Harvard Captures Top Politically (in)Correct Word of the Year Award


Global Language Monitor’s Ninth Biennial List of Top Politically (in)Correct Words for 2016 and 2015

“House Masters” No More

Follows the lead of Los Angeles County Purchasing Department in 2004.

Harvard Captures Top Politically (in)Correct Word of the Year Award

Austin, Texas, 2016 — Harvard University captured the Top Politically (in)Correct Word of the Year Award in the Global Language Monitor’s Ninth Biennial List for 2016 and 2015.

Harvard won the award for supplanting the ancient and honored title of “House Master” for the rather amorphous yet politically neutral title of ‘faculty dean’.  Harvard undergraduates live in residence dorms called ‘houses’ modeled on the colleges of Oxbridge and other Medieval European universities.

Of course, when Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith announced the change, he responded to criticism that the change reflected a misunderstanding of the word “master” as possibly connected to America’s history of slavery,  Not so, he contended. “None of these [contentions] could be farther from the truth”.  Nota Bene:  Harvard’s motto is a single word ‘Veritas,’ Latin for Truth.

The unanswered question remains, what, if anything, the university plans to do with the more than 4,000 masters degrees awarded at Harvard’s 365th Commencement on May 26, 2016, let alone the tens of thousands awarded over the last three centuries.  Nota bene:  T%he highest decision-making body in the University is called the Board of Overseers.

Of course, the Harvard administration’s decision was not without precedent, it followed the actions of the Los Angeles County Purchasing department.  In computer terminology, “master/slave” refers to primary and secondary hard disk drives. But a Los Angeles County purchasing department told vendors in late 2003 that the term was offensive and violated the region’s cultural diversity. The county’s Department of Affirmative action undertook a hunt to replace it on software product packaging. After a public uproar, the county backed down. Payack said that while the incident took place in late 2003, the debate about it continued into 2004.

“We label these words and phrases Politically (in)Correct because of the fierce debate they often stir and incur,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor. “People spanning the political spectrum can find the phrases politically ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ depending on their particular views”.

Microaggression, in its Various Manifestations, was the Top Word for 2015  To see all the Top Words of 2015 Click here.

The University also placed a plaque naming four slaves who labored for two of its presidents some of its buildings in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The plaque ‘honored’ four people:  Titus, Venus, Juba, and Bilhah.  No surnames were ever recorded, while first names were adopted from those used in imperial Rome.  Bilhah was listed in the President’s Journal as a “Negro Wench”.

In a related case, a Harvard Law School committee proposed to retire the school’s shield (crest) that was adopted in 1936. The contention was that it was modeled on the family crest of the slave-holding Royall family.  The Royall family endowed Harvard’s first professorship of law.

The shield, itself consists of a stylized Veritas written on three books with three sheafs of wheat.  The connection to slavery is nowhere implied.

 Historical Note:  After slavery was outlawed in Massachusetts, the school continued to prosper from the mills throughout New England that used the cotton which the slaves produced as well as the oils obtained from the near extinction of the whales, as well as the land appropriated from the local Native American tribes.

Meanwhile, dozens of colleges and universities around the country experienced disruptions about historical associations to slavery and crimes against Native Americans.

The Top Politically (in)Correct Words of 2016 follow:

  1. Harvard University changed the titles of the leadership of it Residential System ‘Houses’ from  ‘Masters’ to ‘faculty deans’.
  2. Harvard Law School is dropping the design of its ‘shield’ because it was based upon that of the slave-holding Royall family.
  3. Non-binary —  A legal term for a gender identity between male and female.
  4. Cisgender is a newly popular term for one whose gender identity matches their sex.
  5. Gettysburg College shows a video to incoming first-year students “who identify as male” (freshman) on “toxic masculinity”.
  6. According to 35 Dumb Things, Well-Intended People Say:   complimenting someone as being well-spoken.can be taken as a micro-aggression.
  7. A sign at Pomona College: advised students to  “acknowledge your privilege” and “apologize if you’ve used words like “sassy”.  Additionally, the sign claims that all white people are racist. “Understand that you are white, so it is inevitable that you have unconsciously learned racism,” states the poster. “Your unearned advantage must be acknowledged and your racism unlearned.”
  8. Indigenous People’s Day—which serves as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day in order to celebrate Native American culture and history—has steadily increased in popularity since its founding in the 1990s, with major cities, such as Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, and the state of Alaska.  Brown Unversity faculty members endorsed a student suggestion to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The idea took a quarter of a century to arrive at the Ivy League university.
  9. The Patriarchy as a governing societal structure is to be questioned on all levels.
  10. Amherst College is dropping the “Lord Jeff (rey Amherst)” nickname because of Lord Jeffrey’s ties to eradication efforts kill Native Americans by distributing smallpox-contaminated blankets to them. There has been no word of changing the name of the college, itself.

