The Conscious Language Newsletter: February 2024

The problem with focusing on politicians' verbal flubs.


From the World of Conscious Language

Note: The authors' viewpoints are not necessarily shared by CSG.


Obsessing on Gaffes Is Lazy Journalism

“We should be less concerned about minor things politicians do accidentally than major things they do on purpose.” Read >


One Commonly Used Word We Need to Release Into the Abyss of History

“We use ‘idiot’ as an insult and when we do, we unwittingly call forth the language of the past.” Read >


Are You Really in Love? How Expanding Your Love Lexicon Can Change Your Relationships and How You See Yourself

“A culture that is more deliberate about the words it uses for different kinds of attraction can help people bond in new and more open-minded ways.” Read >


“Blue-Eyed” Foreigners Tired of Racially Tinged Language

The interviewees referred to as “blue-eyed” by Koreans regardless of eye color “stressed that the issue is not just about ‘othering’ privileged white foreigners like them, but also about excluding people of other ethnicities that are seen as less desirable.” Read >


Chekhov’s Queer—The Importance of Writing Casually Queer Characters

“It’s critically important for [queer] characters’ identities to be represented on the page casually with zero plot repercussions at all. Why? Because it challenges the default.” Read >


People Have Very Different Understandings of Even the Simplest Words

“The climate risk information coming from the science community is simply indigestible by the financial markets, which means they continually underestimate the dangers of climate change.”—Kris De Meyer, neuroscientist. Read >


Study Finds Potential Gender Stereotypes in Kids’ Food Choice

“All foods are for all bodies of all genders. When television ads or other media suggest otherwise, adults can gently challenge and correct these stereotypes.”—Nichole Kelly, researcher, University of Oregon College of Education. Read >


How to Design a Neurodiverse-Friendly Website

“Thoughtful design that reduces sensory overload contributes to a more comfortable browsing experience for neurodivergent individuals.” Read >

Giveaway for The Conscious Style Guide!

Click to enter. 40 copies available. U.S. residents only. Ends March 1, 2024.

“With its emphasis on critical thinking and the fluid interplay between content and context, The Conscious Style Guide will inspire writers and their editors to make choices that not only respect readers but, in the process, bring us all a little closer to the truth.”

Russell Harper, principal reviser of The Chicago Manual of Style


Are Shows Like “The Good Doctor” and “Love on the Spectrum” Helping or Hurting Autism Awareness?

“There is often an emphasis on stories that make it about somebody overcoming their disability or succeeding despite their disability…as opposed to just highlighting more authentic lived experience of disability.”—Ariel Simms, president and CEO, RespectAbility. Read >


Native American Translations Are Being Added to More US Road Signs to Promote Language and Awareness

Indigenous translations on signs is a way to “revive some Native American languages, highlight a tribe’s sovereignty as well as open the door for wider debates on land rights, discrimination and Indigenous representation in the political process.” Read >


“That’s a Good Girl”: How Women Are Infantilised During Obstetric Care and Labour

“Terms such as ‘silly girl’ or even ‘good girl’ infantilises and disempowers the patient, positioning them as helpless and entirely reliant on expert intervention from medical professionals.” Read >


A Guide to Designing for Older Adults

“Today, one billion people are 60 years or older. That’s 12% of the entire world population…Yet, online, the needs of older adults are often overlooked or omitted.” Read >


How to Communicate Compassion at Work

“A very useful mantra for communicating with compassion is to ask yourself this famous phrase before you say anything: ‘Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?’” Read >


A Journalist’s Guide to Disability for Election 2024

Tips on improving representation of people with disability, such as “Include the perspectives of people with disabilities in all kinds of stories, not just ones talking about disability.” Read >


“The habit of over-apologizing is ultimately rooted in people being conditioned to feel like they must account for themselves, regardless of whether doing so is actually linked to any coherent or rational sense of morality.” Read >


Speciesism in AI: Built-In Biases Hinder Animal Welfare Reform and Plant-Based Diets

“An AI system had been asked to produce an image depicting a vegan Christmas dinner, yet…still managed to churn out a scene featuring a roast turkey.” Read >

New and Notable on CSG

Conference Inclusivity Resource

Tips, guides, and checklists that support organizers in creating equitable, inclusive events, including what language to consider or avoid. Visit Empowerment >

From the Archives

Putting Language on a Meat-Free Diet

“It’s good that restaurants broaden their selections to account for folks with various dietary needs, so isn’t it time for food-related language to accommodate as many folks as possible?” Read >

In Case You Missed It

In the January 2024 newsletter…

  • A Guide to Difficult Conversations for People Who Hate Confrontation

  • Why Parents Give Their Children a Last Name Other Than the Father’s

  • Why “Openly Gay” Is an Offensive Term

Stuff to Buy

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Photo by Uni-T.

You Need This T-Shirt! Play, work, and sleep in the super soft “Make Peace With Words” T-shirt. Choose from a variety of colors. (Sizes: Fitted shirts available in XXS through XXL, and straight-cut shirts available in XS through XXL.) Hand-printed with love. Your purchase supports two small businesses owned by women of color. Why make peace? Read the article!

Shop for Diverse Picture Books: On (my storefront), find exceptional picture books that spread understanding, compassion, and joy through diverse representation.

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Other Resources

Join Our Online Community: Are you on Facebook? Join the Conscious Language + Design Facebook Group to learn, share, and chat with others who are curious or serious about conscious language.

Find Editors of Color: The Editors of Color Database helps recruiters connect with editors, proofreaders, and sensitivity readers of color in the U.S. and Canada. You can submit job listings for distribution to our private network and explore the 100+ resources in Diverse Databases, which highlights underrepresented groups. Diversify your sources now!

Get More Tips on Instagram: Follow @ConsciousStyleGuide for examples of context that supports sensitive content.

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