Saturday, November 27, 2010

Zaffirini pushes the term "retarded" towards the "word graveyard" shouldn't be saying that.

On Saturday, Nov.27th  Texas Tribune reports :
Disability advocates want Texas lawmakers to put the term "retarded" in the "word graveyard" with other derogatory terms.

Advocates gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to support SB 26, filed by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, which would require past and future state laws to replace terms like “crippled” and “mentally retarded” with phrases such as “persons with disabilities” or “persons with intellectual disabilities.”

“The term itself, when it was first started, was designed to be very professional and have a good connotation to it, but it digressed over the years, and it’s a term that is used to insult others,” said Gerard Jimenez, governmental affairs chairman for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas.
I recall taking an etymology (study of word origins) class with the late Dr. Briggs in which we covered how words can either be elevated in status or degraded. An example of a word being elevated is the word "wife". At one time, it simply meant woman. A fishwife was a woman who sold fish. With the passage of time, the word was elevated and came to mean a very special kind of woman, one that you would want to marry. On the other side of the coin, the word "knave" has deteriorated in meaning. At one point in time, it simply meant a young boy, or servant. Now the word has come to mean a dishonest person. It looks like the word "retarded" is another such example. At one time, it was a proper and accepted word. Now it has become a word that is to be avoided if at all possible, even if it takes a law to get rid of it.

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