    These Politically (in)Correct words are automatically nominated for Global Language Monitor’s 17th Annual Word of the Year #WOTY announcement for Global English at year’s end.

The words are culled from throughout the English-speaking world, which now numbers more than 1.83 billion speakers (January 2013 estimate) GLM employs its NarrativeTracker technologies for global Internet and social media analysis. NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time.   NarrativeTracker analyzes the Internet, blogosphere, the top 300,000 print, and electronic global media, as well as new social media sources as they emerge.

About the Global Language Monitor

In 2003, The Global Language Monitor (GLM) was founded in Silicon Valley by Paul J.J. Payack on the understanding that new technologies and techniques were necessary for truly understanding the world of Big Data, as it is now known.  Previous to this Payack was the founding president at yourDictionary.com, and a senior executive for a number of leading high-tech Fortune 500 companies.

Today, from its home in Austin, Texas GLM provides a number of innovative products and services that utilize its ‘algorithmic services’ to help worldwide customers protect, defend and nurture their branded products and entities. Products include ‘brand audits’ to assess the current status, establish baselines, and competitive benchmarks for current intellectual assets and brands, and to defend products against ambush marketing.

These services are currently provided to the Fortune 500, the Higher Education market, high technology firms, the worldwide print and electronic media, and the global fashion industry, among others.

For More Information call 1.737.215.7750 or email pjjp@post.harvard.edu

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Top Politically Incorrect Words of 2009

Swine Flu, Flush Toilet, Green Revolution, Minority, and Saint named top politically (in)Correct  words and phrases of 2009

The Sixth Annual Global Survey

Austin, Texas October 2, 2009 – Swine Flu, Flush Toilet, Green Revolution, Minority, and Saint have been named the top politically (in)Correct  words and phrases of the past year according to The Global Language Monitor in its sixth annual survey of the English Language. Rounding out the top ten were the term Politically Correct, Oriental, Founding Fathers, Black Sheep, and Senior Citizen.

“Once again, we are seeing that the attempt to remove all bias from language is itself creating biases of their own,” said Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of The Global Language Monitor. “At this point it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in any form of public dialogue without offending someone’s sensitivities, whether right, left or center.” .

The Top Politically Correct Words and Phrases for 2009 include:

1. Swine Flu – Though hundreds of millions know of the current pandemic as Swine Flu, various governments and agencies for political motives ranging from protecting pork producers to religious sensitivity have chosen to address the virus by its formal name, influenza A(H1N1).

2. Flush Toilet – Flush toilets, toilet paper and toilet use in general are now coming under the watchful eyes of the green movement.

3. Green Revolution – In the 1960s the scientific consensus was the world was on the brink of a ‘Malthusian’ collapse. The Green Revolution changed all that, but now there are those who believe that the world has paid a “stiff price in environmental degradation”.

4. Minority – Talking about minorities is considered insensitive to minorities since this can make them feel, well, like minorities.

5. Saint – In addition to the word ‘saint,’ Oxford University Press has removed words such as ‘bishop,’ ‘chapel,’ and ‘Pentecost’ from the Junior Dictionary.

6. Politically Correct – The term politically correct has, itself, is now politically correct, Be careful how you use it.

7. Oriental – In the US considered offensive to Asians because the term is based on the geographic relationship of Asia from a Western perspective. In Europe (and in most Asian nations), however, Oriental is acceptable.

8. Founding Fathers – Though all the Signers of the American Declaration of Independence were men, this is considered sexists in some quarters. Founders, please.

9. Black Sheep – Though originally referring to the rare birth of a lamb with black fur, now considered ethnically insensitive; the same is true for Black Day, Conversely, terms like White Collar and Whiter than White all can be used to encourage a hierarchical value of skin tone.

10. Senior Citizen – In the name of ‘inclusiveness,’ the UK’s Loughborough University’s suggests replacing senior citizen with ‘older person’.

The Top Politically Incorrect Terms and Phrases for previous years include:

  • 2008: “He Can’t Win” – Hillary Clinton’s coded reference to Barack Obama’s ethnic background as an insurmountable impediment to him winning the US Presidency
  • 2007: Nappy-headed Ho — Radio personality Don Imus’ reference to the women on the Rutgers University championship basketball team.
  • 2006: Global Warming Denier – Scientists not denying climate change, but the role of humans in the millennia-old process.
  • 2005: Misguided Criminals – A BBC commentator attempts to strip away all emotion from the word ‘terrorist’ by using ‘neutral’ descriptions for those who carried out the 7/7 tube bombings.
  • 2004: Master/Slave computer jargon – LA County re-labels computer documentation to remove this alleged slur that has been used for decades describing computer hierarchies.

The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.