Recently came across this, a 2009 guide for media and advertising folks on how to avoid perpetuating ageism in the media, which is in itself a nuanced conversation. But it’s worth having a look at and thinking over for those who like to consume their media with wider, kinder, eyes. Here’s Senior Planet’s summary and cheatsheet on the document:
“Media Takes: On Aging,” a 53-page style guide for journalism, entertainment and advertising, lays out the many subtle ways in which older people are ignored, stereotyped and demeaned on a daily basis and recommends language that is respectful and inclusive.
You might not agree with every one of its recommendations, but as the guide’s introduction states: “Media do oftentimes perpetuate ageism, even if inadvertently. Still, they have the best forums and opportunities to offer redress and to ensure that they are providing accurate depictions of older Americans.” In other words, you can use online commenting features as a way to demand fair representation; when you see the invitation to comment, do so! Most important, the guide is worth reading because it can help us to more clearly parse the media we’re consuming and see the less obvious messages that they carry.
- Fewer than two percent of prime-time television characters are age 65 and older, although this group comprises 12.7 percent of the population.
- Research shows that people who watch large amounts of television believe that older people are in poor shape financially and physically, have no sex lives, and are closed-minded and inefficient.
- Approximately 70 percent of older men and more than 80 percent of older women seen on television are treated with little if any courtesy, and often with reason – because they’re perceived as “bad.”
- Twice as many older people portrayed on TV are men, while in reality older women outnumber older men; and television portrays women as “seniors” at a younger age than men, who are more often portrayed as productive professionals.
- When older guests are booked for late night shows, they are often asked to make silly cameo appearances, rather than sit down and talk.
- In its representation of older people, much of the media focuses on those who are infirm, ignoring the 80 percent of us who are healthy enough to engage in normal activities.
- Conversely, now that there’s a growing population of active people 60 and up to market to, we’re seeing a surge in images of “Woofies” – a term coined to describe the Well Off Older Folks whom advertisers are trying to reach. This surge underrepresents less well off older people and affects how as a society we think about programs like social security.
The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.
Associated Press, in a post about its changes to “illegal immigration” and labels used to describe mental health issues in the AP Stylebook. ‘Illegal immigrant’ no more.
This is a victory by activists who you may never have paid attention to. For more than two years, the writer and reporter Jose Antonio Vargas—who discovered in his teenage years that he had come to the United States illegally from the Phillippines—has been on a crusade to literally “define ‘American.’” One of his slogans and causes was “no human being is illegal.”
FJP: The AP’s Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll explains in the post that the changes reflect the evolution of the English language.
UPDATE: The New York Times is considering removing the term “Illegal Immigrant” as well.
In Middle English [cunt] could be used as a standard term for the female genitalia, in a manner that was quite matter-of-fact. The earliest instance of the word recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary is actually from the name of a 13th-century London street, Gropecuntelane. The name appears to have been quite literal, and there was at least one other red-light district of the same name, in Oxford. One of the next recorded uses of the word comes from a circa-1400 surgery manual and uses the word much like vagina might be used today: “In women the neck of the bladder is short, and is made fast to the cunt.” Others have noted that some people in the 13th and 14th centuries also had the word in their names, in a way that seems unlikely today: Some men and women at that time included Bele Wydecunthe, Robert Clevecunt, and Gunoka Cuntles. Indeed, as Geoffrey Hughes wrote in his book Swearing, there were many such colorful names, but “the days when the dandelion could be called thepissabed, a heron could be called a shitecrow and the windhover could be called the windfuckerhave passed away with the exuberant phallic advertisement of the codpiece.”
The word became more offensive over the next few centuries. While Chaucer used the variant ‘quaint’ in both the Miller’s Tale (“he caught her by the quaint”) and the Wife of Bath’s Tale (“you hall have quaint right enough at eve”), Shakespeare dared only to slyly allude to the word. In Hamlet, for example, when Ophelia tells Hamlet that, yes, he can lie on her lap, Hamlet puns in his response: “Do you think I meant country matters?” In Twelfth Night, Shakespeare finds a coded way to spell out the word, when Malvolio recognizes his lady’s “C’s, her U’s, ‘n’ her Ts.” (“Thus makes her great P’s,” he continues, in what amounts to an elaborate potty joke.)
Words and phrases are fundamental building blocks of language and culture, much as genes and cells are to the biology of life. And words are how we express ideas, so tracing their origin, development and spread is not merely an academic pursuit but a window into a society’s intellectual evolution.
Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style.
“At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.”
“The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbook gang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.”
Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
This question is near and dear to our hearts. For those who don’t know what’s being referred to, we generally write “Select to embiggen” after we source images in our posts. Makes sense. Click the thing to enlarge it.
But this question is about etymology. And for that we go to a 1996 Simpson’s episode called “Lisa the Iconoclast”:
The episode features two neologisms: embiggen and cromulent. The show runners asked the writers if they could come up with two words which sounded like real words, and these were what they came up with. The Springfield town motto is “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.” Schoolteacher Edna Krabappel comments that she never heard the word embiggens until she moved to Springfield. Miss Hoover, another teacher, replies, “I don’t know why; it’s a perfectly cromulent word.” Later in the episode, while talking about Homer’s audition for the role of town crier, Principal Skinner states, “He’s embiggened that role with his cromulent performance.”
Embiggen—in the context it is used in the episode—is a verb that was coined by Dan Greaney in 1996. The verb previously occurred in an 1884 edition of the British journal Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. by C. A. Ward, in the sentence “but the people magnified them, to make great or embiggen, if we may invent an English parallel as ugly. After all, use is nearly everything.” The literal meaning of embiggen is to make something larger. The word has made its way to common use and was included in Mark Peters’ Yada, Yada, Do’h!, 111 Television Words That Made the Leap From the Screen to Society. In particular, embiggen can be found in string theory. The first occurrence of the word was in the journal High Energy Physics in the article “Gauge/gravity duality and meta-stable dynamical supersymmetry breaking”, which was published on January 23, 2007. For example, the article says: “For large P, the three-form fluxes are dilute, and the gradient of the Myers potential encouraging an anti-D3 to embiggen is very mild.” Later this usage was noted in the journal Nature, which explained that in this context, it means to grow or expand.
So, there’s that.
There’s also our happiness that The Guardian uses embiggen for the same purpose we do. For example, under this graphic used in an article on the Leveson Inquiry that’s been going on in the UK.
So whose word is “embiggen”? Answer’s simple: It’s all of ours. — Michael
Have a question? Ask away.