Race

Is Your Master Bedroom Racist?

There’s nothing wrong with a little linguistic housekeeping, but reclassifying dozens of common words, expressions, and songs as slurs goes too far.

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Master bedroom is going the way of Negro and Oriental. The real estate industry is increasingly replacing the term with primary bedroom or owner's suite, to avoid using a term that can be taken as summoning the memory of masters owning slaves.

This will not be the only way that our national reckoning changes how we use language in America. Some calls will be easy. The obscure word niggardly serves little purpose when it sounds so uncomfortably like the n-word; stingy is fine as an alternate. Kaffir is a slur for a person of color in South Africa and thus we need not call the interesting fruit a kaffir lime. For Rhode Island to disavow its original name as the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations will confuse no one, since the name is all but unknown to most anyway.

But in many cases, there are two lessons to keep in mind: One is linguistic, about how metaphor works. The other is sociohistorical, about whether our present-day consciousness can plausibly encompass the entire progression of past stages that preceded it—despite William Faulkner's counsel, sometimes the past really is past.

On metaphor, master is a useful example. The basic concept of the master as a leader or person of authority has extended into a great many metaphorical usages. One of them was its use as a title on plantations worked by slaves.

That makes sensible the elimination of certain other uses of the word, which parallel and summon the slavery one. When I went to a Quaker school in the 1970s, such schools had just begun a call to stop having male teachers called "master" and female teachers called "teacher," in favor of having all instructors called simply "teacher" (i.e. "Teacher Bill" and "Teacher Lisa"). This meant that young subordinates had been calling white men in positions of authority "master," after all—including, by the 1970s, more than a few black students. And today's call to stop referring to technology parts as "master" versus "slave" attachments follows in the same vein, as it directly channels what was so offensive about the slavery usage.

However, other extensions of the word master do not meaningfully resemble the plantation one, and only a kind of obsession could explain spraying for them now. Are we to consider it racist to refer simply to mastering a skill? To master tape as opposed to dupes? One could even question eliminating the bedroom term. No one thinks of the children's bedrooms and guest rooms as "subservient" or as existing in some unsavory relationship to the master bedroom. The plantation meaning of master was one tributary of a delta of extensions of the word; it should go, but we need not fill in the entire delta. You might not like bagpipes, but you wouldn't as a result hold your ears upon hearing other wind instruments like clarinets and flutes. To be human is to make distinctions.

Things are the same with the word black. Its application to a group of people was, again, one of countless extensions of an original word. What worries many is that not only the racial meaning but so many other meanings of black have negative associations. However, this was true long before Africans were yoked into slavery. Worldwide, the color is often associated with negative concepts, because of the connection with nighttime and thus obscurity, mystery and even misdeeds, while white is often associated with positive ones. Hence look black, black market, blacklist, black magic, black humor, and so on.

Some may suppose that even if the racial meaning developed later, these days the other uses of black carry a racially loaded meaning by association. There are three problems here.

One is plausibility: Upon what evidence can we say that the word blacklist has a racial association, when what comes most readily to most of our minds is the witch hunt against Communists after World War II?

Another is that many of the black terms are simply neutral: To be in the black is a good thing. Or, one current call suggests banning "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" because, well, you know. But no one knows why the sheep is black, and in the nursery rhyme no one considers it a problem.

Finally, with black there are simply so very many extensions—dozens by conservative count. To ban all uses of black beyond the fundamental reference to color would result in most people constantly slipping up, with endless opportunities to call people out for the tort—a nice recapitulation of today's problems with the likes of irregardless and between you and I except with an added tinge of supposed racism. The word and its metaphors are simply too big to fail, as it were.

There is also the question of whether to discontinue a word because of historical origins previously known to few. Here, the actual purpose beyond virtue signaling is unclear. An example is the tune "Turkey in the Straw," which is played by some ice cream trucks. It emerged almost 200 years ago, sung by white minstrels made up as black people, with different lyrics referring to dancing. One call has suggested that we always reflect on the tune's unsavory origins, and in today's climate there is a short step from that to it being piously discontinued in public usage.

However, at this point, almost no living person has seen a minstrel show. More to the point, while minstrel shows existed, pretty much all popular music OF THE ERA was played in them. How much music will we let go on the basis of being connected with a phenomenon so antique that it is directly recalled by essentially no one, and is largely known through a few photos and some animated cartoon sequences themselves now long censored for public consumption? A version of "Turkey in the Straw" has also been unearthed with the title "Nigger Love A Watermelon, Ha! Ha! Ha!"—but this was not only over 100 years ago itself, but was one of many parody lyrics on this tune, forgotten almost as soon as it was published. There is room for allowing, a century later, the tune to just be a catchy tune.

Stephen Foster's songs were minstrel staples as well. But to render them "problematic"—as the directive on "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" also suggests—would mean no more "Camptown Races" and "Oh, Susanna." It is one thing for us to know the context these things emerged in, and even to know that such songs often had racist alternate verses now forgotten. But to treat them in their current state as outright contraband for origins no longer even known to anyone but scholars and now vast eons behind us is more about gesture than anything else, and for unclear purpose.

Such songs, in their current state, foster no thoughts or assumptions about racial hierarchy. They are neither hurting nor mentally polluting children (or anyone else). The same goes for the Massachusetts Appeals Court's ban of the use of grandfather clause in its documents because the expression emerged as a strategy to deny black people the vote. If no one but a few historians knew this, no purpose is served by proscribing a now faceless expression. Language history, as a part of social history, is messy. Signals fade over time; material is eternally repurposed in the same way that the bones in our inner ear started out as jaw bones in reptiles and moved gradually inward. What a language was once like is always vastly different from what it is like now.

Certainly it should be promulgated, then, that "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe/Catch a tigger by the toe" originally included a distinctly unpleasant word for which tigger was a rhyming euphemism. However, should our racial reckoning reanimate claims that the rhyme be considered an insult to black people as in cases such as this and this, or placed on a list of things we should keep from our children, as has actually been proposed?

Looking at ourselves from a distance sheds some light. People of another culture might learn of the original word and consider simply changing it to be the solution. They might wonder why we would consider primly eliminating the verse as a kind of middle finger turned up to the way things were in a time now vastly past. The past can't see us. It's okay to look back as long as you don't stare.

The impulse will remain for (white) America to look inward and consider its participation in racism, which will include lexical matters. But engaging in some understandable housecleaning is different than reclassifying dozens of innocent-seeming words, expressions, and songs on the tips of our tongues as slurs, so that anyone who mentions black humor or grandfathering is taken aside or reported on Twitter, day care teachers get reprimanded for teaching their charges "Baa Baa Black Sheep," and parents of a certain demographic muse over whether it's "problematic" that they just saw their kids using "Eeny, meeny" to decide who gets to go first in a game.

