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Posted by Smokey Stover on October 19, 2004

In Reply to: No wonder... posted by Word Camel on October 18, 2004

: : : : : : A friend from the UK just brought me a newspaper clipping that says "Bedlam", "nitpicking" and "brainstorm" among others) have been outlawed in in goverment work places because they might offend someone?

: : : : : Weird. Bedlam I can understand. But I don't see how nitpicking and brainstorm could offend anyone.

: : : : "Nitpicking" because it supposedly refers to the nits in the hair of slaves (a variation on th edubious nitty gritty theme), and "brainstorm" because it might offend mentally ill people.

: : : : All this would be terrible not least because it is necessary to have access to the term "bedlam" when dealing with the UK civil service.

: : : : I'm also wondering whether, if someone were seriously mentally ill, whether there might be many other words one would find offensive - like "door knob" or "egg whisk" or "mustache"?

: : : I'm deeply offended that you said do*r kn*b, and I may sue. But "brainstorm"? Perhaps they thought it was "bra in storm," meaning rained-upon undergarments. Eh? Potentially offensive?

: : Some fairly highly placed official was recently forced to resign for using the word "niggardly" in some speech he gave... God help us. The PC stormtroopers are at the gate.

: Terry Pratchett portrayed T Blair as vampire...

Niggardly. It happened in the U.S., and I don't think anyone resigned. Some official in Philadelphia was commenting on the stinginess of the budget he was given, and two of his subordinates misunderstood the word "niggardly" to be racist. They were, of course, and I think they got some civil rights organization interested. But reporters soon disabused the complainers of their notions about "niggardly," and the publicity made the complainers look like idiots. You can find your way to the complete story by consulting Lexis-Nexus or the N.Y. Times Index. SS