2002.11.13 A few styles of the times

Written by David Green.


What a coincidence. Three days after my wife tripped around the proper way to describe the parents of a grade school friend (they were what’s commonly known as deaf and dumb), I receive an Internet link to the National Center on Disability & Journalism. The group provides a style guide for writers.

Let’s move directly to the D’s. Colleen knew that deaf and dumb was not likely the preferred phrase, and she was right. Neither is deaf-mute.

Mute is a derogatory term referring to a person who physically cannot speak. It implies that people who do not use speech are unable to express themselves, but they could use another method such as American Sign Language.

Dumb is said to imply that a person cannot express him or herself, but they can usually use some method.

Deaf is OK, but the style guide suggests asking the person about their preference. It might be “hard of hearing” or “hearing impaired” or “hearing loss.”

Seeing Eye dog is a registered trademark. You might want to go with service animal or assistance animal. Service animals are usually dogs, but not always. They generally assist people with vision problems, but they can also fetch objects for someone in a wheelchair.

This might come as a surprise, but loony bin and nuts are not acceptable terms. Nor is it proper to refer to a non-responsive person as a vegetable.

Another style book is called “A Guide to Covering Indian Country.” We’re asked to avoid words such as brave, buck, half-breed, injun and squaw, but Indian can be all right.

If you’re talking about a person from India, use Indian. If you’re talking about a person from India who now lives in America, use Indian American.

If you’re talking about the indigenous people of the United States, then it’s American Indian, although some people prefer Native American. It’s best to ask for a preference. Most of us—those born in this country but not American Indians—should be referred to as native born.

Then there’s the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. There’s a medley of phrases and acronyms that probably haven’t yet entered your vocabulary.

There are DLs and MSMs, FTMs and LGBTs. Pink triangle, transgender, intersex—these are appearing in the Observer for the first time. FTM, for example, is Female to Male.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists explains that Spanglish is the hybrid of terms using both Spanish and English: “I’m going to visit la familia for dinner.”

A journalist’s guide to Arabs explains that Islam is the religion, Muslim is a follower of the religion, and it’s Muslim, not Moslem. Arab is a noun for a person; Arabic is the name of a language; Arabian is an adjective that refers to Saudi Arabia.

 The South Asian Journalists Association provides the most interesting style book of all. There’s a lot of dictionary to the guide, as well as usage suggestions.

Bandana, bungalow, calico, cashmere, dungaree, grieve, jungle, pajamas and pepper are a few of many words that derive from Asian languages.

Naranga to auranja to narang to orange. Sirsaker and shir-o-shakar to seersucker. Chaamp and chaampnaa to shampoo. Sakara and sukkar to sugar.

Desi (pronounced THEY-see) is the name for people who trace their ancestry to South Asia. It comes from a Hindi word meaning “from my country.” Desi has been described as the Hindi version of the word “homeboy.”

ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) is a slightly derogatory trip through the alphabet (from A to Z) about the first-generation South Asians born in the U.S. who are somewhat “confused” about their Asian roots.”

“American Born Confused Desi, Emigrated From Gujarat, Housed In Jersey, Keeping Lotsa Motels, Named Omkarnath Patel, Quickly Reached Success Through Underhanded Vicious Ways, Xenophobic Yet Zestful.”

I think we once stayed in one of Omkarnath’s motels outside of Youngstown. He’s the one who gave us the unrequested wake-up call at 4:30 a.m. Such a zest for life.

     – Nov. 13, 2002
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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