NEXT: Media Alarmism Is Making It Difficult To Assess School Reopening

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  1. Yeah. I’m pretty sure “master” has always had meanings besides slave owner.

    1. I’m pretty sure “slave” has always had meanings besides “someone who is owned (by a white man)” too.

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      2. Slave derives from the medieval Latin word sclava and literally meant captive. It was used to describe captives captured in battle who were enslaved. The Germanic peoples, especially Swedish Vikings and their descendants, the Rus, used it to describe Slavic people. In fact the usage was so common that that is the literal origin of the word Slavic. Therefore eastern Europeans should be as much up in arms about the use of slave as any African American.

        1. Indeed.

          Ironic that the words “slave” and “caucasian” refer to pretty much the same people at origin

        2. I think you have the relationship backwards. The word “slave” goes back to Greek and was derived from the name of the Slavs, which is based on their own word for themselves.

          1. Not according to Oxford English dictionary. It was Latin roots.

            1. English would have picked up the word from Latin, hence the attribution in the OED, but it seems to have shown up in Greek and Latin at about the same time, and derives from Slavs’ name for themselves:

              The oldest mention of the Slavic ethnonym is the 6th century AD Procopius, writing in Byzantine Greek, using various forms such as Sklaboi (Σκλάβοι), Sklabēnoi (Σκλαβηνοί), Sklauenoi (Σκλαυηνοί), Sthlabenoi (Σθλαβηνοί), or Sklabinoi (Σκλαβῖνοι),[11] while his contemporary Jordanes refers to the Sclaveni in Latin.[12] The oldest documents written in Old Church Slavonic, dating from the 9th century, attest the autonym as Slověne (Словѣне). These forms point back to a Slavic autonym which can be reconstructed in Proto-Slavic as *Slověninъ, plural Slověne.

              The reconstructed autonym *Slověninъ is usually considered a derivation from slovo (“word”), originally denoting “people who speak (the same language)”, i. e. people who understand each other, in contrast to the Slavic word denoting German people, namely *němьcь, meaning “silent, mute people” (from Slavic *němъ “mute, mumbling”). The word slovo (“word”) and the related slava (“glory, fame”) and slukh (“hearing”) originate from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱlew- (“be spoken of, glory”), cognate with Ancient Greek κλέος (kléos “fame”), as in the name Pericles, Latin clueo (“be called”), and English loud.

              But arguably they should be up in arms that most of the western world still uses the name of their people as the generic word for slave.

              Fun fact: “barbarian” also essentially means “babblers,” i.e. “ones who can’t speak a recognizable language.”

              1. Bar-bar bar, bar!

            2. Look for the roots of the Latin word.

              1. And in any case, you had the relationship backwards. “Slave” comes from the word for Slavs. Not the other way around.

    2. Exactly. As in “Zeb has mastered evoking contempt from beer enthusiasts by always ordering an IPA.”

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    4. Master was used as a term for teachers. : a male teacher
      Master was used for underage young men of nobility. : a youth or boy too young to be called mister
      Master was used for a artisan that taught : a worker or artisan qualified to teach apprentices
      Master was used for the Captain of a ship : a person licensed to command a merchant ship
      Master was used for the owner of an animal : an owner especially of an animal
      Master was used as an employer : an employer especially of a servant
      Master was used for husbands : the male head of a household
      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/master

    5. What will we call masters degrees? Or will blacks even care since they always skip masters and go right for the PhD (player hater degree)?

  2. The way this will work is, black people can call their bedroom a master, but no one else can.

    1. Yup. And if a black real estate agent slips up and says “Master Bedroom” to the wrong white couple, he risks being defunded and chased out of town by a mob of angry white people.

    2. Well I think sadomasochist could us that word in the bedroom too!

  3. My hard drive is racist. Has a master and slave port, after all.

    /sarc

    1. Computers are problematic for a lot of reasons. Male and female ports? Did the male port get affirmative consent and a signed form to prove it? What if a port doesn’t self-identify the way it was manufactured? What about non-binary ports? Everything about the whole goddamn patriarchal computer system tries to force everything into a binary as if that were the very language it speaks!

      1. USB A ports are non-binary.

          1. C ports are bisexual but accept the idea of only two orientations.

            USB ports need to be rotated 540 degrees before they can be inserted.

            1. Actually USB ports are so named for their varying types of general disease – specifically, herpes and hepatitis.

              1. My bigger-ass auto correct discriminates against what I type and reclassifies my physical motions into more PC language.

            2. Ah. I was thinking of the wrong joke.

              Unary is non-binary, though.

      2. Everything about the whole goddamn patriarchal computer system tries to force everything into a binary as if that were the very language it speaks!

        *slow clap* Good one.

    2. I have to disagree about the writer’s opinion that it makes sense to rid master/slave terminology in tech. In fact, that is the most precise description of the relationships. A master is a device or a process that controls other devices or processes and a slave is a device or a process that is controlled by another device or a process.

      1. In fact, that is the most precise description of the relationships.

        Yes – which in turn is exactly why it is a rude way to describe a human relationship. By the same token, while it is rude to refer to a woman as an “object,” there really should be no problem with referring to an actual object as an “object.”

        Context, as they say, matters.

    3. As a software engineer I type the word “master” no less than 10 times a day.

      These rigid assumptions about what other people associate with words is tyranny in my mind. It’s also revealing that in other people’s minds so very many words can make them think a certain race is thought to be lesser. I never think that. They do.

      1. Bingo.

        When people tell me “black lives aren’t as valued as others” I suggest they stop valuing black lives less than others

        1. Yup. More generally, when someone says “Everyone does it” the conclusion is that the speaker has confessed personal guilt but the rest of the world is still presumed innocent.

      2. Yes. You cannot give these people a fucking inch.

        I’ve always thought the term “master bedroom” was stupid and pretentious as applied to shitty suburban McMansions and the like. As if the loser who sleeps in that bedroom is the master of anything. However, now that the language police are after it, I’m going to start defending it.

    4. You jest, but many software development teams are eschewing the terms “master” and “slave” in their code comments.

      1. And in doing so, they are making their already-piss-poor comments even more impenetrable and unhelpful. Getting developers to comment their code is hard enough without imposing political correctness on top of it.

      2. Just personal anecdote: I had to have a conversation about some API that used the terms “master” and “slave” with a co-worker who was black. I felt a little self-conscious at first, but he could not care less about the terminology.

      3. Of course, once the new euphemisms become fully accepted as synonyms for the earlier word, they become problematic themselves.

        Same reason every 10 years or so we need a new term for the kids that are currently called “special needs”.

