Stanford puts the word ‘American’ on list of ‘harmful language’

Stanford University has published an index of “harmful language,” which includes words that have been deemed ableist, ageist or racist. Among these is the word “American.”

The University will use “The Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” to remove harmful words from all school IT systems and websites. They also hope to educate people about the impact that “racist, violent and biased” words have.

Some of these words include “grandfather,” “brave,” “master,” “chief,” “Pocahontas,” “abort,” “Karen,” and “child prostitute,” according to the UK’s Daily Mail.

The University said word “American” should be replaced with “US citizen” because it may suggest “that the US is the most important country in the Americas.”

The index offered alternatives to many of the harmful words.

“Walk-in” for example, should be replaced with “drop-in” or “open office” because they said it promotes “Ableist language that trivializes the experiences of people living with disabilities.”

“Man hours” was removed because it “reinforces male-dominated language.” They instead suggested using “person hours” or “effort hours.” 

They made the same suggestion for all words ending in man or woman, as it is apparently not inclusive.

They also addressed the phrase “kill(ing) two birds with one stone,” and said it “normalizes violence against animals.”

An “addict” should instead be referred as a “person with a substance abuse disorder,” and “committed suicide” was changed to “died by suicide.”




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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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