Language Evolution: Going Full Retard
Language evolves over time. It is never static. New words enter the lexicon, other words become obsolete. And some words remain but their meaning and connotations associated with them change. I don’t know how many of you were aware of the University of Colorado football recruiting scandals a few years back but the school’s now (thankfully) departed President Elizabeth Hoffman attempted to argue that the epithet “cunt”, which was used against a female place kicker, could actually be used as a term of endearment. (Sorry, Elizabeth, not since Chaucer’s day or, I guess, unless you’re John McCain.)
The ongoing discussion over how sexism and racism were used during the election have also brought out contextual differences in the use of words like “boy” and “periodic”. Other words are pretty charged in almost any context in which they are used but maybe that shouldn’t always be the case.
Diesel who blogs at Mattress Police is currently on a campaign to de-fuse the use of the word retarded as not being specifically intended to refer to a person as actually developmentally disabled or to insult those who are.
I think this is a reasonable endeavor. After all, at one time the words “idiot” and “moron” were technical terms used to classify the relative level of mental disabilities. These words have long since lost that association and are now just garden variety insults. Why not put “retarded” in that same class? God knows, with the level of stupid flying around these days we are badly in need of more legitimate insults that don’t generate a push back in the form of “ewww you used a mean word about developmentally disabled people!”
And as Diesel himself said in comments over at J-TWO-O (who tagged me on this piece!)
I read something recently where somebody compared the word retarded to the word lame. Calling something lame doesn’t mean you hate people who can’t walk, it just means that you think something is lame. People need to not be so retarded about this things.
I’ll let you guys make up your own minds on this but I think the argument has merit. And I won’t tag specific bloggers but if anyone wants to continue this meme, here are the rules:
1. You must write a post using the word retarded.I don’t care what it’s about—Joe Biden, teenage boys wearing girls’ pants, whatever.
2. The word retarded must be a link to this post.
3. You are encouraged to tag five other bloggers to do the same.