        1. True. Thinking about that, maybe I’ll start referring to “cracker disc” and “nigger disc”.

    5. Same with my photo equipment flash lamps.

  4. I just wonder, what do people think the harm is of having these words in the language? Do they think that if the words are in use, people might decide slavery is a good idea again? Or is it just because some people are stupidly oversensitive and we must protect everyone’s feelings? In either case, this kind of shit is terrible for the language and for people psychologically. People need to be strong and learn to overcome things in the world that upset them. But they are being trained to be weak.

    1. I just wonder, what do people think the harm is of having these words in the language?

      Control the language…

      Do they think that if the words are in use, people might decide slavery is a good idea again?

      It’s an exercise of power. See ‘Control the language’.

      Like I said in a previous thread, words and ideas which used to be the provenance of obscure grievance studies in academia are now used by HR departments across the land.

      1. 100%. This guy gets it.

        This is why you cannot give these fuckers an inch. And NEVER apologize.

    2. Zeb,

      It largely arises from the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis (please direct your searches to the wiki page). The idea being that your language directly affects your world view. Thus, perfect language = no racism (or whatever we’re complaining about at the moment).

      You are probably seeing the problem right out of the gate that people are flawed and nothing that arises from flaws will be flawless. It is pretty much the Judeo-Christian worldview.

      It is also why George Orwell spent so much time discussing language in 1984. If you don’t have a word for freedom, then you have no concept of it.

      Anyway. Enjoy the rabbit hole of following up on that one. I’ve probably just cost you several hours of searches.

      😉

      1. They’ll still have a word for freedom. It will just mean being free to enjoy the approved options.

      2. It is also why George Orwell spent so much time discussing language in 1984. If you don’t have a word for freedom, then you have no concept of it.

        It should be noted that Orwell wasn’t sold on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis as evidenced by the copious amounts of active oppression *besides* Newspeak taking place in 1984. Orwell was a writer, so of course he focused on the language, but he also recognized that while controlling the language made subjugation easier, it wasn’t the end-all be all of conceptualization. We invent words for things we didn’t previously conceive of all the time and the task is so trivial that it’s usually done as an afterthought.

      3. re: “please direct your searches to the wiki page”

        Or better, here.

        Sapir-Whorf was an interesting hypothesis but, at least in it’s strong form, rather silly.

      4. Not having a word makes it harder to be in favor in something, but also harder to be against it.

        Imagine 20 years from now you’re working at modern, progressive school and you want to teach the kids to properly disapprove of a certain historical socio-agricultural system that existed in a certain region of the US. However, the school board has banned the words “master”, “slave”, “plantation”, and “the South”, along with attempts to circumvent the restriction using words that convey the same meaning. Hard to fight evil if you can’t name it.

        1. This problem already exists in attempts to ban curse words. Tell me, what words are we not allowed to say? Aha!

      5. freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.
        – Kris Kristofferson

    3. Its about, as it always is, virtue signalling and control of others.

    4. Agree’d completely in your questions. When one focuses too closely on the individual words used, instead of the meaning of the sentences including context, communication (which is the whole point of the words), breaks down. I taught my kids that replacement words, while necessary for those who are sensitive to the original word, the meaning is the exact same. “Fuck this” and “frack this” can and usually do, have the exact same meaning. The only reason to use “frack” is to avoid offending someone who cares so much about imagined propriety of the word, that they’re blinded to the meaning. “Master bedroom” and “primary bedroom” have the exact same meaning. The replacement is only necessary because of missing the whole point of the words, communicating ideas.

      1. My mom’s brother always used to say “oh dang it” and what a crock”. My Dad pointed out that he was still swearing, to us kids, as the intent was the same. He stated “it isn’t like God is up there going ‘well at least he didn’t say shit'”. It is the intent that matters. Swearing is just arbitrary taboos that change with time.

    5. The central element of all of their “education” is relationships of power. They want to change the current power dynamic, and become the masters. So, they re-define a LOT of the language in ways that does not make any sense to the current people in charge, and eventually everyone agrees. And they end up in charge, the trains run on time, the women are all strong, the men good looking, and all the children will be above average.

      Because they say so.

  5. What are we to make of Master Bates?

    1. Cum on now.

    2. Or the renowned fisherman, the master baiter?

    3. He’s no longer Master of his domain.

  6. Sorry John, but the first third of this article where you carry water for the cultural marxists out to destroy civilization doesn’t help your case. If you can see plantation owner references in electronics terms then it’s easy enough to see them in the other terms using master that you find just fine. You just have to open up to the power dynamic between master & slave to reinterpret all connotations of master as superior and therefore suspect and worthy of scorn and eradication. Same with black and everything else under assault by those you’re attempting to understand and explain. There is nothing valuable here, just a naked grab at power and cover for bloody revenge by distorting a history that though imperfect has been actively attempting to improve for the last 200 years.

    1. I don’t think he’s carrying water for the “cultural marxists out to destroy civilization” in the first third of the article. He’s simply explaining their position. If someone is too lazy to read the entire article, that’s on them.

      1. You state your opinion, then segue into an ad hominem. Neither is a rebuttal.

  7. Master bedroom is going the way of Negro and Oriental. The real estate industry is increasingly replacing the term with primary bedroom or owner’s suite, to avoid using a term that can be taken as summoning the memory of masters owning slaves.

    This will not be the only way that our national reckoning changes how we use language in America.

    So bloody creepy.

    1. Oriental and Occidental are just directional indications, with no judgment attached.

      1. Which may be why some East Asian people don’t like it applied to people. Korea and Japan and China are very different places and they don’t like each other too much.
        But probably mostly because it sounds like an old people word and old people are racist. That’s why “negro” is no good anymore.

        1. And I find it really weird that “negro” is sometimes seen as unacceptable. I mean, everyone has heard MLK and other black leaders of that generation refer to black people as “negros” hundreds of times. It was the dignified, serious word to use. How can it be a slur?

          1. Only Gringos have an issue with “negro”.

            -jcr

            1. My grandma uses the term “negress” for black women. She thinks it’s polite.

          2. The United Negro College Fund.
            National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

        2. People from the East.
          It isn’t hard.

          Yeah, lots of different people in the east. There’s also lots of different people in the west.

          1. Oriental used to refer to the original barbarians: Persians

            1. Persians were never considered barbarians, either by the Greeks or by the Romans, as they had a settled civilization that predated anything in the west. They were viewed more or less as equals from a geopolitical standpoint.

              1. the Assyrians and Babylonians thought the Persians were barbarians.

        3. Which may be why some East Asian people don’t like it applied to people. Korea and Japan and China are very different places and they don’t like each other too much.
          So how do they like being mushed up as “Asian”?

