“Man up” a slang expression used to mean you should toughen up, don’t be weak; effectively act like a ‘man.’ But as Vice puts it, ‘stoicism, courage, discipline, bravery, the ability to rise to the occasion and strength, are not the sole property of men.’ The expression is a cousin to “growing a pair,” which has a similar meaning, and the female derogatory expression “being a pussy” i.e. you’re being weak. Sexist language has been considered an example of subtle sexism (Swim et al., 2004) and is known to contribute to gender stereotyping (e.g. Maass and Arcuri, 1996.) But this language impacts women more negatively than men, as men are in the position of power.
“Fireman” i.e. someone who puts out fires. However, the name suggests that its only men that have this job in the same way only men can be the “tax man” or “chairman.” It is not coincidence that these historically, and arguably still are, were jobs done by men, but these terms ‘belittle the feminist movement’ (Cameron 1995). Here “fireman” is the only one that appears to have moved into the 21st century with its general neutral equivalent “firefighter.” The generic use of masculine forms prevailing in many languages has far-reaching consequences in restricting the degree of female visibility (Ouellette and Wood 1998, Verplanken and Aarts 1999). This language disadvantages females as it means females may perceive a lack of fit between themselves and potential job prospect when masculine forms are used rather than gender inclusive terms.
“Minority” although used to refer to ethnicities in a country that is in fewer numbers compared to the dominant ethnicity, this term makes people cringe. Its root is minor, which means unimportant, insignificant, inconsequential, and inferior. Referring to an ethnicity said way keeps social thinking that “minorities” are indeed ‘minor,’ which is not the case. Dale Spender says that ‘language is such an influential force in shaping our world it is obvious that those who have the power to make the symbols and their meanings are in a privileged and highly advantageous position’ when referring to our male-dominated language but the quote is also applicable to whites’ power in the past and the power that still exists today. It is a term in the same boat as “ethnic” if one is referring to people or “race” which as a biological category, a genetic typology or a scientific reality does not exist, yet both are still used to distinguish between people who look different. ‘Euphemism is everyman’s sin. Dysphemism is more selective’ (Dwight Bolinger 1980), these terms can de-humanise groups of people.
“Ethnic Cleansing” It implies that the victim of genocide is inherently “dirty.” Why is it O.K. to linguistically side with the perpetrator?
“Rule of Thumb” — Originates from the old English dictum that a husband could not beat his wife or children with any stick wider than his thumb. (Not seen as politically incorrect though?)
The term ‘actor’ for both males and females in the profession is preferable to the distinction which ‘actress’ makes, given that, as Merkel, Maass, and Frommelt observed (looking at Italian), feminised terms imply lower competence to listeners than gender-inclusive and masculine descriptions of occupations. The associations of ‘actor’, being a serious profession, and part of a grand tradition, contrasts the image of a sexualised Hollywood figure which ‘actress’ evokes, and use of this gender-exclusive language perpetuates this negative stereotype (argue Sczesny, Moser and Wood) that men are the best actors, or, similarly, for example, that only a man can be qualified enough to be a ‘chairman’. Crystal deems the movement towards gender-inclusive language, pushed by feminism, one of the most successful examples of prescriptivism, but where the push to ‘control’ language is a means by which to aid equal valuation of men and women, as opposed to being bent on preserving arbitrary distinctions and preferences, we can see a meaningful difference between political correctness and prescriptivism.
In the same way, inherent in ‘sportsmanship’ are the assumptions that a) that men are best qualified to participate in sport, and b) that the practice of being a gracious loser and a fair player is somehow more achievable as a man, or characteristic of men. Whorf lays the groundwork for linguistic relativism, and even determinism, which is later taken up by Spender when she terms language a ‘shaper of ideas’, even a ‘trap’, when he comments that ‘we dissect nature along the lines laid down by our native languages’; that these lines cause us to associate good qualities with men exclusively is problematic, and only builds on and entrenches the prejudices and misconceptions which shape sexist gender roles.
Finally, the politically-incorrect ‘queer’ has come largely to be replaced with the more respectful ‘LGBT person’ because its connotations of oddness and difference, as McConnell and Fazio notes, ‘convey[…] meaning about the persons involved’. The neologistic initialism not only is more neutral, but detaches the term of reference from historic intolerant attitudes towards the gay community. Cameron asks whether ‘we control language or does it control us?’ which raises the question of the potential influence of such language use upon our thinking about certain groups, and whether removing derogatory nouns like ‘queer’, or ‘retard’ for mentally-ill people (which implies a backward-ness and lower value) really can shape how we perceive and conduct ourselves towards the people which they refer to.
The pejorative term “Faggot” is used as a generic insult, mainly aimed at gay men which is in itself is viewed as politically incorrected as there is no similar term to insult straight men or women. This is a clearly indicates a minority group in society who are further distinguished through terms such as “coming out” which Cameron may claim highlights the “democracies made up of diverse populations subscribing to a variety of beliefs and customs to preserve a common culture.” Which in turn also reinforces the belief that homosexuality is still, in the 21st century, separated from the traditional ‘expectations’.
