Avoid Language Bias
- Last Updated: Thursday, 08 November 2018 13:47
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Avoid language that reinforces stereotypes or excludes certain groups of people.
Biased language pertains to words and phrases that can debase individuals because of their gender and sexual orientations, race, ethnicity and religious affiliations. As an IELTS test taker, you should avoid such language by all means. You should not use a word that might hurt someone's belief or degrade his race.
Sexism is the most difficult bias to avoid, in part because of the convention of using man or men and he or his to refer to people of either sex. Other, more disrespectful conventions include giving descriptions of women in terms of age and appearance while describing men in terms of accomplishment.
Avoid: mankind, a man, a man in the street.
Use: human beings, humans, humankind, humanity, people, society, men and women, an average person, an ordinary person.
Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin:
Some words and phrases that refer to racial and ethnic groups are clearly offensive. Other words (e.g., Oriental, coloured) are outdated or inaccurate. Besides, Hispanic is generally accepted as a broad term for Spanish-speaking people of the Western Hemisphere, but more specific terms (Latino, Mexican American) are also acceptable and in some cases preferred.
Avoid: Negro, coloured, Afro-American.
Use: Black, African-American (generally preferred to Afro-American).
The concept of ageing is changing as people are living longer and more active lives. Be aware of word choices that reinforce stereotypes (decrepit, senile) and avoid mentioning age unless it is relevant.
Avoid: elderly, aged, old, geriatric, the elderly, the aged.
Use: older person, senior citizen(s), older people, seniors.
The term homosexual to describe a man or woman is increasingly replaced by the terms gay for men and lesbian for women. Homosexual as a noun is sometimes used only in reference to a male. Among homosexuals, certain terms (such as queer and dyke) that are usually considered offensive have been gaining currency in recent years. However, it is still prudent to avoid these terms in standard contexts.
Health Condition or Disabilities:
Health Condition or disabilities does not define a person. So avoid using words like 'Crazy, mad, lunatic, psycho, disabled, and cripple'. Sometimes, 'mentally ill' is acceptable. Some suggest avoiding discriminatory words like 'physically challenged' and 'differently abled'.