In 2005, some people wanted the word “brainstorming” replaced by “thought shower” so as not to offend people with brain disorders, and they also wanted ”deferred success” to replace “failure” so as not to embarrass those who don’t succeed.
Both phrases appear on a tongue-in-cheek list released Thursday of the year’s most politically correct words and phrases issued by Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that monitors language use.
The phrase that topped this year’s list was “misguided criminals,” one of several terms the British Broadcasting Corp. used so as not to use the word “terrorist” in describing those who carried out train and bus bombings in London that killed 52 people in July, according to Paul J. Payack, the head of Global Language Monitor.
He added, “The BBC attempts to strip away all emotion by using what it considers ‘neutral’ descriptions when describing those who carried out the bombings in the London Tubes.”
Second on the list was “Intrinsic Aptitude,” a phrase used by Harvard University President Lawrence Summers to explain why women might be underrepresented in engineering and science. The phrase met with “deferred success” and Summers had to fight to keep to his job.
“Thought shower” was third and a French word for riff-raff or scum, “la racaille,” was fourth thanks to being used by French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy to describe rioters of Muslim and North African descent in suburbs outside of Paris.
“Out of the mainstream,” which Payack said was used to describe the ideology of any political opponent, was fifth and in sixth place was “deferred success” the euphemism for “fail” that Britain’s Professional Association of Teachers considered using to bolster students’ “self-esteem.” The move also met with “deferred success.”
Seventh on the list was “womyn” for women in order to distance the word from men and eighth was using C.E. (Common Era) for A.D (Latin for “Year of Our Lord”) so as to be more neutral in dates.
Ninth on the top 10 list was words and phrases that either de-Christianize the Christian holidays or neuter their genders. For example “God Rest Ye Merry Persons” replaces “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Seasons Greetings” replaces “Merry Christmas.”
In 10th place was a move aimed at the heart of Australian culture when security staff were banned from using the word “mate” to address members of parliament. The MPs rebelled and said not being called “mate” was unpatriotic.