          1. That’s EAST Asian to you, bub.

        4. But occidental and occidentals has been used to refer to Europe, the Americas and their people for just as long, and nobody gets PO’d about that.
          Occidental College, Occidental Life Insurance and Occidental Petroleum aren’t being hounded to change their names.

        5. The preference is still silly. “East Asian” is no more specific than “Oriental,” since it also encompasses China, Korea, and Japan.

          “Asian” is an almost completely useless term to describe people, since it encompasses everyone from the Ural mountains to the Arabian peninsula to the Indian subcontinent to the Mongolian steppes to the Japanese islands to the Malaysian peninsula. There is no coherence whatsoever among these people historically, culturally, linguistically, or ethnically.

          And while we’re at it, we might as well get rid of the term “Eastern European” since the various people under that umbrella don’t really get along with each other either.

          Obviously, the reason for the preference is that “Oriental” is the term used by previous generations whose inveterate racism is beyond question.

          1. It’s all defined by the middle of the earth. When we rename “Mediterranean” for being backwards and anti-science, we can tackle westerners vs easterners.

            1. China is the middle kingdom

          2. Yes, it’s silly. That’s why I came up with the second explanation.

  8. Niggardly is from Middle English, and is derived from a old Norse word for stingy. Middle English time frame is considered to have run from the late 12th century CE to the mid 15th century CE.
    The racist word that sounds similar is derived from Spanish/Portetuese negro, which is itself derived from Latin niger, meaning black. The first use with double g doesn’t appear until the late 16th century, in English text and was likely a misspelling of the Latin root word. The first use of it as a racial term doesn’t appear until the late 18th century.
    So the two words have way different meanings, evolved at different times and from different root languages (Germanic vs Latin). But sure we should stop using niggardly because people are uninformed.

    1. Some people have tremendous difficulties with homonyms and near homonyms, but we also used to be able to tell these people to lighten up. Now we are taking them seriously because of what seems to be a certain amount of cultural despair and ennui.

      1. Some people have tremendous difficulties with homonyms and near homonyms

        Yes. They’re called homophobes.

        1. I wonder how long until science can no longer use science words with the prefix homo- and hetero-?

      2. Some people have trouble with the word “naggers”.

        1. Category is “People Who Annoy You”.

        2. The next door naggers.

    2. N – I – double guh – er.
      Kind of has a Disney sort of ring to it.

    3. Ever hear a person with a Southern accident say ‘negro’?

  9. There’s nothing wrong with a little linguistic housekeeping

    Actually there is everything wrong with linguistic housekeeping people are bullied into.

    1. A lot of the reason why English is such a diverse and useful language is that there has never been any “official” body overseeing the language and deciding what is and is not proper English. Lots of other European languages have things like that. Of course people are still going to speak as they will, but it has a big effect on written language. We don’t want English to be that way. No one is or should be in a position to do “linguistic housekeeping”.

    2. Actually there is everything wrong with linguistic housekeeping people are bullied into.

      I think it was a bad pun but declaring “This portion of the house shall no longer be used.” isn’t really housekeeping and “This portion of the house shall be called ‘X’ because the other portion of the house has been forbade from use.” is just nuts and has nothing to do with linguistics.

      1. Isn’t “housekeeping” a trigger word though? Isn’t housekeeping relegated to the financially disadvantaged and oppressed peoples historically?

        1. not to mention the gender role implications

          1. As in “bullied” being sexist?

            1. If you aren’t sufficiently cowed, you’re not being polite

              or

              Don’t have a cow, man

              1. Cowed? What about bulled? No, it’s gotta be negative words about females, doesn’t it?

                1. But bulled implies men are stronger, thus reinforcing the cishetero patriarchy.
                  Bigot!

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  11. stingy is fine as an alternate

    I think you mean plus good.

    1. Stingy is an anti-Semitic dog whistle.

      1. No, it’s a word used by the sassenach to disparage the Scots.

        -jcr

    2. Stingy comes from Stingurkas who were a tribe of Dravidian-speaking AfroSwiss living high in the Australian Alps. They were stereotyped as cheap with money, so stingy is a bigoted slur.

  12. Kaffir is a slur for a person of color in South Africa and thus we need not call the interesting fruit a kaffir lime.

    But is kafir still ok? Because kaffir share the same roots and source as kafir. But one is used to refer to Black Africans while the other is used by adherents of the religion of peace for all people who are not.

    This is important because kaffir limes are not African and are not called that as a reference to Black Africans. But maybe this is a ‘niggardly’ situation where we need to throw out words because ignorant people get really insulted? Like, we need to find a new word for crackers while we’re at it. And probably cheese too. White people love them some cheese so cheese is problematic.

    1. However, other extensions of the word master do not meaningfully resemble the plantation one, and only a kind of obsession could explain spraying for them now.

      Look, I’m with you in general principles, but you’re not exactly putting forth a coherent argument for why the line should be drawn where you think it should be drawn vs where the people who want to erase ‘master bedroom’ think it should be drawn.

      Your argument comes down to ‘those guys are being ridiculous but I’m totally reasonable, guys!’

      1. To be human is to make distinctions.

        The people who liked to fly the Confederate Flag were making distinctions – but I guess those were the wrong distinctions?

        1. Certainly it should be promulgated, then, that “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe/Catch a tigger by the toe”

          Tiger. Catch a tiger by the toe. I’m 49 and while I’ve certainly heard people sing the ‘catch a nigger . . . ‘ I have never heard anyone sing ‘catch a tigger . . .’

          Besides, you can’t catch tiggers. One, there’s only one. And he’s too bouncy.

          1. The impulse will remain for (white) America to look inward and consider its participation in racism,

            Sadly, no one else will look inwards and consider *their* participation in racism.

            1. . . . .owner’s suite

              I can’t believe you don’t see how problematic this is. SMDH *clap emojis*

          2. Their bottoms are made out of springs.

            Also, I only heard “tigger” growing up, but that was in Canada.

      2. Or is the strategy here that you’ll say things you think are reasonable, and if enough of you do that you’ll start to get the rest of the herd – those who are going along with the cultural marxism to fit in but don’t really believe it – to start moving closer to your positions if they think a sufficient number of people believe that that they feel safe publicly saying it?

        I understand the difficulty here – you really can’t use a rational argument to get someone to stop taking a position they didn’t take for rational reasons.

