University Prepares How Not To Offend Language Guide

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David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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The University of Arkansas has written a language guide for students that is vaguely Orwellian in its attempt to avoid any offensive terms by replacing them with “inclusive language,” Campus Reform reports.

The university is requesting that students please stop calling millennials “lazier than previous generations,” as such a description might be “seen as offensive.”

As their guide to “using inclusive language” maintains, students should “watch for terms that are used to advance a particular political opinion or phrasing that can be seen as offensive,” like saying “lazier” when trying to describe how millennials are different than other generations.

Rather than resorting to “lazy,” the guide offers the possibility of just suggesting that millennials merely have “a different idea of the value of work than other generations,” noting the “bias” in a term like “lazy” and how it “shows bias by insulting an entire demographic rather than seeking to understand that demographic.”

Of course, these rules also apply to avoiding sexist language and rigorously conforming to using “gender-neutral language when referring to a profession or title that is not gender specific,” and write “chairperson” instead.

The guide was originally intended for business correspondence so there are a lot of instructions that seem especially pertinent to an office environment, including the strong recommendation that you should never refer to “the office” as “his office” because it’s not gender-neutral.

The guide reserves its harshest condemnation for politically charged words like “illegal aliens” and “entitlement programs,” never suggesting that the alternatives for these words — “undocumented immigrants” and “government assistance programs” — are arguably more politically charged and subjective.

“Inclusive language is a key component of both academic and business communication,” the guide declares. “As opposed to biased language, which assumes a subject’s gender, race, or sexual orientation, inclusive language allows the writer to structure sentences more generally.”

In a response to Campus Reform, the university’s manager of media relations, Steve Voorhies, suggested the word “guide” was too stringent and was really a “tip sheet” because the advice to students was merely a list “of what most business and technical communication textbooks consider commonly accepted tenets of inclusive business communication.”

Said Voorhies, “The goal of this tip sheet is to help students avoid and/or solve business communication problems that might arise in their professional lives.”