).

old            80's                            90's
---------      --------------------------      -------------------------
deaf           hearing impaired                aurally challenged
blind          sight impaired                  visually challenged
retarded       mentally handicapped            mentally challenged
queer          gay/homosexual                  queer [strange but true]
fat            big-boned                       alternative body image

At my office we have two bins for recycling paper. One is labelled "White paper only"; the other "Colored paper only." Later I found "Colored paper" scribbled out and "Paper of Color" written above it...

It is difficult to keep up with all the new politically-correct terms. Cartoonist Gary Trudeau may have covered all tracks when he began a recent speech at Yale University as follows:

"Dean Kagan, distinguished faculty, parents, friends, graduating seniors, Secret Service agents, class agents, people of class, people of color, colorful people, people of height, the vertically constrained, people of hair, the differently coiffed, the optically challenged, the temporarily sighted, the insightful, the out-of- sight, the out-of-towners, the Eurocentrics, the Afrocentrics, the Afrocentrics with Eurailpasses, the eccentrically inclined, the sexually disinclined, people of sex, sexy people, sexist pigs, animal companions, friends of the earth, friends of the boss, the temporarily employed, the differently employed, the differently optioned, people with options, people with stock options, divestiturists, deconstructionists, home constructionists, home boys, homeless, temporarily housed at home, and, God save us, the permanently housed at home."

With today's affirmative action and politically-correct speech, it is no longer acceptable to say "handicapped" or "disabled". "Challenged" is now the acceptable term. Such was the case when a radio talk-show host in Maryland recently reported a traffic jam caused by a "mechanically-challenged" vehicle.

Last Updated 15 August 1998