The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
Octavian
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

People should feel free to speak plain English

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/29/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,463 times Debate No: 8819
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (6)
Votes (5)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

Plain-speaking people like to 'call a spade a spade'. Well, they would like to, but all too often they are not allowed to. Why? Because whilst a 'spade' may be a garden tool, it is also a pejorative term for a black person; the etymology being 'as black as the ace of spades'. As a result, the use of this word is widely frowned upon.

http://www.worldwidewords.org...

But is this really likely to cause offence? Do we really have to refer to this implement as a 'shovel', even tough the aforementioned garden tool doesn't have the pointed blade required for digging? I mean, If you asked your neighbour if you could borrow a spade to dig a vegetable patch, unless he was an extreme right-wing plantation owner, he would be unlikely to offer you the use of one of his Negroid workers, would he?

Another example of this over-sensitivity to linguistic terms relates to the mentally retarded and the euphemisms people are told to employ to refer to them. These cause great confusion, especially with children. For example, reproduced hereunder is the transcript of a conversation that I recently overheard.

Father - Son, your mother and I have decided to put you in a children's home. We think it's for the best.

Son - Why dad?

Father - Because you've got 'special needs' and we can't look after you any more.

Son - Well, I know I'm allergic to nuts, but surely...

Father - No, no, boy, I mean it's because you have 'learning difficulties'.

Son - Okay, I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the box and I do find it difficult to concentrate in class sometimes, but perhaps if you helped me with my homework instead of sitting in front of the TV drinking beer...

Father - No, son, that's not it. You have to go and live in a specialist care home because you are what paediatric experts refer to as 'developmentally challenged'.

Son - What's 'dev...', 'devo...'. What does that mean, dad?

Father - It means you're a f***king moron, now go and pack your bags.

A further notable example of this linguistic nonsense relates to military press releases. A few years ago in Iraq, thousands of American troops were ordered to 'pacify Fallujah'. Actually, they didn't 'pacify' it, otherwise they would have gone into town and handed out Greenpeace leaflets and rainbow flags. Instead, they went in and shot the place up. We were informed afterwards that, despite their best endeavours some 'private contractors had caused some collateral damage'. What does that mean? It means, in fact, that some trigger-happy mercenaries employed by the US Army had gone in and gunned down a large number of innocent women and children. Of course, the military command said that they weren't covering up the reality in that statement, no, they were just being 'economical with the truth'.

Now, a celebrity's lawyer makes the following statement:

"Upon leaving a public house in a tired and emotional state last night, my client was involved in an altercation with a gravitationally challenged gentleman and, as a consequence of their heated discussion, law enforcement representatives were called to attend the scene and they subsequently invited my client to accompany them back to a secure environment where he is now currently relaxing at Her Majesty's pleasure in a custody suite pending the payment of a �1 million gesture of goodwill."

Or he could say:

"Last night, my client got drunk in a pub and then got into a fight with a fat bloke outside. The police were called and they arrested my client and locked him up in a cell, which is where he'll stay until he pays the �1 million bail."

They both say relate the same information, but I think you'll agree the latter account is far more succinct. All this gobbledygook is unnecessarily confusing.

Moving on, as an animal lover you might be tempted to financially support a 'wildlife management project', believing it was a scheme to protect native species' natural habitats but not realising that in fact what they meant by 'managing wildlife' was supporting the landed gentry's 'birthright' to hunt down foxes using horse and hounds.

http://www.mfha.org.uk...

Finally, I'm sure you know that AIDS stands for - 'Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome". It hardly trips off the tongue, though, does it? But how many of you realised that prior to 1982 it was known as GRID which stands for "Gay-Related Immune Deficiency"?

http://en.wikipedia.org...

This is much easier to remember and pronounce and would, if it continued in use, have saved millions of lives by alerting the male homosexual community to their heightened risk of contracting the disease. But they didn't want to stigmatise gay men so millions of people lost their lives, simply as a consequence of our obsession with politically correct speech.

In the light of these arguments, I urge you, dear voters, to join my campaign for plain English by voting Pro.

Thank you.
Octavian

Con

This is a thought provoking topic, and I thank my opponent for casting it into light.

Now, you say that even though the term 'spade' carries with it negative racial meaning, it should be able to be used in its original form that meant a garden tool. Even though in this case us not saying the word significantly hampers utility and practicality there are reasons why when words gain negative meaning that they are seldom used afterwards.

Take for example, the word 'faggot.' Ask anybody on the street what the word 'faggot' means and they will most certainly tell you that it is a pejorative term to refer to homosexuals. However, the term 'faggot' used to mean "a bundle of sticks" (source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com...). Even though the English language lost an effective term for describing a bundle of sticks, this does not excuse its use now because of its largely pejorative meaning. Now, we just have to say a bundle of sticks, a grouping of sticks, etc. This is much better than potentially severely offending someone, whether they are homosexual or not.

As for your argument in general that we should use more general terms to avoid confusion and wasting time, this often does entirely the opposite. As humans we have created so many words so that we can accurately describe everything around us and everything that we have created, physically and mentally. True comprehension requires exactness, and although saying "he walked into the building is fine", it is much more effective to say "he walked into the post office," or "he walked into the church," etc.

