Political Correctness

Political Correctness
Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson(1951--)
• a best-selling American author of
humorous books on travel, as well
as books on the English language
and on science. Born an American,
he was a resident of Britain for most
of his adult life before returning to
the US in 1995. In 2003 Bryson
moved back to Britain, living in the
old rectory of Wramplingham,
Norfolk, and was appointed
Chancellor of Durham University.
• The first thing to realize about Bill Bryson is that
he fits everywhere and nowhere, which is
perhaps the very thing that has given him the
ability to share places with all of us so vividly.
• a journalist and travel writer
• An American with a British soul
• Bryson is mild of voice and manner. He articulates
his thoughts -- in person and on paper -- in a nononsense manner that, nonetheless, always
leaves room for fun.
– What do you think of the following
– 女人真是头发长见识短。
• Bias
• prejudice
• discrimination
Words cut more than swords
• The pen is mightier than the sword.
• Words can be used as a shield or a weapon.
• Language is connected with an ideology. There
is a significant interplay of language, power
and politics..
What is Political Correctness?
• a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and
behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and
institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural,
sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or
ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts, and, as
purported by the term, doing so to an excessive extent.
• The avoidance of forms of expression or actions that
exclude, make little of, or insult certain racial, gender, or
other identity groups.
• It covers a wide area in the use of language and concepts
and is most evidently at work in a multicultural society.
• To prevent people being offended; to compel
everyone to avoid using words or behavior
that may upset homosexuals, women, nonwhites, the crippled, the stupid, the fat or the
To be less offensive: Examples
Black people, nigger—Afro- Handicapped, crippled--American people
differently disabled
Deaf---hearing impaired
Mankind---human beings
The underprivileged in
various circumstances
Old people—senior citizens
Illegal aliens--undocumented workers
Spinster----single woman
A fat woman---a fullfigured woman
Mentally ill---crazy
cancer = long incurable
sexual laborers for the
Juvenile delinquents---
• when an issue is tailored, so as not to offend
someone at the expense of accuracy and
integrity of the opinion, people who are
politically correct may no longer be honest
and upfront.
• Political correctness, when used excessively, is
first and foremost an attack on free speech,
and clear thinking.
• It has been abused by various extremists.
Freedom of speech, of the press, and even of
thought are undermined.
• In current usage, the term is primarily pejorative.
• The converse term "politically incorrect" came
into use as an implicit term of self-praise,
indicating that the user was not afraid to ignore
constraints associated with political correctness.
• Sarcastic---using words that are the opposite of what you mean in
order to be unpleasant to sb.讽刺的、挖苦的;表示苟刻伤人的讽
• Sarcasm: a taunting, sneering, cutting, or caustic remark; gibe or
• It is praise which is really an insult; sarcasm generally involves
malice, the desire to put someone down, e.g., "This is my brilliant
son, who failed out of college.“
• When giving feedback avoid sarcasm or highly negative remarks.
• Satire is the exposure of the vices or follies of an individual, a group,
an institution, an idea, a society, etc., usually with a view to
correcting it. Satirists frequently use irony.含有暴露某种东西,尤
• Satire is used to show foolishness or vice in
humans, organizations, or even governments,
by using sarcasm, ridicule, or irony.
• Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal”
• Irony: the discrepancy between what is said and
what is meant, what is said and what is done,
what is expected or intended and what happens,
what is meant or said and what others
understand, or two or more incongruous objects,
actions, persons juxtaposed.
• 意味着一种微妙的间接表达出来的讽刺
• An example of irony is someone who talks a lot
having nothing to say when asked a question.
• Run counter to -----be the opposite of, to
conflict with 相抵触,与—背道而驰
• The findings ran counter to all expectations.
• Your suggestions run counter to what we
arranged yesterday.
• Respectability---the fact of being considered
• People with respectability有地位的体面人
• They got married for the sake of respectability.
• Respectable---deserving respect 值得尊敬的、
• Earning a respectable income is everyone’s
• Respectful----showing respect表示尊敬的、
• Keep a respectful silence
• Keep a respectful distance
• Respective---belonging to each of those in
• We took our respective ways home.
• Go to your respective places.
• Fill in blanks
• It is hardly ______ to attend a funeral in heavy
• When the professor entered the auditorium,
everyone stood up and kept a ______ distance.
• Earning a ______ income is everyone’s dream.
• Candidates will be elected for the committee
according to their ______ strengths.
