European Union officials have decided to create a dictionary of “unemotional vocabulary used in conversations about radicalization”. For example, “Islamic terrorism” will now be called “terrorism which violently appeals to Islam”, and “Islamic fundamentalism” will be “fundamentalism based on a false interpretation of Islam”.
Until now only a small amount is known about the dictionary. Linguists have not yet joined the ranks of its authors. It should be completed by June. It will then be sent to be agreed upon by each of the 25 governments, the European Commission and the European Parliament. Of course the use of the terminology listed in the dictionary can only be recommended. In other words, if for example a Euro MP uses the term “jihad”, he will not be fined, but his colleagues will regard the use of this word as improper.
Moreover, the authors will recommend the use of the new, original interpretations for the phrases “Islamic terrorism”, “Islamic fundamentalism”, “jihad”, “Islamist” only in the context of describing terrorist acts, violence or any forms of aggression. Therefore if people decide, for example, to discuss “fundamentalism” outside the context of aggression, but exclusively for a peaceful subject matter, it will not be considered improper.
The terms mentioned above really make up all the dictionary entries which EU officials have thought of so far. When linguists join in their work, the number of entries will increase substantially.
“We were prompted to create the dictionary by our unwillingness to use obscene words which could provoke disenchantment among Muslims and increase the risk of radicalization. For us jihad means one thing, but for Muslims it means something completely different,” Euro officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph at a conference in Berlin on the question of radicalization. They continued: “Jihad is an absolute, positive concept explaining how to defeat evil within oneself”.
Officials in Brussels are viewing the introduction of the new terminology into the everyday speech of EU citizens with optimism. However, far from all the EU member states are intending to popularize this terminology. London is quite doubtful as to whether it will approve such a dictionary.
A Daily Telegraph source in the British Foreign Office said that the politically correct terminology will probably interest continental governments, as their countries have not been so exposed to Muslim influence. (On the other hand they are more exposed to feminist influence. A few days ago a group of French feminists demanded that their fellow citizens stop using the word “mademoiselle”, as it is indicative of the family status of girls. In Switzerland the use of this mode of address is already considered extremely impolite.)
However the fact that governments might not accept these linguistic undertakings does not undermine the optimism of EU officials. Within the apparatus of Gijs de Vreis, counter-terrorist coordinator for the European Union, it was confirmed to Gazeta that he approved the idea of creating the dictionary. For the time being it is not known when the book will first be published.
Strangely, the term “political correctness” was first invented by the Bolsheviks. They meant the need to persistently follow the party’s maxims. It did not become established in the USSR. It came into fashion in the 1980s in the USA, but rather as an ironic synonym for the word “euphemism”. By the end of the 1980s it had obtained the meaning which it has today – the unemotional and unbiased choice of words in conversations about sexual, racial or ethnic background.
The birth of a politically correct layer in society has quickly led to the appearance in America of a group critical of the new trend. They maintained that PC represents a threat to free speech and is equivalent to censorship. To be fair we must note that the amount of critics in American society is extremely small.
In general being PC in America, and in most of the English-speaking world, means being an educated, cultured and liberal person.
Here are some examples of politically correct terminology: (the politically correct version follows the generally accepted, “outdated” word)
“Congressman” – “member of congress”
“Officer’s wife” – “officer’s spouse” (it is hard to understand why the word ‘wife’ is politically incorrect)
“Black people” – “Afro-Americans”. It is interesting to note that at first the word “black” was viewed as politically incorrect, which was then replaced by “negro”. Then someone decided, that negro sounds even more incorrect, and came up with the term Afro-American. The current trend is now replacing Afro-American with African-American.
“Eskimos” – “Inuit”. In their national language “inuit” just means person.
“Brainstorm” – “Thought shower”. A group of British teachers suggested this term, having decided that brainstorm is insulting to epileptics.
Finally, “foreign students” have become “international students”.
Now EU officials will add to this list.
Translated by James Platt