We don’t seem to mind when words are created, but who decides when a word should be retired?

This week, the Associated Press decided that it would refrain from using the words homophobia and Islamophobia. What’s behind the change? Will this make a difference in our vocabulary?

Linguist Daniel Midgley investigates on this episode of Talk the Talk.

Listen to this episode

Or subscribe via iTunes
Click here for more options: How to listen to Talk the Talk

Show notes

The Associated Press Stylebook has nixed the word ‘homophobia’.

It’s sort of a style guide for writers and reporters.

John Aravosis of AmericaBlog has some comments about homophobia and Islamophobia:

The word ‘Islamophobia’ has been around for a while.

Lots of words have other senses of meaning. ‘Chronic’ means ‘long-term’, but people use it to mean ‘really bad’.

Helena from Morning Chorus points out that ‘phobia’ does not always mean ‘fear’.

Someone once tried to use ‘homophobia’ to mean ‘fear of people’ or some such, but it didn’t take.

No entry on ‘homophobia’ would be complete without a Google Ngram chart!