Of course, it also challenged my opinion of myself as a non-racist, and as an "educated" user of language. (Here's another great thing about the internet - I can't hear you laughing.) Anyway, since reading the article, I've tried to rephrase some of those offensive sayings by using less idiomatic language. It required more brainpower than I expected, but I was OK with that - communication is a worthwhile endeavor and thinking has yet to be proven bad for your health.
|Old Dog, still learning.|
Rather than refer to people I don't know as "the peanut gallery," "hoi polloi," or "unwashed masses," I'm opting for the quite useful phrase "anyone else" or "everyone else." Or instead of "Grandfather clause," I see the better turn of phrase is "longstanding exception" or "accepted exception."
Good Communication Not Always "Creative"As I said, I used these phrases and others on The Root's list pretty frequently in the past. I considered them lively, interesting descriptions - and I assumed I understood their meanings without taking the next step to find out how they'd developed. Definitely my bad.
Also bad on my part: I mistakenly thought using these "creative phrases" was a means of demonstrating my love of language. But I know better. The #1 job of words is to communicate, so it's critical to choose your words to communicate what you intend - not a meaning that could offend.
So, the bottom line is - even an old dog can learn a new trick or two. (Lord help me, I didn't research the origin of that phrase...)
As I've told many a business owner about corporate communications, your words should work for you, not against you.