Paragraph One
• What’s the state motto of Maryland? What’s
wrong with its original translation? Why is
everyone satisfied with the altered version?
• How does the author introduce the topic in this
• Fatuous---very silly without seeming to know it愚
• A fatuous comment/grin
• The Chief was left speechless by his aide’s fatuous
• Emboss---to decorate metal, paper, leather etc.
with a raised pattern凸印
• Stationery embossed with the hotel’s name
• The hotel’s name was embossed on the
• Stationery----n. materials for writing
• Stationary----a. standing still, not moving
• A stationary target is easier to aim at.
• Hit on/upon----find by lucky chance or have a good
idea about
• I hope that someone will hit upon a solution to our
• Ingenious----showing cleverness or skill精巧的、心灵
• an ingenious device/cook
• Ingenuous----inexperienced, simple, trusting and
• An ingenuous smile
• You are too ingenuous. 你太老实了。
Fill in blanks:
• He is so ______; he can make the most
remarkable sculptures from the most ordinary
• I don’t think she lied at all. I believe she is an
______ person.
Rather than宁愿,不做而代之以
• 后接动词原形时,表示主观抉择。
He told a lie rather than get his friend into trouble.
Shall we go for a walk rather than watch television?
• rather than 后接不定式时,不定式可以带to,也可以不带to,但
当rather than位于句首时,则只能接不带to 的不定式。
I decided to write rather than(to) telephone.
They prefer to die fighting rather than(to) live in enslavement.
Rather than allow the vegetables to go bad, he sold them at half
• 还可接动名词:
I always prefer starting early, rather than leaving everything to the
last minute.
He was engaged in writing a letter rather than reading the
Paragraph Two
• Are all issues of sensitivity in language easily
solved as were the Maryland motto?
• Who coined the term “political correctness”?
When did it carry a pejorative tone? What are
mass media’s opinion towards it since then?
Would that
• Would introduces a subjunctive that-clause to
express an unfulfilled wish or a desired
• Would that we had seen her before she died.
• Would that I came to last week’s class to
attend the quiz.
• Negative word+ words in comparative
degree/negative words +so …as: This structure
indicates a superlative degree.
• Nothing is so easy as this.
• Nothing is easier than this. = This is the easiest thing.
• Paraphrase:
• If only all sensitive problems concerning the use of
language could be solved as easily as the legislators
in Maryland solved the problems of the motto by
providing it with a new translation. Unfortunately,
other problems will not be so easily resolved.
• Polarity----the situation when two tendencies,
opinions oppose each other截然对立、两极
There is a growing polarity between the left
and right wings of the party.
A polarity exists between the opinions of the
government and those of the trade unions.
• All-embracing---including or covering
Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly
Everything is an all-embracing work.
• Take on ---assume, put on a quality带有
Once cooked, the shellfish will take on a shade
of red.
A chameleon takes on the color of its
• pejorative (adj): (fml) (of a word, phrase, etc.)
expressing disapproval or suggesting that
someone or something is of little value or
derogatory vs. commendatory
• Range from---to
The children’s ages in our summer camp range
from 5 to 15.
Paragraph three
• What are the two opinions revolving around PC?
Such usage threatens speech freedom.
Two Beliefs
Some new inventions sound ridiculous.
• What does Bill Bryson think of Beard and
Cerf’s expressions used in their book?
• These words are excessively cautious, and
pompous, failing to express the meaning
• Examples:
Differently hirsute
Custody suite
prison cell
Chemically inconvenienced
Alternative dentation
false teeth
Stolen nonhuman animal
• Distill down to---boil down to归纳起来
This long article can be distilled down to the
writer’s general distrust of globalization.
• Shanghai----v. trick or force someone into
doing something诓骗、胁迫
We were shanghaied into agreeing to their
• Sanitize---make less unpleasant, clean sth.
• This sanitized account of his life does not
mention his time in prison.
• Sanitary---a.卫生的
• Poor sanitary conditions keep potential
tourists from visiting China.
• Neologism---a new word or expression新义
• The term “user-friendly” is a neologism that
has entered everyday speech from the
computer industry.
• Make capital out of ----use to one’s advantage
• The opposition parties are sure to make
political capital out of the government’s
• Euphemism—a pleasanter, less direct word used
instead of one unpleasant thought
• We are daily exposed to different situations in our life.
• Some experiences are too sensitive to be discussed, e.g.
death, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.
