Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Political Correctness and the Oxtail English Dictionary

I love languages; all of them. Even ones I have no hope in understanding. And let's face it a series of sentences directed at me in Cantonese might be the shopping list for my local take-away, or a declaration of undying love, I have no way of knowing (though probabilities would help me out), but it doesn't matter. Words just sound great.

Obviously, I have a particular affinity for the English language, whether it be the 'Ossome' Californian version, the 18th century 'authentic version' spoken in the Boston area, or my native (London-ish) vocabulary, well spiced and flavoured with Indian and French additives. (Moi perznal fayvrit be what spoken boi a Cornishmaan with ate pints o zoider in 'im.)

So it saddens me on my drive to work in the morning when I am verbally assaulted by a paragon of political correctness who wishes to remove a word from usage because it (allegedly) offends a section of society. This morning, it was the turn of a lady professor to complain about the fact that the extremely unfortunate victims of an apparent serial killer who is targeting prostitutes in Suffolk are being referred to as, well, prostitutes.

According to this person, all prostitutes are women first and foremost (which may badly surprise a small but significant number of rent-boys plying their trade in King's Cross, not to mention their clients) and there is no reason, therefore, to refer to them as prostitutes. This seems to fly in the face of common sense given that the Suffolk Strangler, as I have now heard the killer referred to in a shining example of alliterative inspiration, appears to be specifically targeting this particular working minority, and it's surely best to warn them of the fact.

When asked by a newspaper editor on the same interview as to what he should call these Working Girls, the lady responded with 'female workers in the sex service industry' - a slightly wider group of individuals, perhaps, but one which undoubtedly includes prostitutes. The man made a comment which I think was pointing out the unlikelihood of that phrase fitting into a headline, but I was narrowly avoiding being trashed by 38 tonnes of articulated Belgian at the time so I missed a bit.

Anyway, I shan't harp on, or indeed use the word again in what remains of this passage (or alleyway, or back of the car in a dark lane) except to say that I was wondering, as were the radio presenters, what the "Pretty Woman's" nearest equivalent to a trades union /civil rights group would have to say on the matter. Should anyone wish to ask them, they can be found under the name of "The English Collective of Prostitutes". I wish them the best of luck and the swift apprehension of the evildoer.

So, given that a valiant attempt has been made to remove a word from my dictionary, I shall have to counter by adding a new one, as revealed to me by my colleague Lew in the US. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to exasturbation, which is defined as the act of making a situation much worse than it was, all by one's self. An activity which regular readers will already know is one of my own particular talents.


Tengrain said...

Grumbler - welcome to the Blog-o-sphere.

I've linked you at - and I will try to keep up with your ramblings, which as you may recall, always amused me.

Best regards,


Tegwyn Ravens Wing Fair Comment said...

Wonderful quick read.