        1. Sadly, this happens in Corporate speak all the time. Witness the latest trend of verbing nouns and nouning verbs.
          Two examples:
          Tasked – She was tasked with profit analysis for the project.
          Spend – The spend on the project was $100,000.
          Annoying. And what was wrong with asked or cost as legitimate words we already used to convey those ideas? What do we gain with frivolous language?
          Funniest thing is when I see words like tasked in scripts where the characters are supposed to be from an earlier era I lived through and people didn’t talk like that. Like when you hear some mommy person from the 70’s use the now universal ‘I need you to …’
          Arghhh

          1. While it can be annoying when people unnecessarily verb nouns and vice versa, your examples are not great.

            “Spend”, for example, is not the same as “cost”. “Spend” on a project is a statement about hard-costs paid. That is, dollars out the door so far. Soft costs such as internal labor, overhead, etc are not included. Money owed is also not included in “spend” even if you’ve already received the goods or services. “Cost”, on the other hand, is a very broad term. Narrowing down exactly which components of cost you want to analyze can take a great deal of precision – or you can use the short-hand “spend” if that fits.

            “Tasked” as a verb dates back to 1520 (according to this), not that much later than it’s first recorded use in English as a noun.

            1. Yeah – English actually has always been pretty flexible about using nouns as verbs and vice-versa, even back when it was heavily inflected.

            2. Guess I learned something new today on Task.

              Spend, on the other hand, is not used the way you described in the meetings I have been in in my corporate role. Spend is a description of what I would deem cost, and what you describe as cost. Only the verbed spend is used instead. It is not a part of soft costs. Primarily, equipment and material. It is specific.
              And for spend, if it is dollars out the door so far, why not use the verb spent? That is what actually happened.

              1. Here’s my first experience with task as a verb.

                https://youtu.be/gsYT8YHL-R0

                Khan: He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I’ll chase him ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!

          2. Funniest thing is when I see words like tasked in scripts where the characters are supposed to be from an earlier era I lived through and people didn’t talk like that.

            You always have to do that in fiction to a certain extent, though. I had that same debate with my grandfather about Deadwood. He grew up in rural Minnesota in the 30’s, when the old people still remembered Deadwood-times, and said he just couldn’t get past the absurd amount of swearing on the show because no one at that time and place would have used those words.

            The writer, though, explained that those guys were considered very foul-mouthed at the time, but the things that were considered very foul-mouthed at the time would just sound silly to us now, such that we wouldn’t get why a gunfight broke out over someone being called a “dog-faced pony soldier.”

            By the same token, if you were being accurate about language, you wouldn’t be able to understand anything anyone said in any movie set before about 1500 no matter what language it was in.

            Even the Romans in Passion of the Christ weren’t speaking classical Latin – they were speaking modern Latin.

            1. Interesting information. I guess I am like your dad. haha. Only a different era.
              As for this:
              ‘Even the Romans in Passion of the Christ weren’t speaking classical Latin – they were speaking modern Latin.’
              I blame Mel Gibson. He was okay using Mayan in APOCALYPTO after all.

              1. In fairness, I imagine it was what he’d heard in Catholic churches growing up, and it’s just what sounded right to him.

                1. “Winnie widdie wiki” just doesn’t sound quite right…

                  1. And people talking about Kaiser all the time would not have helped Gibson’s image.

            2. Deadwood was great.
              Still need to watch the movie

              1. Movie is a rehash of the issues of season 3, but still not a satisfying conclusion. They could not kill of a historical character in an nonhistoric way.

                That is why they changed names in Boardwalk Empire.

            3. I had this out with some historic re-enactors. I asked why they were using the American English of centuries ago. (Or maybe it was Elizabethan England, I forgot.) If they wanted us to feel like we are there, they’d talk the same as us, even using anachronisms in some cases. If they were doing a play set in France, would they speak French? They say no, that’s different. But they have no good explanation for that distinction.

          3. “‘I need you to …”

            This one doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as people telling me that “you need to do (whatever they desire)”. No, asshole: your wish is not equivalent to my need.

            -jcr

            1. Mmmm. I’m gonna need you to come in on Sunday too. Mmkay? That would be great.

    2. I honestly feel a twinge of awkwardness when I get a sandwich then they ask what type of cheese I want and I reply “white American”.
      On a less awkward note, the race/ethnicity/identity of the person asking makes absolutely no difference to that

      1. At subway I unashamedly announce my preferred bread as white. Then I look around at everyone to see if anyone has a problem with that.

    3. Great article, Mike. I appreciate your work, I am now making over $15k every month just by doing an easy j0b 0nline!OPt I KNOW YOU NOW MAKIG MOR DOLLARS online from $28 k I,TS EASY ONLINE WORKING JOBS…
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    4. Yes, this puzzled me too. I always thought that the reason we suddenly weren’t supposed to refer to “kaffir limes” by that name was because because “kaffir” is a Muslim (whether Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu I don’t know) for “unbeliever.”

  13. I just wrote a long response regarding a particular item in the article, and it looks like Reason’s awful software ate my response, possibly due to the inclusion of a link to salient essay.

    For the more Reason comments-adept: will my post eventually go through, or should I retry without the link?

    1. If you’re seeing this post – its done been et by the squirrels.

      My advice – anything long you write, copy it to the clipboard before hitting submit.

    2. Agree with Agammamon – it’s gone.

      A single bad link might cause the squirrels to kill the post. Including more than one hyperlink or URL in your comment definitely will.

      There’s also an undocumented size limit to comments. Sometimes the commenting system will notify you in time to either edit it down or break it apart. Other times, squirrels. I think it depends on which scripts they have running (and which script blockers your browser uses) on any given day.

  14. Neither I nor any of my ancestors ever owned slaves. I call it the “master bedroom” so my servants know where I sleep.

    1. Technically, enunciating the word Master is even more offensive than just saying “massa bedroom.” Consequently, you simply cannot be a rapper if you use proper English.

  15. This article is an excellent one overall, but suffers for the concessions made in the first third. I’ll focus on the “master” and “slave” usage in tech as an example.

    The first thing to understand is that particular pairing isn’t the only piece of tech language being targeted by these changes. There are many, many other examples. Quite a few of these other examples fall clearly within the scope of what you describe as going to far: “blacklisting” and “whitelisting” are two current tech examples.

    The second point to understand is that this sort of “housekeeping” is *not actually separable” into sensible examples when the people who push for the changes are not willing to hear objections. As such, people who would oppose the top-down, enforced changes cannot merely defend one particular item: they must strategically object to the practice as a whole (even though those pushing for changes *can* attempt a single change at a time effectively and win by incrementalism).

    To elaborate (and again focused within tech), this sort of top-down non-technical decree of standards is extremely toxic to the work environment and undermines the technical work. The reasons for that might not be obvious to someone outside of the technology sector, but I assure you that it is the case. There have been recent, related problems involving the adoption of “codes of conduct.” I refer you to Eric S. Raymond’s essay (URL: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=8139) in which he discusses the telos and ethos of an organization (or movement).

    Finally, I’d object to the idea that even the particular case of master-slave hardware pairings is problematic. It is superficially closer to a “problem” topic, but what does that even mean? What meaningful connection does it have to slavery, human suffering, or bigotry? The association of these things is a phantom that is only alarming to an immature mind – and such a mind will be capable of finding associations to cause alarm *in any situation.* That is not a behavior that should be encouraged or condoned.