Spender indicates that “We as humans have created the categories of male-as-norm and females as deviant.” through much of our language use, for example gendered language such as “man up”, “chairman” and “lady doctor”. All of which focus on male superiority and give the impression that women should strive to be like males who are clearly indicated to be in some way better than women, most notable “man up”, nobody is likely to tell a person to “woman up” never mind “person up” which in terms of Political Correctness would be the target statement.
Sexist language is often avoided as it is considered ‘politically incorrect’ however much sexist language is centred around women, with there being no male equivalent for “Whore, Bitch or Slag,” being just a few of the 200 derogatory terms used solely for women. If the Sapir-Wharf hypothesis of Linguistic Determination is to be believed then this language implies that women in the opinion of some who use such language are considered as less respectful of many. Pejorative language such as “Whore and Slag,” also have sexual connotations implying that women are more promiscuous than men further reinforcing the view that men should be ‘in control’ and women should be wives, just another attempt to restrict women.
Snowman – “representation of a human figure in compressed snow”
This term is politically incorrect due to its reference to snow figures as he. This, of which, subtly impacts the way we think, implying that all snow figures created are male. And so this generic masculinity form discourages gender neutrality and so leaves women at a disadvantage due to this type of language usage. In which, Sczesny, Moser and Wood (2014) states of how the root of such problem stems from the ideologies regarding women. Therefore, suggesting that masculinity is the superior gender characteristic. This can also be seen with words like “airmen” or “policemen”.
Oriental – “of, form, or characteristic of Asia, especially East Asia”
This term is considered offensive and so is politically incorrect by referring people, of a particular heritage, as something somewhat undesirable and are attached with further negative connotations. However, it liteally mean “orient, or of the East” This way of denoting people doesn’t necessarily degrade them. Within Dwight Bolinger (1980) Power and Deception theory, the concluded that “Euphemism is everyman’s sin. Dysphemism is more selective” Such words can “de-humanise” particular groups of people. His example, was referred to WW2 and how Hitler labelled Jews as “creatures” representing an image as them to vermin. Therefore, formed many opinions of Jews in the wrong way. In this case, all people from Asia, or Sian decent have been labelled as “Oriental” because of where they come from and who they are. Resulting, relatively similar, of negative opinions of this group of people.
Crazy – “mad, especially as manifested in wild or aggressive behaviour”
Yet, I also mean “extremely enthusiastic”. Now, this term is used to stigmatise those who are mentally ill, just like how “nigger” stigmatises black people. This blatant type of language creates the opinion that some people are “insane” all because they have an illness. This term can be highly offensive, when in reference to this. Kate Burridge states that “Offensiveness is never an intrinsic quality of the word, but the way it is used.” This type of pejorative language can stigmatise groups of peoples, just like others terms such as “bitch” or “nigger” This creates a negative perception of this group of people such “contamination” ranges on a scale and forms negative connotations.
A word which some may not consider to be politically correct is the qualitative adjective “manmade” which means produced or manufactured by people (as opposed to coming in to being naturally). This word is problematic as it generalises jobs in manufacturing as a male profession, potentially leading women in the field to feel undervalued compared to their male counterparts. “Manmade” is similar in its exclusionary nature to words such as the concrete nouns “fireman” and “policeman” which both imply that those professions are also inherently masculine. Such gendered terms can shape people’s attitudes negatively, reinforcing archaic gender roles. Sapir and Whorf’s hypothesising would support this evaluation, as Swim, Mallett and Stangor (2006) observed that their research “linked gender-exclusive language with sexist beliefs and attitudes”.
The use of “African-American” as either a noun or adjective to describe any and all black residents of the USA is not politically correct as it is a racist generalisation that all black Americans have an African identity, whereas most will have lived in the States their whole lives. Also, given the fact there is no equivalent term for white Americans (“European-American, for example) the term insinuates that to be American is to be white and so all black Americans are only half American. This is similar to the negative connotations of the adjective “half-cast”. Dwight Bolinger (1980) keenly emphasised how language has the power to influence people’s thoughts and attitudes, so going by this conclusion it would appear beneficial to replace the problematic term with another more neutral one. Sapir and Whorf’s hypothesising is also relevant here, as similarly to Bolinger they would argue that the perpetuated use of “African-American” would reinforce the negative attitudes already attached.
The noun “dyke” as a term for women attracted to other women would strike many as being utterly inappropriate to use in the 21st century. The term, although having been appropriated by the lesbian community, originated as an extremely derogatory term for the group and those on the outside would still seek to avoid using it unless they deliberately meant to cause offense. This example is similar in this way to others often deemed offensive by the LGBT community, such as “faggot” and “poof”. Opponents of political correctness would argue that these words should be able to be used by others if they can be used by the group themselves. But Deborah Cameron would point out, these opponents are only trying to avoid losing their “freedom to imagine that our linguistic choices are inconsequential” to political correctness.