Person-first language!

spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Registered Users Posts: 17,898 Curl Virtuoso
The choice to use "person first language" goes beyond political correctness. Here's one example.

Comments

  • claudine191claudine191 Registered Users Posts: 8,221 Curl Connoisseur
    I see the point of this, but it is somewhat cumbersome. Still, I can't see how it's a bad idea.
  • PerriPPerriP Registered Users Posts: 6,613 Curl Neophyte
    I think it's pretty interesting.

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  • claudine191claudine191 Registered Users Posts: 8,221 Curl Connoisseur
    Applying it generally, though, could cause some objections. I for one would prefer to remain a redhead rather than a person with red hair.
  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Registered Users Posts: 17,898 Curl Virtuoso
    Just some more (and opposing) thoughts on this topic. Sorry, it's from Wiki, but the content is still good and succinct imo.


    People-first language is a type of linguistic prescription in English. It aims to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities and is sometimes referred to as a type of disability etiquette. People-first language can also be applied to any group that is defined by a condition rather than as a people: for example, "people who live on the street" rather than "homeless."
    The basic idea is to use a sentence structure that names the person first and the condition second, for example "people with disabilities" rather than "disabled people" or "disabled", in order to emphasize that "they are people first". Because English syntax normally places adjectives before nouns, it becomes necessary to insert relative clauses, replacing, e.g., "asthmatic person" with "a person who has asthma." Furthermore, the use of to be is deprecated in favor of using to have.
    By using such a sentence structure, the speaker articulates the idea of a disability as a secondary attribute, not a characteristic of a person's identity. Critics of this rationale point out that separating the "person" from the "trait" implies that the trait is inherently bad or "less than", and thus dehumanizes people with disabilities.
    The term people-first language first appears in 1988 as recommended by advocacy groups in the United States.[1] The usage has been widely adopted by speech-language pathologists and researchers, with 'person who stutters' (PWS) replacing 'stutterer'.[2]





    Criticism

    Critics have objected that people-first language is awkward, repetitive and makes for tiresome writing and reading. C. Edwin Vaughan, a sociologist and longtime activist for the blind, argues that since "in common usage positive pronouns usually precede nouns", "the awkwardness of the preferred language focuses on the disability in a new and potentially negative way". Thus, according to Vaughan, it only serves to "focus on disability in an ungainly new way" and "calls attention to a person as having some type of 'marred identity'" in terms of Erving Goffman's theory of identity.[7]
    The National Federation of the Blind adopted a resolution in 1993 condemning people-first language. The resolution dismissed the notion that "the word 'person' must invariably precede the word 'blind' to emphasize the fact that a blind person is first and foremost a person" as "totally unacceptable and pernicious" and resulting in the exact opposite of its purported aim, since "it is overly defensive, implies shame instead of true equality, and portrays the blind as touchy and belligerent".[8]
    In Deaf culture, person-first language has long been rejected. Instead, Deaf culture uses Deaf-first language since being culturally deaf is a source of positive identity and pride.[9] Correct terms to use for this group would be "Deaf person" or "hard of hearing person".[10] The phrase "hearing impaired" is not acceptable to most Deaf or hard of hearing people because it emphasizes what they cannot do.[11]
    Autism activist Jim Sinclair rejects person-first language, on the grounds that saying "person with autism" suggests that autism can be separated from the person.[12] Other advocacy groups and organizations such as Autism Speaks,[13] The Arc[14] and Disability Is Natural support using people-first language.
    Advocates of the social model of disability also reject person-first language, defining themselves as "disabled people" and "disability" as the discrimination they face as a result of their impairments.[15]

    I do consider Deaf culture to be quite the anomaly...very empowered and self-centric.
  • wavypenwavypen Registered Users Posts: 253 Curl Neophyte
    Spider posted most of what I was going to say—this is issue is divisive in the disability rights community, however I have noticed that disability rights groups composed of actual disabled people tend to prefer normal English while disability rights groups composed of people who work with the disabled, parents and other family members of disabled people tend to prefer person first language. I think the awkwardness of using person first constructions much of the time actually draws more attention to the disability and less to the person. I think it would be better to try to get English to adopt a noun adjective word order like French or Spanish if one wants the person first—like person disabled.
  • claudine191claudine191 Registered Users Posts: 8,221 Curl Connoisseur
    Hmmmmm.

    Philosophically, I rather like it, but I would never presume to put my preferences before those who actually have the condition, whatever it is.
  • curlypearlcurlypearl Registered Users Posts: 12,231 Curl Connoisseur
    I don't like it and agree with the criticism that it is cumbersome and awkward.
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  • wavypenwavypen Registered Users Posts: 253 Curl Neophyte
    There's a good argument that people first language actually further stigmatizes us (disabled people) by bringing more attention to the disability via the awkward sentence structures often required; and in that way also makes a judgment that being disabled is something that is shameful, even dehumanizing about disability: a frequently occurring slogan when advocating is "see the person not the disability", if abled people really need to reminded that we're human I think we have bigger problems than can be solved by grammar.

    But if I meet someone who prefers that person first be used for them I will, just as I respect people's preferences for how to address them or describe them generally.

    Also try this structure with other major descriptors or aspects of a person, might give some amusement anyway.