    1. This is the actual point. Nobody is really insulted by a master/slave connection in tech. Someone ewent hunting for “things I can label offensive”

      That is the difference. If there did happen to be some inherently offensive nomenclature… i.e. “man” for the math coprocessor because men are good at math, with a processor lacking a math coprocessor being “woman”… then you would have a case.

      But taking terms and placing them in an unrelated context and then declaring them offensive is not productive in any way.

      Should we proclaim FILO stacks verboten because someone says Filo is a derogatory term for someone from the Philippines?

      It never ends. Language becomes less precise. And in the end it is all just a power game designed to assert control and authority over you. Parent process and child processes is clear language. You dont have to be a programmer to get the gist of what is happening.. Calling process and called process is much less clear, as are the many other proposed alternatives.

    2. Re: “master/slave”: There seem to me to be some easy substitutions for this to describe the hardware relationship — but what about “male/female” in the context of plugs? Are we really to throw that one out and search for a substitute (there is no obvious one) because two female plugs’ human equivalents, or two male plugs’ ditto, can get it on? This isn’t about going out of one’s way to be offensive; this is about communicating quickly and accurately.

      Re: “niggardly,” I am not prepared to let that one go, precisely because idiots have slammed innocent people for using it in the ordinary, dictionary way.

      1. Are people going after male/female too? That abstract sense of gender has existed for a long time.

        1. Wait until they start learning about plumbing terminology.

          1. I am having a problem with my male to male couplings. Please help.

            1. That’s nothing compared to my case of rusty nipples.

              1. Lol. Is that really a plumbing thing? I almost want to go to the hardware store and ask for help now.

  16. No.

    What is the next stupid question?

  17. There’s nothing wrong with a little linguistic housekeeping, but reclassifying dozens of common words, expressions, and songs as slurs goes too far.

    The problem isn’t the housekeeping, it’s the slurs; or the idea that slurs shall never, under any circumstances, be uttered. Once you’ve ceded that slurs should never be uttered, its just a matter of taste as to what can be considered a slur and saying “It goes too far.” is just as subjective.

  18. People have been trying to eliminate Master Bedroom for a long time now so I just put bedroom No1 unless my client says otherwise. I don’t know if its ironic but even my lesbian clients call them Master bedrooms.

    1. Yeah, because it’s just a word. And master bedroom means what it means.

  19. Mr McWhorter, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by eactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . The process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for commiting thought-crime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. . . . Has it ever occcured to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”

    There is no ‘understandable housecleaning’. Our dictionaries used to be repositories of words long since discarded. A place where we could go to attain clarity about an old tome or scrap of text.

    The impetus today is not towards tidying our books–but towards eliminating words to cut off paths to thoughts that the left does not want us having. Orwell warned us of this. To see so many accepting it is terribly sad.

    Do not join them.

    Do not be a niggard in your disgust with this, let your hatred for the limitation of thought flow free and dangerous.

    1. Do not be a niggard in your disgust with this, let your hatred for the limitation of thought flow free and dangerous.

      Don’t be a nigger about it either.

      1. At least that’s better than being a nagger about it.

    2. “Do not be a niggard in your disgust with this”

      That’s another point, actually. “Niggardly” can be replaced by “stingy,” but “niggard,” the noun, has no single-word synonym that I know. Unless you count “Scrooge.” (Or “miser,” but there again the meaning is slightly different.)

  20. Crayon changed black to Licorice and white is snow. So white still has the pure connotation of snow while black has the terrible tasting licorice. Can always find a way to make things look bad

    1. terrible tasting licorice.

      Hey!

      There are two types of people in the world. Those that buy only black jellybeans and the rest of you morlocks.

      1. I concur with this comment. Black licorice for life!

      2. Because who doesn’t like taking green shits, after all…

        1. Hey, hot peppers burn my arse on the way out. Sometimes you have to take the bad to get the good.

    2. I’d have to defer to your expertise, but my understanding is that Crayola only makes one flavor of crayon.

      1. And that flavor is still better than black jellybeans

        1. haha. Agreed!

    3. What the fuck is wrong with people. Black and white were colors first. Change the names of the races if you don’t like it (or better, stop obsessing about race). Changing the name of the “flesh” color was a good call, though.

  21. Outstanding!

    This is a topic that needs addressing at all levels. This wordplay gamesmanship needs to be fought at the conceptual level by everyone who believes in freedom of thought.

    This battle has been underway for many decades, but the will to oppose it has almost completely dissipated.

    Here is how ludicrous it has become.

    https://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2020/08/student-athlete-term-editorial#

    The UNC student paper, in an unsigned editorial, declares that they will no longer use the term “student athlete”.

    Go ahead and formulate an argument in your head as to why you believe they might do such a thing. Then go read this masterpiece. Bonus points if you note the close association of the claim “we value accuracy” with an inaccurate use of the term “cognitive dissonance” , directly following the Obama-ism “to be clear”.

    There is a much deeper version of this article waiting to be written. An article that explores exactly why these constant deflections into terminology battles are so passionately pursued. This is the real concept that needs to be well understood by everyone who would like to have a say in how they live their life and what control others will have over it.

    1. Kudos to reason for choosing to publish this topic and kudos to John for taking a swing at it.

    2. Re: “student-athlete”: The one thing the paper gets right is that the literally moronic “coursework” fed to athletes whose sole reason for being at university is to play a particular sport are a disgrace.

      There are, in fact, student-athletes, students who pursue some particular sport. But they aren’t “money” sports, and particularly not at big state schools with large investments in such, like UNC. Myself, I’d far rather see a system of minor leagues for football and basketball, as there is for baseball, so that there can be no confusion as to what a player’s role is and whether s/he deserves pay for it.

      1. My friend taught a class at UConn that was mostly athletes, which you’d find hilarious if you knew him. Not a sports guy, PhD in English Lit, couple books published on topics like “the non human”.
        He left academia for data science.

    3. An article that explores exactly why these constant deflections into terminology battles are so passionately pursued.

      My personal opinion? This seems to be mostly an obsession of bourgeois people who feel guilty about their privilege and want something they can do that won’t result in them losing their privilege. Pretending it matters greatly what words people use accomplishes that.

      Add to that the pragmatic academic politics behind the rise of ‘grievance studies’ – concern over the lack of writing-and-critical-thinking skills in college grads in the ’80s led to the creation of the writing-and-critical-thinking requirement adopted by essentially all major universities.

      The actual lack was probably explained more by over-admitting people to college in order to compensate for budget shortfalls, and this trend continued its upward climb now requiring the more-and-more students being admitted to all have writing-and-critical-thinking classes.

