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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2018 9:42:50 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/24/2018
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I am not suggesting starting a #me2M movement.

In the TFD 'Match Up’ game today there are 2 synonyms mentioned: midget and lilliputian[sic].

These are two normal words.

Because of their association, many ‘little people' find that being addressed by these ‘labels' rather offensive and prefer to be known by their own names.

just sayin'
Wilmar (USA)
Posted: Friday, August 24, 2018 2:40:07 PM

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So you want to turn a simple word understanding game into a social issue? There are already groups for folks who want to turn everything into an issue -- go join them.
Posted: Friday, August 24, 2018 3:38:54 PM

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Yes, the matchup is not exactly showing societal norms. I don't think anybody as used 'Liliputian' as a term since ... Swift.

And yes, I think 'midget' is found offensive by some people. But saying the preferred word is their own name? That is not workable, is it! Find an acceptable word to describe people whatever attribute you are describing. And if you are referring to a person whose name you know, use it. But these are not alternatives - they are for entirely different situations.

The police are looking for a suspect after a mugging. He is described as 'Gerald'.
Not helpful! Whistle

But I am not arguing with the overall sentiment of the need for respect for all.

I don't think submarines mind being called midget. Or Lilliputian, for that matter, probably.
Posted: Friday, August 24, 2018 5:24:16 PM

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Joined: 6/2/2009
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Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
It is also important to remember, though TFD does not do a particularly good job with the definitions of these terms, that both "midget" and "Lilliputian" may be used as adjectives, meaning "very small". Thus, we have "midget racers". These were never cars to be driven by a little person, but rather very small cars. As such an adjective, these are unexceptional words.

Individuals should be referred to by their own names. Terminology for a recognized group is more problematic. Currently, midget is not generally considered appropriate. Little people, people of short stature (according to Wikipedia), and dwarf are acceptable. Dwarf/dwarfism is medical terminology (though it has a longer history); there is a genetic reason for most dwarfism.

The issue of the correctness (political correctness, if you insist) of descriptive terminology is difficult. It arises from the pejorative sense carried along with a given descriptor. To escape this, the affected group adopts new, neutral terminology. Thus in my lifetime, we have gone from the unacceptable-to-write n-word (though sadly still in use, it is far less common and is completely unacceptable now), to negro, to Negro, to Black, to African American; from crippled, to handicapped, to disabled, to differently-abled. The base problem being, of course, that prejudice is not so easy to turn aside and over a (remarkably small often) period of time, most or all the pejorative prejudices associated with the older term(s) become associated with the newer term(s).

Out of respect for the common humanity of people who are set apart from another portion of humanity by some physical, or in some cases social or ethnic attribution, it is important to refer to people by the terminology members of the group prefer. It is a matter of self-determination. I'll make this personal: if you are referring to me as a girl, you had damn well better be referring to all the males in the vicinity as boys, otherwise, I am (thank you very much) a woman.

These things do make a difference. Stereotypical images engendered by pejorative terminology are limiting. Many will say they are degrading. This is true. At the root, such use of terms degrades the humanity, the full personhood of members of such a group by limiting the ways in which they are considered people. Using "girl" to refer to an adult woman raises a hindbrain image of one not mature and therefore incapable of truly adult functioning or personhood. Unfortunately, recent research evidence indicates we make decisions with the hindbrain, not the forebrain. The decision is already made by the time we start thinking logically with the forebrain about what the decision should be. The forebrain is important to the justification of an extant decision, not for the decision itself.

A change in terminology is not a panacea. It does make a difference; if it weren't making a difference, it wouldn't be so wrenching and one would not see such opposition to change. For those on the outside of a group, who are willing to make the effort to change, perhaps it will even assist in changing that hindbrain. I hope so, though at present evidence for such change is lacking.
Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2018 9:45:56 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/24/2018
Posts: 352
Neurons: 1,922


So you want to turn a simple word understanding game into a social issue? There are already groups for folks who want to turn everything into an issue -- go join them.

Thanks for the tip. But I have already joined such a social group. It’s called TFD aka ‘The Free Dictionary’.

ps. I suspect that you missed the very, very first sentence in the OP.

just sayin'
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