• to have sex with = to sleep with
• to go to the toilet = to powder one’s nose, to wash
one’s hands
• The term “early retirement” is nearly always a
euphemism for forced unemployment.
Euphemism and PC
• PC: Euphemism with attitude
Paragraph 4
• In what circumstance might these excessively
cautious expressions be harmful?
• When picked up by others and considered as a
spiritual guide
• More examples:
Involuntarily domiciled
Vocally challenged
The Gospel
• A gospel is an account,
often written, that
describes the life of Jesus.
According to the bible,
the "gospel", is also
defined as the "word"
that comes forth out of
the mouth of God.
• In a more general sense
the term "gospel" may
refer to the good news
message of the New
• The first four books of the
New Testament
containing the life and
teaching of Jesus Christ.
• Figuratively, it means sth.
that is believed to true.
E.g. What I told you about
doing business is gospel.
• Matthew马太福音, Mark
马可福音, Luke路加福音,
• if :(used before adj to introduce a contrast)
It was thoughtless if well-meaning.用意虽好,考
He’s a real gentleman, if a little arrogant at times.
• if anything: (used to express a tentative opinion
or after a negative statement to say that the
opposite is true.)
If anything definite can be said, this is it. 若能有
I’d say he was more like his father, if anything. 若
He is not thin---- if anything he’s rather on the
plump side.他可不瘦, 按说还有点胖。
• Domiciled----a. having one’s official place of
to be domiciled in the United Kingdom
He is currently domiciled in Berlin.
• Concoct-----make sth. by mixing or combining
The soup was concocted from up to a dozen
different kinds of fish.
He concocted a splendid meal from the leftovers.
• Padding----soft material that is placed inside
衬垫;words that are used to make a speech
or a piece of writing longer, but that do not
contain any interesting information赘语,凑
• These are the kind of phrases that politicians
put in their speeches for a bit of padding.
• 这种事情本身无伤大雅,完全可以一笑置
Paragraph 5-6
• What are the reasons for the authors to create
contrived neologisms?
• Sensitive topics
• Widely accepted usage
• Jokes made by the creators
• Sociologists or military people’s preferences
• Unreliable secondary resources
• Become ridiculous when used satirically
• Justifiable----reasonable, that can be justified
• Justifiable pride无可非议的自豪感
• Many critics assert that the violence of the
revolutionary years was justifiable on the
grounds of political necessity.
Date rape
• often referred to as
acquaintance rape, is
an assault or attempted
assault usually
committed by a new
acquaintance involving
sexual intercourse
without mutual
Pro-choice: support for the legalization
of abortion
• holding the belief that a pregnant woman
should have the right to choose abortion.
• It is in contrast to the pro-life movement. Prolife campaigners argue for the rights of fetuses
and for prohibition or restriction of abortion.
pro-lifers hold the view that the human fetus
is a person and therefore has a right to life.
Developmentally challenged
Mentally retarded
Terminological inexactitude
Temporary cessation of hostilities
Wildlife management
Killing, or permitting the hunting of
• Verify---v. to make certain that a statement is
• Verification---n.
• The defendant’s statement was verified by
several witnesses.
• These details are impossible to verify.
• Barbed----a. sharp and unkind, especially in
judging a person or their ideas挖苦的、伤人
Paragraph 7
• What is often overlooked in the discussion of PC?
• Dismissive----a. considering a person or an idea to
be not worthy of attention or respect轻蔑的、鄙
• Dismissive of sb./sth.
• Mr. Jones was dismissive of the report, saying
that it was riddled with inaccuracies.
• A dismissive gesture/tone
• Shrug dismissively
• Harrumph---to express disagreement or
disapproval, especially by making a sound in your
throat like a cough清嗓子
Don’t just harrumph; speak up your opinion.
• Commendable---worthy of or deserving praise
The tone of his speech is commendable.
• Sentiment-----thought or judgment based on
• Public sentiment rapidly turned Anti-American.
• Demean----cause to become less respected降
I wouldn’t demean myself by asking for charity.
The hotel required their residents to ask
permission to have overnight guests. The
residents found this demeaning.
• nigger (n.): (taboo, slang, considered extremely offensive) a
black person
• chink ( n. ): ( taboo, derog., slang) a Chinese
• spaz ( n. ): ( short for a spastic person) ( taboo, derog. ,
slang) one who suffers from a medical condition
characterized by spasms(short, jerky motions over which
the individual has no control)
• Note: In the late 1950's there were a number of very
amusing but quite cruel visual jokes involving spastics. Such
jokes are considered very rude and unacceptable today.