      Now you need a small army of humanities-oriented graduate students to teach these classes, because it would be too expensive to have actual professors doing it. English departments were the first beneficiaries of this, but this was also right when the clamor for ethnic studies departments started happening, along with increasing pressure from students to not be required to take English classes specifically.

      Since the ’90s, then, there has been an explosion of new humanities fields created largely to meet this need for teachers of writing-and-critical-thinking, but for which people need to continually publish in order to get the jobs in grad departments teaching the grad students who are being hired to teach the undergrads.

      Thus, you have the scholar-mill churning out piece after piece about this or that bit of cultural oppression with a very low level of skepticism directed at any of it, most of it being largely resume-building.

      Along come the bourgies of the late ’10s in need of something loud and ineffective to do in the name of Social Justice and boom! Cancel Culture.

      1. I think social media was another important ingredient.

        1. Yes, definitely.

  22. I don’t know about any of that nonsense. But honey, do we really need this many throw pillows?

  23. You don’t know why I have a whip in my master bedroom. I could have lots of excuses. Stop making assumptions.

    1. thousands of years of French chicks are all “quel probleme?”

    2. Every member of my harem and two of my 3 concubines say my bedroom is, in no way, racist.

  24. We went through all this bullshit with the ‘men’ suffix.
    The funny part was all the insistence on replacing a three letter ending that connoted male (man) with a three letter ending that connoted male (son). Chairman = Chairperson
    I will speak as I wish; if others can claim the right to dictate speech, I claim an equal right.

    1. And yes; decimate means to reduce by 10%.

    2. Guess they forgot human?

  25. >>owner’s suite

    is entirely worse than master bedroom.

    1. Especially since its not even accurate.

      A ‘master bedroom’ is just a large bedroom with a private bath. You wouldn’t go to a hotel, pay for a suite, and then be satisfied that you got one multipurpose room and a bathroom – that’s a normal hotel room, not a suite.

      1. Nobody expect truth or accuracy in a real estate listing

        C’mon man!

      2. To me an ‘owner’s suite’ involves a bar and/or catering area and 2-3 rows of tiered seating to watch the slaves work the field game.

    2. Yes!

  26. http://twitter.com/realchrisrufo/status/1293603172842221570?s=19

    It’s time for the institution of the only plank of “libertarian fascism” I was ever able to come up with: prohibition on the government recognizing race

    1. Prohibition on the government recognizing race should absolutely be put in place. We’re all supposed to be equal before the law, but then you put laws in place that only apply to people with certain racial backgrounds? Enforcing inequality? Sure, that makes things better.

    2. On your page was a link to:
      https://twitter.com/michaelmalice/status/1293351604998086657

      And that shit’s hilarious!

    3. The first example of white privilege is not having to worry about whethe ryou get a job or promotion because of your race (i.e. affirmative action). So… get rid of affirmative action because it’s racist?

    4. I have a hard time believing that that is for real. But I could say that about a lot of things these days. I think just about every example they have of male privilege, except for simple facts about physical differences, is complete bullshit. If that’s for real, it is absolutely disgusting.

      1. I can believe it’s real while also believing that almost no one involved sincerely believes that there’s any point to it.

        HR departments feel they need to do this. They don’t know how to do this, and that’s what consultants are for.

        Everything from there downstream is marketing from the consultants. The name of the organization is pretty choice for shock value, and they leverage that in their literature to draw you in.

        I bet they’re doing very well right now, and the employers can say they spent a wad on anti-racism training. It’s win-win. Sort of.

  27. Slavery goes back to the Sumerians so to associate all these words with American slavery is idiotic.

    1. But profitable

  28. Master bedroom is little silly virtue signaling compared to the Biden/Harris plan of mandating the federal reserve to focus on race based economic equality/equal outcomes. Seriously, why isn’t Reason writing about this? Is race based communism local?

  29. My computer has a “slave” drive. Oh my. Will it demand emancipation?

  30. Curiously despite rampant sexist behavior throughout history the white liberals ceased calling for boycotts on rap music with misogynistic lyrics and videos. Because the slaves on their democrat plantation need to whistle while they work.

    Also notice how sexist and racist they are referring to Harris as alternatively Asian, black, female. Never just a person. Always back to the skin color parental lineage and genitalia. Ooops I meant gender.

    1. “Also notice how sexist and racist they are referring to Harris as alternatively Asian, black, female. Never just a person. Always back to the skin color parental lineage and genitalia. Ooops I meant gender.”
      I agree. The message is always about equality yet all we hear is the focus on our differences and what makes each of us so different. The result is now exchanges like this one:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moWe3rk7LzQ
      And the addition of identifying one’s pronouns up front as a part of introduction.
      As with anything we try to ‘fix’, the result, over time, can morph to absurdity.

      1. Never just a person.

        I refer to her as goddamned power-grubbing whore of a narcissist.

        -jcr

  31. Professor McWhorter suggests that “owner’s suite” might be a suitable replacement for Master Bedroom, but isn’t “owner” equally problematic, as evidenced by certain sports franchise owners considering changing their description to governor? Wouldn’t “owner’s suite” be especially problematic if the house had a “butler’s pantry”?

    1. Governor? You mean like George Wallace?

  32. Progressive newspeak can be fun. If accused of using a now forboten word, sing, “Soft kitty, Warm kitty, Little ball of fur; Happy kitty, Sleepy kitty, Purr Purr Purr.”

  33. How come White Woke Womyn in College get to decide on all the language changes? Who put them in charge of deciding what offends People of Color?

    Are they unable to image that minority individuals might actually have agency?

    White Woke’s Burden

  34. I’ll bet Tiger Woods is feeling a bit sheepish about those 5 Primary Tournament victories right about now.

  35. I am more concerned that I continue to see professional writers using I.E. and E.G. incorrectly. An easy rule of thumb – E.G. = “example given”; I.E = “in effect”. Thus, listing examples should receive an “E.G.” reference.

    Additionally, Why no mention the “master and appetence” relationship? Seems rather apropos.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the read.

    1. I.e. means “id est” (“that is”).

  36. Racist would be segregated guest bedrooms. Weirdly the woke people seem to be ok with that idea.

  37. this is a wet dream but if the whites do not rise up and throw the blacks out of the US they will slowly be ground down hunted and exterminated

    1. No offense, but I don’t buy that you’re a real person.

    2. Is your username a dog whistle about slaughtering Jews?

  38. What about the christmas carol “here we come a-wassailing”, the second verse of which begins “God bless the Master of this house, likewise the Mistress too”? Carol singers throughout the English speaking world will now need to come up with something else.

