Wednesday, April 9, 2008

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

If you type in "weaker" into Thesaurus.com, you get this.
Again, in case it gets taken down.
Seriously?!?!

Via Feministing

Also, I was just typing things into the same website researching for a comment, and I found that the synonyms for "black man" include, but are not limited to: "SOB, bad egg, bad news, cheater, conman, lowlife, villian."
Offended yet?

15 comments:

Amelia said...

You might want to copy the entry into this post, or do a screen shot like Jessica did, just in case it gets taken down, or what have you.

There were some interesting discussions about older meanings of the words given, but it's odd that "female" and "lady" are the ONLY words they chose to include...

Suzie Homemaker said...

women are the physically weaker sex. And for centuries they have been viewed as "weaker." Thus making it an appropriate synonym for weaker in some countries.

Anonymous said...

Since it's in the dictionary, it MUST be true!

margaret t said...

it is in the thesaurus, not the dictionary, anonymous...

Lindsay said...

Just because something has been viewed in a particular way for centuries doesn't mean it's accurate or appropriate.

Michael said...

It might not be something that we agree with, but that doesn't mean it's not linguistically important.
"The weaker sex" is a part of linguistics, and the responsibility of dictionaries and thesauri to objectively record and report words and their definitions and synonyms, not to judge whether or not they are appropriate. Suggesting that the dictionary should be censored is rather Orwellian, and definitely DoublePlusUnGood.

Also, $5 says "Suzie Homemaker" is a guy.

OutcrazyOphelia said...

"'The weaker sex' is a part of linguistics, and the responsibility of dictionaries and thesauri to objectively record and report words and their definitions and synonyms--"

But dictionaries and thesaurus(es) change along with the language. If the term is no longer accepted, it's not that it should be wiped from the dictionary but it should be noted within the definition. Especially in the case of a thesaurus, people use those looking for alternative words, and if it's no longer acceptable, it's not really a functioning synonym anymore and should be noted.

But I think the search is just a little stupid and included women because "the weaker sex" is included in that article so it conflated the two as being synonymous--even though their own entry says they aren't really.

Michael said...

When reading an old book, why wouldn't you desire to have access to a dictionary or thesaurus that kept the older, less current meanings of words on hand? I can't count the number of times I used a dictionary or thesaurus to look up an uncommon or old definition of a word in an English class when reading literature. Just because it's old doesn't mean it shouldn't be included. Dictionaries add information with time because languages add information with time. Old information is still valid, no matter how unpleasant it might be.

Kate said...

What about terms that have been determined to be offensive? I just checked, and thesauras.com does not have the N-word.

However, synonyms for black man do include: "SOB, bad egg, outlaw, problem." OMG. I think I am going to add that to the post.

I am now thorougly offended for the day.

Anonymous said...

Hey margaret t, easy on the criticism. Thesaurus.com is hosted by the same people as dictionary. So yeah, it's in the damn dictionary.

Michael said...

Hey, it's still an index of words. Personally, I think the N-word should be in there, because it certainly is a word with a particular meaning. Censoring the dictionary is insanely Orwellian.

Michael said...

Also, after looking at the entry for 'black man', I suspect it has something to do with a mercenary or assassin of sorts. It was probably a colloquial or "wink wink nudge" term for 'hired goon'.

Colt said...

Land of the free, home of the easily offended.

suzie homemaker said...

i agree with colt. people get offended easily. but seriously - women have always been labeled the weaker sex. it's something that's a fact. and to many, that vision still has not changed. i notice that no one is really offended by the entry for "black man" - so you may be on your own on this one...

And Michael, $20 says I'm a girl.

judgesnineteen said...

Y'all know how feminist I am, but I don't think the thesaurus is at fault for this, I'm with michael. I do have a problem with the synonyms for black man though. "The weaker sex" is used to mean "women" - that's its definition, whether I like it or not. (I think it started in 2 Peter in the Bible). But "bad egg" just means someone bad, it's not especially tied to the notion of "black man". That's not only offensive, but bad linguistics (unless some people use it that way and I just don't know about it).

Also, that thesaurus lists all kinds of words together - really formal ones with really informal ones, without marking the distinction. It's not that crazy that they didn't say anything about offensiveness here.