• fag ( n. ). ( short for faggot) (AmE, derog. , slang)
homosexual; ( BrE.derog. , slang) an unpleasant or silly
• waitrons and womenus: both are playful coinages. Waitron
is based on matron (a woman who is in charge of women
and/or children in a prison or police station). "Waitress"
derives from "waiter", whereas "waitron" would have no
masculine connection. In a similarly playful vein,
"womenus" would replace men-us, because since men
have menus, women should have their own "womenus“
• paraphrase:..., but it seems to me that this is a matter that
deserves rather more in the way of thoughtful debate and
less in the way of dismissive harrumphing or feeble jokes
about waitrons and womenus.
• ..., but I think we should give this matter more thought and
discussion, rather than laugh about ridiculous examples like
waitrons and womenus and dismiss the matter as
Para. 7 译文:
该接受诸如nigger(黑鬼)、chink (中国佬)、spaz (笨蛋)、 fag (同性
Paragraph 8、9
• What is the main idea of the 1992 article?
• There was an anti-PC movement, but silly examples still
• Which silly examples particularly attract the magazine’s
• Roundup----a gathering or bringing together of scattered
things, animal or people; a summary of the most important
• There has been a police roundup of all the suspects.
• The President ordered the roundup and imprisonment of
all corrupted politicians.
• Backlash----a strong but usually delayed
movement against a growing belief or practice,
especially against social or political
• The government is facing an angry backlash
from voters over the new tax.
• Underway----a. already started
A thorough investigation is underway to
discover who is responsible.
• Censure---v. criticize sb. severely and often
He was censured for leaking information to
the press.
• 1992年, 《美国新闻和世界报道》发表了
• Measure---amount; quantity
He has not become rich, but he has had a certain
measure of success.
The colonies were claiming a larger measure of
• Overweening---a. too proud and too sure of
Your modesty is only a cover for your
overweening conceit.
• paraphrase: But that, of course, is no more than my opinion, which is the
overweening problem with any discussion of bias-free usage -- it is
fearfully subjective, a minefield of opinions.
• What I say represents only my personal opinion. However, when it comes
to discussing language usage that is free of any bias, the discussion
almost always creates the impression that I am being too proud or too
sure of myself. This kind of discussion depends a great deal on the
opinion of the individuals, and consequently, is filled with danger.
• paraphrase: What follows are, necessarily and inescapably, mine.
• The following discussion consists of my own opinions: they are of course
my personal opinions and may be dangerous (for my reputation).
• Mine might be another pun of this text.
• 在一个种族多元化的国家里,鼓励学生调查市
或是“白痴”时, 《美国新闻和世界报道》
Paragraph 10-13
• What are the author’s views about PC?
• It is no doubt that English has sexual bias, but
we should not underestimate the extent of
such bias.
• The fact that some words or expressions have
been widely used and accepted cannot be
regarded as sufficient for their continuing use.
• To each of his own各有所好
• I’m French, true. But I prefer American
cooking.----To each his own.
• Tilt----a position in which one end is higher
than the other; an attempt to win sb. 倾斜;
The table is at a slight tilt.
She aims to have a tilt at the world
championship next year.
• Contort----twist violently out of shape扭曲、
His face contorted with anger.
Her mouth was contorted in a snarl.
• Flout---show no respect公然藐视、无视
Some motorists regularly flout the traffic rules.
• Venerability----n. the quality of deserving
• A venerable old man德高望重的老人
• Unexceptionable--- not giving any reason for
• A man of unexceptionable character一个品格
• Acuity---the ability to think, see or hear clearly
• Bandy about---spread some unfavorable ideas by
• Immunity---being under the state of special protection
• The police are offering immunity to witnesses who
help to identify the murderer.
• The spies were all granted immunity from prosecution.
• Immune---a.有免疫力、不受影响
• Adults are often immune to German measles.(风疹)
• You’ll eventually immune to criticism.
• Seamless----without a break, with no spaces
between the parts无缝的、无空隙的
• A seamless flow of talk连贯流畅的谈话
• Scrupulous----a. careful about paying attention
to every detail一丝不苟的、细致的;审慎正
• The room is scrupulously clean and tidy.
• Never do business unscrupulously.

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