Friday, May 5, 2017

English Etiquette: How to Deal with Biased Language

Taking IELTS review center classes is one of the most effective preparation methods for the high-stakes exam. First-rate training facilities, like the IELTS review center in Makati, assist extensive courses that cover all the test essentials to guarantee success.

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IELTS review center instructors know the international English proficiency evaluation intimately as former test takers themselves. With their first-hand experience, they can deliver in-depth discussions about the assessment's critical points and the effective strategy approaches. The teachers of IELTS review center in Makati also administer practice exams to help their students adjust to the demands of the test.

One of the lesson points that most IELTS review centers cover is the usage of biased language. Though stereotypical and degrading application of language is a practice frowned upon in most societies, many people still use biased language from time to time. Here is a general overview on how to deal with biased language.

The Impact of Biased Language in Communication 

Biased language refers to the usage of terms and phrases that degrade, label, offend, or exclude people due to their gender, sex, physical appearance, mental abilities, social class, cultural background, religious standing, and other prejudiced misconceptions. Here are some of the reasons using biased language is a no-no.
•    Biased language is disrespectful. It demeans and insults an individual or a group to which the degrading words and phrases are applied to.

•    Biased language creates communication barriers. Due to the lack of respect and false assumptions brought about its application, biased language divides people and excludes the antagonized individual or group.

•    Biased language follows the fallacy of Argumentum ad populum. Also known as the fallacy of appeal to majority, this misconception decrees that a statement is factual because many or the majority of the people believe in it. Stereotypical language presumes that a group - due to its size or prominence - established the standard for other associated entities.

 Most Common Types of Biased Language

Growing old is a concept that always receives mixed reviews. Not everyone associates aging with wisdom and maturity. Be meticulous in your word choice when referring to senior people. Avoid using derogatory terms like geriatric, decrepit, and senile. Be wary of how you use the words elderly, aged, and old. In most situations, it is best to use phrases like "older person," "older people," and "senior citizens."

Sexist language is a prevalent concept in the English language. Be wary of making generalizations such as "man," "mankind," and "man-made." Use nonsexist terms like "humanity," "people," "human beings," "synthetic," and "manufactured." While most of these words and phrases were commonly used in the previous decades, it is more respectful if you steer clear of using them. Likewise, be aware of your speech and writing when describing men and women especially when it comes to gender roles, bias, and discrimination.

Sexual Orientation

Be aware of how you refer to another person. Some people prefer to be mentioned based on their sexual orientation – “transsexual” individuals in particular. Be respectful. Avoid using words like "gay," and "lesbian" in an offensive manner. Likewise, never use insulting words like "faggot."

National Origin and Cultural Background

Take note of words and phrases that are used to refer to racial and ethnic groups. Some of them are clearly demeaning - such as Negro and colored - while others are inaccurate and outdated - such as colored and oriental. Use more specific terms like “Hispanic,” “African-American,” “Latino,” “Chinese,” and “Japanese” when referring to a specific group of people. 

Religious Beliefs
Biased and stereotypical language is also prevalent in religion. A perfect example of this prejudiced conceptions are the ones surrounding Islam. Due to the heinous acts committed by a few members of their religion, Muslims are labeled as terrorists and treated with fear and apprehension. As a general rule, be wary of your word choices when talking about sensitive topics.

While it may not directly affect your IELTS score, never use language in a stereotypical or biased manner. Be polite and respectful when talking to other people regardless of their background and choices. Consider the points above when you take your IELTS exam and be a step closer to reaching your dreams abroad.

  • “Avoid Language Bias.” IELTS Mentor. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • Nordquist, Richard. “Biased Language.” Though Co. December 11, 2015. Accessed April 18, 2017.
  • “Stereotypes and Biased Language.” Owl English Purdue. Accessed April 18, 2017.

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