Oxford dictionary has a word on PC

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The Independent Online
Politically correct language has come under attack in the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. The Better English Guide section of the pocket dictionary says the over-zealous use of PC terms can cause confusion and embarrassment.

An Oxford University Press spokeswoman, Helen McManners said: "Obviously we believe people should avoid offensive language and over-generalisations. But take the euphemism 'learning difficulties'. It implies educational problems or mental handicaps but confusing these two meanings has the potential to cause more embarrassment than just saying what you mean."

The guide states that it seems reasonable to substitute "flight attendant" for "stewardess" and "chairperson" for "chairman" to avoid sexism. But it adds that to try to change words such as "manhandle" or "manhole" is ridiculous. The supplement continues: "Extreme proposals, such as substituting herstory for history, have no place outside specifically feminist writing."

The guide states that using the personal pronoun "their" to avoid always saying "he" may be common in informal speech but should be avoided in formal writing and speech.

To be politically and grammatically correct, the sentence must be completely rephrased or the cumbersome "his/her" used.

Edmund Weiner, deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, said: "We are not dictating what people should say but offering some sort of guidance on how words are used in everyday language."

The Pocket Oxford Dictionary has sold more than three million copies since it was first published in 1924.

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