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Galimatias Blog

If you can´t say anything nice, don´t say anything at all? – Navigating political correctness in English

Kirjoittanut: Darryl Stafford / 15.11.2019 8:58

If you have been following the news from the Anglosphere (the English-speaking world) you may have noticed how often discussions around the topic of political correctness are coming up. Political correctness can be defined as, ‘the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude (reject, keep out), marginalize (treat as insignificant), or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against’1

At its best, political correctness works as a respectful way of allowing for diverse groups to interact without causing offence. The Anglo (English) countries, with long histories of immigration, are very diverse and multicultural. This enriches the societies but also poses challenges. Political correctness is an attempt to address these challenges to find more fair, humane, and unbiased (neutral) ways to interact with each other.

My Finnish students often mention how difficult it is for them to understand prepositions. If this is the case, it could be very hard to follow the subtle (small) difference made by the preposition ‘of’ in the terms: ‘person of colour’ (the politically correct term) and ‘coloured person’ (which many would find highly offensive). Or, if in your language the third-person pronoun is gender-neutral (as with the Finnish ‘hän’) and trying to organize ‘he’ and ‘she’ causes plenty of confusion, and very mixed-up storytelling, how do you approach a situation where using the incorrect pronoun may be taken as not respecting someone’s gender identity? There has been a recent explosion of new third-person pronouns to match non-binary (not just two-sided) gender identities (a list of examples can be seen on the link in the enclosed material).


There is no need to revert (go back to) to out-dated modes of language learning where you humbly remain silent, waiting for the moment you have mastered perfect fluency before you speak. Enclosed are a few tips to introduce you to some of the key issues and to help guide you through the world of politically correct English. If you want to learn more about this subject, do not hesitate to contact Galimatias. There is a special offer for this theme.

[1] Definition taken from: https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/

Aiheet: English, culture, crosculture, tips, English language, politeness in English

Darryl Stafford

Kirjoittajana Darryl Stafford

PhD, M.A. in History, minor in Linguistics. TEFL Certification. English language trainer and interested in cross-cultural communication.


Galimatias on vuonna 1996 perustettu valmennusyritys, joka tarjoaa palveluja yrityksille, organisaatioille ja julkishallinnolle.

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