    Personally, I'd much rather non-disabled people put more time and effort into interacting with us as they do with everyone else and generally not discriminating, and in terms of language avoiding things that are clearly offensive like pejorative ableist words (like spaz, gimp, *tard, psycho etc) and think about phrases like x sufferer, wheelchair bound, crippled by x and so on.
  • juanabjuanab Registered Users Posts: 4,037 Curl Neophyte
    Wavypen, I could not have said it better.

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  • RedCatWavesRedCatWaves Registered Users Posts: 31,259 Curl Connoisseur
    My son and my brother, who both have T1 diabetes, prefer to be called "a person with diabetes" rather than "a diabetic". They don't like being reduced to just their disease...so I don't do it. I say "he has diabetes", rather than "he's a diabetic". It's not more awkward to time consuming.
  • wavypenwavypen Registered Users Posts: 253 Curl Neophyte
    Of course "a diabetic" sounds bizarre, the word diabetic is an adjective not a noun, so the difference in this case for person first/identity first language is between "person with diabetes" and "diabetic person" and with your examples the choices are he has diabetes vs he is diabetic. While there isn't a difference in number of syllables or awkward phrasing between has diabetes and is diabetic, there's a much more significant difference between diabetic person and and person with diabetes (or person who has diabetes especially) and the latter sounds awkward and because of that actually draws more attention to that person having diabetes than the phrase diabetic person does.
  • RedCatWavesRedCatWaves Registered Users Posts: 31,259 Curl Connoisseur
    wavypen wrote: »
    Of course "a diabetic" sounds bizarre, the word diabetic is an adjective not a noun, so the difference in this case for person first/identity first language is between "person with diabetes" and "diabetic person" and with your examples the choices are he has diabetes vs he is diabetic. While there isn't a difference in number of syllables or awkward phrasing between has diabetes and is diabetic, there's a much more significant difference between diabetic person and and person with diabetes (or person who has diabetes especially) and the latter sounds awkward and because of that actually draws more attention to that person having diabetes than the phrase diabetic person does.


    Wrong. Diabetic is also a noun.
  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Registered Users Posts: 17,898 Curl Virtuoso
    wavypen wrote: »
    Of course "a diabetic" sounds bizarre, the word diabetic is an adjective not a noun, so the difference in this case for person first/identity first language is between "person with diabetes" and "diabetic person" and with your examples the choices are he has diabetes vs he is diabetic. While there isn't a difference in number of syllables or awkward phrasing between has diabetes and is diabetic, there's a much more significant difference between diabetic person and and person with diabetes (or person who has diabetes especially) and the latter sounds awkward and because of that actually draws more attention to that person having diabetes than the phrase diabetic person does.

    What if the word "person" isn't used at all? What if the terms:

    a diabetic
    an amputee
    the blind
    the mentally ill
    the disabled
    asthmatics

    are used only? Do you find that terminology to be stigmatizing or dehumanizing? Personally, I find that ^^^ horrible.
  • wavypenwavypen Registered Users Posts: 253 Curl Neophyte
    RedCatWaves, no it's an adjective, after your post I even double-checked, looking it up in the dictionary. Some people may use it as a noun, but if so the usage is not standard enough to be in dictionaries, which is why it sounds strange. I'm not defending the usage "a diabetic", I'm defending the usage "a diabetic person", if I know someone prefers to be called "a person who has diabetes" I will call the person that, but that doesnt mean that a non disabled person has the right to tell me, a disabled person, that my preferred usage for myself is not ok and that I should actually prefer a different word order, one I don't like.
    wavypen wrote: »
    Of course "a diabetic" sounds bizarre, the word diabetic is an adjective not a noun, so the difference in this case for person first/identity first language is between "person with diabetes" and "diabetic person" and with your examples the choices are he has diabetes vs he is diabetic. While there isn't a difference in number of syllables or awkward phrasing between has diabetes and is diabetic, there's a much more significant difference between diabetic person and and person with diabetes (or person who has diabetes especially) and the latter sounds awkward and because of that actually draws more attention to that person having diabetes than the phrase diabetic person does.

    What if the word "person" isn't used at all? What if the terms:

    a diabetic
    an amputee
    the blind
    the mentally ill
    the disabled
    asthmatics

    are used only? Do you find that terminology to be stigmatizing or dehumanizing? Personally, I find that ^^^ horrible.

    I don't like those either, but some communities do like those usages, for example a significant portion of the blind community finds the term "the blind" acceptable and definitely preferable to "people who are blind", the most preferred seems to be "blind people". People who are not blind but work with people who are seem to prefer the person first usage: "people who are blind", and it seems no one is fond of "people with blindness". In this case though it's specifically a usage with the definite article that is considered acceptable, using the indefinite article "a blind" seems to be offensive to everyone.
  • Therese1Therese1 Registered Users Posts: 2,563 Curl Virtuoso
    I have a disability, and I don't mind "disabled people," but I don't like "the disabled." The latter sounds dehumanizing, because you are reduced only to your condition.

    As a side note, Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary does list "diabetic" as a noun. It gives 1840 as the earliest recorded use.
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  • RedCatWavesRedCatWaves Registered Users Posts: 31,259 Curl Connoisseur
    Therese1 wrote: »
    As a side note, Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary does list "diabetic" as a noun. It gives 1840 as the earliest recorded use.


    Yep. I never post stuff I don't know to be true. Diabetic is a noun, not just an adjective.

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