University Language Guide: The Word ‘American’ Is Offensive

It "fails to recognize South America."

According to a “Bias-Free Language Guide” used by the University of New Hampshire, the word “American” is “problematic” and therefore should not be used.

“North Americans often use ‘American’ which usually, depending on the contexts, fails to recognize South America,” the guide explains.

“[It] assumes the U.S. is the only country inside these two continents,” it adds.

It recommends using “Resident of the U.S.” or “U.S. citizen” instead.

According to the guide, other “problematic” terms include “opposite sex” (it recommends using “other sex,”) “senior citizen” (it recommends “old people” or “people of advanced age”) and “obese” (it recommends using “people of size.”)

The guide is provided on the school’s official website, and was reported on by Campus Reform. According to its description, it “was prepared for faculty, staff and students of the UNH community to encourage the full range of contributions that we offer as individuals and members of various groups.”

#related#“The guide presents practical revisions in our common usage that can make a difference and break barriers relating to diversity,” the description adds.

In case you are worried that these guidelines are a bit too restrictive, the description assures that that’s not the case:

“This guide is not a means to censor but rather to create dialogues of inclusion where all of us feel comfortable and welcomed,” it states.

Ah yes . . . “inclusion.” Of course.

The guide is prefaced with a quote about “democracy” from MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry:

In a democracy, recognition matters. Everyone wants to be seen as who they are.

If they are not, then it’s impossible for them to enjoy the experience of being full citizens.

(How something like being called  “senior citizens” rather than “old people” could make it “impossible” for people to “enjoy the experience of being full citizens” isn’t clear. )

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.  


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