Excuse my… umm… What?
Recently I heard yet again, “Excuse my French” before someone swore. Really? That wasn’t French.
Sometimes people don’t realize what they’re saying because some phrases have become so common.
No matter where you are, I think it’s time we take a look at our language (I was guilty of #4 until I did research for this post.)
1 Indians (when referring to aboriginal groups in Canada).
Aboriginal refers to First Nations (Mi’kmaw, Maliseet, Mohawk, etc.), Metis (communities with First Nations and European culture), and Inuit.
2 Too many chiefs, not enough indians or Lowest man on the totem pole
Both of these references are insulting to First Nations people. For the latter phrase, it’s also totally inaccurate because every image on the totem pole is part of a sacred story.
5 That’s so gay!
Being gay is neither good nor bad. It just is. It shouldn’t be an insult.
6 What a retarded thing to do!
There’s nothing good about the word retarded.
7 He gyped me out of $10.
That’s insulting the Romany people, often and inaccurately called gypsies.
They’re actually Inuit, not Eskimos
9 DWA (driving while Asian) or references to women drivers
Why do we need to generalize? People are people. Let it go. Sigh. Read some of the research on genders and driving.
10 Referring to he for employees or managers, admin jobs as she, or using words like man-hours.
Aim for inclusive words like they, s/he in writing, business people, staff hours, etc.
11 Just ask the girls at the front desk to give you a parking pass.
Avoid referring to women as girls and men as boys.
(Jason Peters of Nation2Nation Consulting confirmed how to refer to aboriginal communities correctly ~ Thanks, Jay!)
Also, if you want to learn more about offensive language you may be using without realizing it, check out these lists from:
What phrase or word are you replacing in your conversation now?