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COKTOE said:

 

Darwinianevolution said:

I have always been fascinating with this topic. The ability of a word to have an inherent offensive value in the eyes of some people is a very interesting thing to discuss. A word is a concept, a human construct used to convey certain information, and in this cases, at some point they become "toxic", for lack of a better description, and their use becomes taboo in general, either for the general population or for certain groups of people. In moments like this, I like to put forward this book as an interesting case:

This book is a psychology  "Trato Familiar del Subnormal", which translates to literally "Family Treatment for the Retarded". Now, this is quite old, as you can see, and it was written in the 70s, back when the word "Subnormal" could be used freely and with no real inherent toxicity. Back then, it was used as an insult too, but there was no real objection with using it in a professional term. Now you'd probably be sued if you used it like that, even if it's in a medical context. There seems to be a process whereas some words acquire negative implications, regardless of context, and I don't know if that's allright. And the curious thing is, this applied only to certain concepts, and not to others. Do blind people feel offended when you call it that to someone who's not paying attention? Do deaf people feel offended when you call it that to someone who's ignoring you? You could say it's a "different context", but then we'd have to discuss where's the line between acceptable and unacceptable. A word should be just that, a word. It shouldn't have that much power regardless of context. And I think context is the key here. Friends insulting each other during a friendly conversation can say absolute obscenities to each other and not feel offended, but those same words can become suddenly aggravating when the same people use them in a completely different context. A word isn't inherently offensive, it's just offensive when the context of that conversation really makes it so.

 

I like this example too, although it's a bit far from the offensiveness discussed here.



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