TW: sexual assault

Should we use the word rape when it’s not about actual rape?

What about retarded or gay?

The meanings of words can change, but sometimes this means conflict as we decide what’s okay and what’s not okay to say.

Linguist Daniel Midgley gives his take on this episode of Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

An Obama surrogate condemns metaphorical ‘rape’ by another Obama surrogate.
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/05/obama-camp-says-clyburns-raping-comment-is-inappropriate/

Then a Catholic priest accused the US government of raping their rights.
http://www.mediaite.com/online/day-after-clyburn-raping-comment-fox-news-father-morris-drops-the-r-bomb/
One would think he’d be more circumspect about throwing the term around.

In other news, the US Senate is combing through its laws to remove the term ‘lunatic’.
http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/229271-senate-agrees-to-strike-lunatic-from-federal-law

A good rundown of the history of the word ‘rape’.
http://www.good.is/post/the-history-of-the-word-rape/

Rapeseed, or canola.
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=canola&allowed_in_frame=0

The word ‘rape’ is even being stricken from legal trials about rape.
http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=5277015&page=1#.T8SSa462fi5

Some people don’t want you to say ‘gay’.
http://www.thinkb4youspeak.com/

Some people don’t want you to say ‘retarded’.
http://www.r-word.org/

Watch as ‘ass’ loses ground to ‘donkey’ over time.
Notice that ‘arse’ stays low in frequency, presumably until it becomes permissible to write about people’s posteriors, then ‘ass’ and ‘arse’ both take off.