Are Euphemisms, Political Correctness and “Soft Language” Sucking the Life Out of our Communication?

George Carlin thought so…

(Warning: Explicit Language)

… and that was years ago.

This phenomenon has certainly continued to progress.  Our need to give everything a “comfortable label” has created an entirely different language, in many ways.  Of course, there are those who argue that these words remove stigmas and give people a positive sense of self.  If that is the case, then I am all for it.

But, what concerns me is this particular point that George made in the video:

Poor people used to live in slums. Now the ‘economically disadvantaged’ occupy ‘substandard housing’ in the inner-cities. And a lot of them are broke. They don’t have ‘negative cash-flow’, they’re broke. Because many of them were fired. In other words, management wanted to ‘curtail redundancies in the human resources area’, and so many workers are no longer ‘viable members of the workforce’.

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that.

As a writer, I care deeply about words and language and, as a humanist, I care deeply about people.  That’s why I worry about the way that we are sanding the edges off of words that have specific and very important meanings.

For example, poverty can be ignored if we call it “economically disadvantaged.”  If we dehumanize an issue with our words, then we can soften  the blow to OURSELVES, but are we softening the blow of the problem for those who are suffering?

No. I don’t think so.

And, that may be where the problem lies.

What do you think?



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