Language has power. It gives power and it takes it away. That little ditty we learned as kids - sticks and stones may break my bones, but words with never hurt me - is complete bollocks. Words can hurt, both at a personal and a societal level.
I’ve been finding a lot written on how language can help or harm efforts to increase diversity. From the obvious - using the suffix ‘man’ on every job role which instantly limits who seems capable of performing that job, to the more subtle.
I’ll start with a couple of articles I found recently, which are at the more subtle end of the spectrum.
The Linguistic Turf Wars Over the Singular ‘They’
A good historical look at the origin of ‘they’ and how the current argument that it’s not grammatical are complete rubbish (you don’t hear anyone complaining about using ‘you’ in the singular yet the ‘correct’ singular version is ‘thou’ which we dropped centuries ago.
PRI’s The World In Words podcast recently did an episode on ‘They’ which is a good partner to the above article.
Another word that causes all sorts of problems - objective.
4 Reasons Demanding ‘Objectivity’ in Social Justice Debates Can Be Oppressive
Objectivity has become, particularly for those fighting against social justice issues, the be-all-and-end-all. As soon as you show any personal stake in an issue you’re arguments are rejected as ‘not being objective’, regardless of whether your arguments have merit. This is a great little listicle that explains why ‘objectivity’ has become so popular with those trying to maintain the status quo