A Minnesota state senator said recently that calling the invasive Asian carp by the name “Asian carp” is “hurtful to some people.” Apparently some are concerned that “it casts people from Asian cultures in a negative light.” No, it would simply be the name of a fish. If anything could somehow be cast in a negative light by its name…it would be the fish. (And where is the outcry over the name “American eel?!?” Eel, for pete’s sake!). This same senator is touting a measure that would officially rename the fish “invasive carp.”
There are more than one species of invasive carp, so this is not helpful to clarity and specificity. When we purge, police and “cleanse” the language, the language is made bland and pale, bereft of color and life, and ultimately, nearly meaningless. Those who use language will decide that falsification is a safer choice than truth.
According to an article by Joe Soucheray in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, there is a campus initiative underway at Duke University to ban certain words and phrases, including the term “man up.” This, as an on campus poster proclaims, because “I don’t believe in gender norms.” (Apparently "I" is all of us).
This takes me back to my college days when the feminists were first starting to get upset at the use of the word “history.” Why “history” and not “herstory” or “hertory” they asked. This is still an issue on some campuses and in other leftist enclaves. “Herstory” is in the dictionaries now meaning “history seen or written from a feminist point of view” or something along those lines. “History” can be that as well. I seem to recall many historical lessons on, say, the suffrage movement, Rosa parks, burning bras, etc., etc.
And, to be fair and even-handed…or neutral…why doesn’t this cut both ways?
Why are herb, herd, and here ok? What about “herald?” or “heraldic”? Those are important, elegant sounding words. Shouldn’t it really be “hisald” or “hisaldic”? And “Hercules”…ironic, don’t you think? “Hereafter”, “hereditary”, “heritage”, “hermaphrodite?” (both, so why not hismaphrodite?!).
And, of all words, “hero”. Why do the girls get to claim this one? Here are some of the Webster’s New Universal Unabridged definitions for “hero”: “a person who…has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal”; “a being of godlike prowess and beneficence…”; “a warrior- chieftain of special strength, courage or ability”; “a man of distinguished courage or ablility, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.” This is reverse-sexism at its ugliest.
(For more politically-correct language play, see my post “What’s in a Name? You’d be Surprised!” Remember, whoever controls the language controls thought. And who controls thought, controls everything).