Simply stated, the whole span of the English language is beautiful. We have words to describe almost everything, and part of the beauty of it all is being able to articulate fully expressing everything clearly that is on one's mind. Shortening, simplifying, and/or dumbing down English is no better than what Ingsoc in 1984 did with creating Newspeak, it simply limits our abilities to think and articulate as human beings.
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

I extend my thanks to Octavian for accepting this debate and I apologise for the delay in my reply.

My opponent wrote: "Ask anybody on the street what the word 'f*ggot' means and they will most certainly tell you that it is a pejorative term to refer to homosexuals."

My opponent was obviously referring to an American street because if you asked someone on a British street where you could lay your hands on some really lovely f*ggots they would direct you to nearest supermarket.

http://www.tesco.com...

Over here, a ‘f*ggot' has nothing to do with homosexuality but that didn't prevent gay rights extremists from getting a supermarket commercial banned for using that word.

http://www.thesun.co.uk...

My opponent then wrote: "As for your argument in general that we should use more general terms to avoid confusion and wasting time, this often does entirely the opposite."

Actually, this is the opposite of my argument because I believe we should say 'f*ggot' rather than have to studiously avoid using it and try instead to describe this traditional West Country pork and liver meatball some other way, just in case we might offend some ultra-sensitive homosexual man that might be within earshot.

Curiously, my opponent went on to write: "Simply stated, the whole span of the English language is beautiful. We have words to describe almost everything".

Yes, this is true and reaffirms my previous assertion - since we have words to describe almost everything, we should be allowed to use them. 'F*ggot' might be a term for gay men in America, but here it is what we call our traditional pork meatballs. As previously noted, it is also a term for a ‘bundle of sticks' but in North America that meaning has fallen into disuse since the word was adopted by the male homosexual community. This is a great shame because they now have to use three words instead of one, just in case they offend anyone.

As a side note, by the way, although there are over a million words in English compared to a mere 17,000 in Pennsylvanian Dutch, we have no equivalent to their ‘Aarschgnodle', which literally translated means "arse noodle" and refers to the strands of excrement found in the hairs surrounding the anus. Quite why they need such a specific word for that, but can cope without so many others, I don't know, you'd have to ask an Amish!

http://www.languagemonitor.com...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

In conclusion, I affirm that we should be able to use the word that exactly describes our meaning rather than beat around the bush in an effort not to accidentally offend anyone – we should feel free to call a spade ‘a spade' and not ‘a shovel with a pointed blade'.

Thank you.
Octavian

Con

In response to the main arguments of my opponent, it is important to acknowledge that language is always evolving. Words change meanings over time and new words are always created, often based off of other words. If you look at the English of the Dark Ages, the English of the Renaissance, and Modern English you will barely to be able to tell they are speaking the same language. Humans are therefore being lazy when they cannot adapt and create new words as the meanings of words change, and help the process of linguistic evolution.

As well, in response to my opponents earlier argument about how the word GRID was replaced with AIDS, imagine if malaria was called NID (Negro Infectious Disease), sure it is easier to say, but think of how bigoted it is to name a disease after one group in an offensive manner.
Debate Round No. 2
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Lifeisgood 8 years ago
Lifeisgood
My RFD:

B/A: Pro.
Conduct: Tie.
S/G: Tie.
Arguments: Pro. How could I possibly vote otherwise?
Sources: Pro. Con only used a dictionary source, which doesn't count in this case.
Posted by Common_Sense_Please 8 years ago
Common_Sense_Please
I can't vote, but I think Pro won the debate. However, I think it's amusing that Pro wants us to be able to say words like faggot in their literal sense, but won't type it: "f*ggot"
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
RFD:
B: TIED
A: PRO
CONDUCT: TIED (No major infractions)
Spelling/Grammar: TIED (No major infrations)
Arguments: PRO (met his burden; CON did not adequately refute his case or the resolution)
Sources: PRO (had several more; CON's only source was a definition)
Posted by Lifeisgood 8 years ago
Lifeisgood
I cannot properly import the level of gratification with which this debate has furnished me.

In other words, I loved this debate.
Posted by Cody_Franklin 8 years ago
Cody_Franklin
I absolutely do hate the idea of being politically correct; it makes me absolutely furious; nobody has the right not to be offended, honestly. I'm hardly allowed to even say that someone is black anymore, for risk of getting jumped in an alley or shot at; I have to use the phrase "African-American", when I'm sure that they haven't even glimpsed the shores of Africa; I would vote for this debate, but my extreme bias would have me vote PRO; so, for the sake of fairness, I'll have to refrain from voting at all, even though I do think that PRO legitimately won this debate.
Posted by Xer 8 years ago
Xer
RFD:
-B/A - Con/Con
---Because I like to point out when people speak improper English.
-Conduct - Tied
-S&G - Tied
-Arguments - Pro
---Pro did an overall better job of affirming the resolution. Humor also played a part in it.
-Sources - Pro
---Pro had 7 and a video, Con had 1.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by PsyPhiGuy 7 years ago
PsyPhiGuy
brian_egglestonOctavianTied
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Vote Placed by Lifeisgood 8 years ago
Lifeisgood
brian_egglestonOctavianTied
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Vote Placed by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
brian_egglestonOctavianTied
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Vote Placed by patsox834 8 years ago
patsox834
brian_egglestonOctavianTied
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Vote Placed by Xer 8 years ago
Xer
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