    1. Free the houses from their bondage!

  39. So “Oriental Bittersweet” (Celastrus orbiculatus) which some fool brought to America years ago and now overgrows everything will be renamed what?

    Yes, “Oriental” assumes that the center of the language (English) is to the west of the place of origin of the thing we’re talking about. WTF is the problem with that? It’s from east of England and east of New England! That makes it “Oriental”.

    So African-American is not OK, because it defines the person as having genetic ancestry from Africa? Yes, that person does! That seems to be the whole point, whereas my forebears came from several thousand miles north of that. Who the F cares????? We’re Americans, born here, loving the republic and the land (except apparently Michelle Obama, who never felt pride in this country until her husband became President). We’re all in this together, like it or not! So grow up and learn to get along.

  40. The disciples and the Apostle Paul referred to Jesus of Nazareth as “Master” many times. Does that mean that the New Testament is racist?

  41. This should be obvious to the lowest intellect, but apparently it’s not — there is no way to say that some words are OK and others are not, because no one is ever going to agree. ‘reason’ seems to want the most snowflakely aggrieved to win every discussion. Who cares how often niggardly is used? It’s a perfectly fine word, and it doesn’t deserve to be defenestrated by low-grade morons. No semantic negotiation with libturhd terrorists or pajama boy morons!

  42. My apartment building has a number of bachelor suites. Is that sexist?

  43. Good riddance. “Master bedroom” is a marketing term. Used to be, we just had bedrooms. Sometimes you’d even reserve the best bedroom not for yourself but for honored guests—required if the Queen might stop by. Plus, it has lost some meaning since the trend is toward all bedrooms being en suite.

  44. “Master” will not be eliminated from our language, and one major reason is the “Master’s degrees” that Universities hand out. I expect that people who possess such degrees are over-represented among the “woke”. When they realize that banning “master” would jeopardize their degrees, they will drop the idea. As for “master bedroom”, how about simply “main bedroom” as a substitute? (It flows off the tongue better than “primary” bedroom, and even keeps the same initials as the original.) But “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” is not only black, he/she/it has a master, so I expect that rhyme will slowly disappear, and it won’t be the first to do so. (Many kids hearing it probably wonder what the heck a “dame” is anyway.)

    1. Professor McWhorter isn’t saying that all use of term Master should be eliminated – he is saying it is context dependent. When used in the context of someone that has obtained a significant degree of skill, Master is acceptable. It is not acceptable when used in the context of master/servant or master/slave. In the university context it is the former context and not the latter, so it can continue to be used. That is unless the ignorant SJWs have something to say about it. But JMcW is not one of those.

  45. I’ve always thought the term “master bedroom” was pretty gay.

  46. “The obscure word niggardly serves little purpose when it sounds so uncomfortably like the n-word”

    I hear the word used intermittently & use it myself without provoking outrage (probably because I hang out with adults), so not as obscure as you think. But the very notion of allowing your political enemies control of the language is suicidal.

  47. I’m not going to take any goddamned lectures from leftards on my word choice while they’re pulling out all the stops to make racial discrimination the law of the land. “Affirmative action”, my ass.

    -jcr

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  49. looks like Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
    and pretty funny I would say – engaging in some understandable housecleaning is different than reclassifying dozens of innocent-seeming words, expressions, and songs on the tips of our tongues as slurs

  50. I’m a big Magic the gathering player and the game recently fell victim to this. The artwork on several older cards made in the early 90s was removed from all official sources. Some of these removals were fine (one artwork for a card called Invoke Prejudice pretty clearly depicted Klansmen), but others were banned simply because they used the term “black” in a very slightly un-PC way. For those not familiar with the game, there are 5 fundamental “colors” of Magic, of which black is one (the others are white, blue, green, and red). It is a core mechanic of the game, and in no way refers to skin color. However, thanks to this linguistic puritanism, they had to be removed.

    1. WoTC and most so called “nerd” culture is extremely cucked. I would sever any attachment you have to it quickly.

      I pray the Japanese never give in to this SJW garbage. They seem to be doing a great job of being equal opportunity offenders.

  51. Slavery is not racist.

  52. I’ll solve this problem when I go buy a house. If it doesn’t have a Master Bedroom and Master Bathroom for me I won’t buy it. Let’s see what those agents call it.

  53. “Master bedroom” apparently has connotations of slavery, so let’s use “owner suite” instead? Doesn’t “owner” have the same stretched connotations? While we’re policing (with the connotation of picking up and disposing of trash) language, why not change “master’s degree” as well. Instead of my “Master of Divinity” degree, I could have a “Practitioner of Theology” degree. (Seriously, does any really master divinity anyway?)
    “Words mean things.” is a bit of a tautology, but the problem is that when you fail to allow for nuances and clouds of meaning you can’t understand the meaning at all. “Master” doesn’t always mean “owner of persons”.
    The purpose of language is to communicate meaning. If we seize on only one meaning of a word (and that the worst and most offensive meaning possible), we reject the necessary compact we have when we use language; that is to seek to understand each other.

  54. I’m not sure that is an accurate translation from Aramaic. It seems more an adaption to English. In Hebrew he would probably have been called Rabbi.

  55. I’ll also chime in w/ support for niggardly. It’s in somewhat common use in literary circles and by folks w/ decent vocabularies. This may largely leave out those white-knighting and/or looking to be outraged. Stingy may work has a stand-in; but so would monosyllabics or grunting & pointing. Or one could hit the other person to get the point across, if we are going to eschew language because of and for ignorance. As for master & slave in electronics & PC hardware, the name perfectly fits the relationship between components. There is neither association nor correlation to chattel slavery, so the causation conclusion is false.

  56. Interesting article. Very clear to me that ALL paper should be required to be black in color and all black ink banned and replaced with white ink. It would be interesting to see a list of all languages that NEVER had a synonym for ‘master’.

  57. Some calls will be easy. The obscure word niggardly serves little purpose when it sounds so uncomfortably like the n-word;

    Seriously? Giving into this crap in the slightest is idiocy.

  58. Can diversity of thought still be a thing?

  59. “There’s nothing wrong with a little linguistic housekeeping…”
    There’s everything wrong with with a little linguistic housekeeping.
    But what else can one expect from an academic who describes himself as “a cranky liberal Democrat” and an Obama supporter.
    Another great article courtesy Reason AKA Pravda West.

  60. How far must be gone to get away from such idea of criticizing government or its facilitators to terrorizing mundane crowds with “O’ Susannah?”

    If anyone ever sings the Star-Spangled Banner or La Marseillaise to all of Trafalgar Square, it may be along similar mode of reception as John McWhorter sings of ‘niggardly & co.’ (if they could master either, of course).

    Think before advertising your words to causes of popularity that you have no interest in, and take that oded gun out of my face, ye pigs!!

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