A recent Telegraph report provoked 120 comments online. The views expressed ranged from angry to sarcastic and incredulous. The intensity of feeling was surprising and included harsh lexis such as: ‘nasty’ ‘scum’ ‘insanity’ ‘pompous little Hitlers’ ‘petty minded Fascists’ ‘halfwits’….. the list goes on.
So what stirred up such a reaction? In an attempt to be avoid offence and to be sensitive to individuals and certain groups Chichester District Council has written a 7 page booklet as a guide for their employees. The term ‘general public’ is promoted as a positive alternative to ‘Man on the street’ to avoid offending women.
How angry does this make you feel? Or does this not bother you at all?
Possibly the comments received online by the Telegraph are more interesting to debate than the leaflet alone. Here we see Political Correctness described as ‘highly offensive’ and ‘a sickness.’ The negative sexual connotations of ‘woman on the street’ are highlighted in more than one comment. Some historical context is given for the usage of ‘man’.
As English Language students you need to form views and express opinions on language issues both in Paper 5 and Paper 6. Exploring the comments expressed by ‘the man on the street’ in response to articles about language issues may help you to form a view. It is not just your teachers who get excited and passionate about language debates!
(Unfortunately my lack of technical ability prevented me from including a google image of a 'man on the street' that would definitely cause offence here in Chichester!)