Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Word Choice

The Special Olympics launched a print campaign to stop the use of the word "retard" in casual conversation by loosely using other derogatory words in relaxed formats. BBDO New York created the ads.

This ad campaign caught my attention because when I was 15, I was called out at summer camp, for saying something like "that's so retarded" in the dining hall, during lunch. A Frost Valley Counselor In Training pointed out to me how inappropriate that was, especially considering that our camp has a MAC - Mainstreaming at Camp program for developmentally disabled youth. I was mortified - that was a totally new concept, for me. I never used that phrase again, and I get uncomfortable whenever I hear someone else use it.

A few years ago, George Lakoff, a professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, taught me that a lot of commonly used english words and phrases originated from wars and the military. Once you become conscious of this, it's hard to avoid the use of military-oriented words, even in your every day life.

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