“Macaca” and “herstory” top the list of most egregious examples of politically correct (or incorrect, if you prefer) language found in 2006 by the Global Language Monitor (GLM), a worldwide assemblage of academics, professional wordsmiths and bibliophiles monitoring the latest trends in the evolution — and demise — of language and word usage.
“In 2006, the political correctness movement continued to gain momentum to the effect that many were unaware of the extent that it had inserted itself into ordinary English-language conversations,” observes GLM president Paul JJ Payack, who sends Inside the Beltway these top politically sensitive words and phrases for 2006:
1. Macaca: Even though it means “clown” in certain cultures, the word helped change the political balance of the U.S. Senate when uttered by outgoing Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen.
2. Global warming denier: These skeptics are now being treated the same as “Holocaust deniers,” dealt professional ostracism, belittlement, ridicule, even jail.
3. Herstory (rather than history): “Herstory” attempts to take the male element out of “history.”
4. Flip chart: Offensive to some Filipinos; use “writing block.”
5. 1a and 1b: A teacher split a grade into two equal classes. Parents objected because those with children in “1b” feared they may be perceived as academically inferior.
The GLM, meanwhile, continues its arduous task of counting the number of words in the English language. The “Million Word March” currently stands at 991,207.