Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Biased Language Definition and Examples The term biased language refers toÃ wordsÃ andÃ phrasesÃ that are considered prejudiced, offensive, and hurtful. Biased language includes expressions that demean or exclude people because of age, sex, race, ethnicity, social class, or physical or mental traits.Ã Bias in language refers to language that is uneven or unbalanced or not a fair representation, says the University of Massachusetts Lowell, adding that you should strive to avoid bias in writing and speaking because such language may contain Ã¢â¬Å"hidden messagesÃ¢â¬ about the superiority or inferiority of various groups or types of people. Examples of Biased Language BiasÃ is prejudice toward or unfair characterization of the members of a particular group, says Stacie Heaps writing onÃ WriteExpress: Bias is so common in speech and writing that we often are not even aware of it. But it is the responsibility of everyone to become conscious of and write without bias. Heaps gives several examples of bias together with alternative (and unbiased) phrasing: Biased Language Alternatives If he is elected, he would be the first person of color in the White House. lf he is elected, he would be the first African-American in the White House. He has had the physical handicap since he was 5 years old. He has had the physical impairment since he was 5 years old. There are many elderly people in our town. There are many senior citizens (or seniors) in our town. Be sensitive to the feelings of the opposite sex, minorities, and special interest groups saysÃ Cengage: Dont emphasize differences by separating society into we andÃ they by singling out minorities, particular genders, or groups of people such as those with disabilities and senior citizens. How to Avoid Bias in Your Writing Purdue OWLÃ provides some examples of biased language with alternatives you could use to avoid gender bias: Biased Writing Alternatives mankind humanity, people, human beings manÃ¢â¬â¢s achievements human achievements manmade synthetic, manufactured, machine-made the common man the average person, ordinary people man the stockroom staff the stockroom nine manhours nine staff-hours You have to be on guard against bias because it can so easily creep into your writing or speaking, but Cengage says its easy to avoid, as in this example: Before a surgeon can operate,Ã heÃ must know every relevant detail or the patients history. Remove the bias with just a simple adjustment: Before operating,Ã aÃ surgeonÃ must know every relevant detail of the patients history. You can just as easily avoid bias in race. Dont say: Attending the meetings were three doctors and an Asian computer programmer. In the example, AsianÃ is preferred toÃ Oriental, but why even single out this persons ethnicity? The sentence did not specify the ethnicity of the doctors, who were presumably Caucasian. Examples and Observations Be on guard for these types of bias in writing and speaking: Age:Ã Avoid derogatory or condescending terms associated with age. Little old lady can be rephrased as aÃ woman in her 80s, while an immature adolescent is better described as a teenager or teen.Politics:Ã In any election campaign, words referring to politics are full of connotations. Consider, for instance, how the word liberal has been used with positive or negative connotations in various election campaigns. Take care with words and phrases like radical, left-wing, and right-wing. Consider how your readers are expected to interpret these biased words.Religion:Ã Some older encyclopedia editions referred to devout Catholics and fanatical Muslims. Newer editions refer to both Catholics and Muslims as devout, thus eliminating biased language.Ã Health and abilities:Ã Avoid phrases like confined to a wheelchair and victim (of a disease), so as not to focus on differences and disability. Instead, write or say someone who uses a wheelchair and a person withÃ (a disease). Biased language can defeat your purpose by damaging your credibility, say GeraldÃ J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu in their Handbook of Technical Writing. They add: The easiest way to avoid bias is simply not to mention differences among people unless the differences are relevant to the discussion. Keep current with accepted usage and, if you are unsure of the appropriateness of the expression or the tone of a passage, have several colleagues review the material and give you their assessments. As you write and speak, remember that biased language insults the person or group to which it is applied, sayÃ Robert DiYanni and Pat C. Hoy II in their book, The Scribner Handbook for Writers. When you use biased language- even inadvertently- you denigrate others, creating division and separation, they say. So, strive to use unbiased language, and you will show that as a speaker or writer, you are including all potential members of your audience without segregating and referring pejoratively to a select few.