Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

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BMFJack
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:10 am

Thanks for the links brythain, they were informative if not quite relevant.
brythain wrote:From the two dozen or so official documents and papers and commentaries I've read so far, the adjective 'mute' is sometimes seen as the offensive part of the composite adjective 'deaf-mute'.
Generally, deaf people don't mind being called deaf, so it's the 'mute' part which may offend them if used on them.
Mirage and I have both been over this already, but "deaf-mute" is considered offensive because it is a term that assumes that all deaf people are mute, or that someone is mute because they are deaf.
brythain wrote:Additionally, communication-based disciplines (journalism, PR etc) have a slightly tighter list of guidelines. From various style guides, they prefer things like 'woman without speech' as opposed to 'mute'.
I only read from the links you provided, but "person without speech" is preferred over "mute" because in the link you provided is in reference to people with speech disorders and not people who can't/won't talk, so using "mute" would be inaccurate.

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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by brythain » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:32 am

BMFJack wrote:I only read from the links you provided, but "person without speech" is preferred over "mute" because in the link you provided is in reference to people with speech disorders and not people who can't/won't talk, so using "mute" would be inaccurate.
Well, then you should only use 'mute' for people who won't talk (i.e. selectively mute). People who can't talk clearly have the ultimate in speech disorders. Right?

Edit: unless you mean something like 'can't talk because my mouth is full', which would be silly.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:39 am

Straight from wikipedia, although I'm sure it's detailed in many places the same way:

Speech disorders or speech impediments are a type of communication disorder where 'normal' speech is disrupted. This can mean stuttering, lisps, etc. Someone who is unable to speak due to a speech disorder is considered mute.

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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by brythain » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:56 am

BMFJack wrote:Straight from wikipedia, although I'm sure it's detailed in many places the same way:

Speech disorders or speech impediments are a type of communication disorder where 'normal' speech is disrupted. This can mean stuttering, lisps, etc. Someone who is unable to speak due to a speech disorder is considered mute.
So since those links refer to people who have a speech disorder, by your argument, it's commonly accepted (at least by journalists and people like that) that we don't use 'mute' and use 'without speech' instead, surely. 'Mute' is the correct terminology, I've no doubt. But a seemingly large section of the Fourth Estate (yes, I can show you many more links) prefers to use 'without speech' or 'person without speech'. PC, I know. -shrug-

[LINK]: TL;DR — "Mute: This is generally considered a derogatory term referring to a person who physically cannot speak. It also implies that people who do not use speech are unable to express themselves, which is not true."

Source: NCDJ — "Welcome to the National Center on Disability and Journalism, headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. The goal of the NCDJ is to provide support and guidance for journalists as they cover people with disabilities."
Last edited by brythain on Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:27 am

It really depends on whether or not the person with the speech disorder talks or not. If they talk but it's disrupted, then they're not mute. If they choose not to talk because of their speech disorder or their speech disorder causes them to be unable to talk, then they're mute.

In regards to the politically correct thing, I find that because of the tendency of Americans to get offended over just about anything, that people who are overly polite will go through great lengths to avoid offending everyone. It's an extremely massive waste of energy, but it happens nonetheless.

Then, in regards to the preference of "without speech" I find that journalists and media outlets simply want the maximum amount of people to see and understand their reporting, so they'll use the most simplistic terms possible. "Mute" is very easy to understand and I think most people know what it means, but since we can find some evidence of debate over what "Mute" means (not to mention it's offensive status) the fourth powers would use "without speech" because it's self explanatory, and I'd be willing to bet that anyone who fluently speaks english can easily understand it.

The problem with the link you posted is that it asserts something which isn't exclusively true ("This is generally considered a derogatory term referring to a person who physically cannot speak.") as there are many forms of muteness, and then it asserts an implication which I've not only never heard of, but cannot find reference to anywhere. Journalistic organizations do have a tendency to distort the truth, after all.
Last edited by BMFJack on Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by brythain » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:31 am

BMFJack wrote:It really depends on whether or not the person with the speech disorder talks or not. If they talk but it's disrupted, then they're not mute. If they choose not to talk because of their speech disorder or their speech disorder causes them to be unable to talk, then they're mute.

In regards to the politically correct thing, I find that because of the tendency of Americans to get offended over just about anything, that people who are overly polite will go through great lengths to avoid offending everyone. It's an extremely massive waste of energy, but it happens nonetheless.

Then, in regards to the preference of "without speech" I find that journalists and media outlets simply want the maximum amount of people to see and understand their reporting, so they'll use the most simplistic terms possible. "Mute" is very easy to understand and I think most people know what it means, but since we can find some evidence of debate over what "Mute" means (not to mention it's offensive status) the fourth powers would use "without speech" because it's self explanatory, and I'd be willing to bet that anyone who fluently speaks english can easily understand it.
I'd say that the key finding is that a significant population in the Anglophone world does find it derogatory and/or offensive. So, while not curtailing free speech, we balance that freedom with the choice to not use such terms in certain situations.

Edit. Here's a nice wrap-up, I guess. [LINK]. It doesn't home in on 'mute', but it does point out that usage of nouns is not to be preferred over the formula 'person who is X' or 'person with X'. And it mentions a few other terms we'd probably be interested in.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:37 am

brythain wrote:I'd say that the key finding is that a significant population in the Anglophone world does find it derogatory and/or offensive.
Where did you get that, exactly?

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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:42 am

So I found this:
http://www.quora.com/Is-the-word-mute-o ... eaf-people

Despite all the things I'd been told and heard, had my ASL instructor use the term commonly, it seems as though the greater Deaf community does indeed find the term offensive. One deaf person on the thread said it's equivalent to "nigger" or "cunt"

I apologize; since I couldn't find a single thing until now I couldn't imagine it being an offensive term, but there you have it. I was wrong.

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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by brythain » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:46 am

BMFJack wrote:
brythain wrote:I'd say that the key finding is that a significant population in the Anglophone world does find it derogatory and/or offensive.
Where did you get that, exactly?
From all those sources, there must be some fairly large population in the English-speaking world that to various extents finds the word so. I'm drawing a conclusion from reasonable sample size. A sample size need not be enormously ('exceeding the norm') huge to be significant... heh, most people find that ONE significant other is enough. :)
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:54 am

Although from what I'm reading, having improved my google-fu, it seems as though it's a case-by-case basis. Some find it offensive (and they never give a reason why) and some don't. I've yet to encounter anything that says that "voice-off" is the preferred term, only that at least some Deaf people think "mute" is offensive. If I'm picking up on context clues correctly, the deaf people who find mute offensive can talk, so maybe they're simply offended that people think they're mute just because they're deaf.

Given that there's so much documentation that implies "Mute" isn't offensive, I'm surprised there hasn't been more talk on the matter; every time I've searched the web I come across this very thread.

Then I come across this little number: http://www.ellasflashlight.com/?p=8

Which is a vlog written by a woman who is deaf and cannot speak, she claims the sign for "Deaf" is actually literally translated as "Deaf-mute"

"a literal translation of the common sign for DEAF, the index finger covering the ear, then covering the mouth, is DEAF-MUTE…yes, that’s the root meaning, so literally many of us have been saying we are “Deaf mutes” proudly for a long time"

So I just don't even know what to think anymore. Still can't find any institutions organized by the Deaf community that claim "mute" is offensive when it is used correctly, but since there are a fair number of deaf people who take offense, I wont use it when dealing with the Deaf community anymore, despite the fact that it's never been a problem in the past.

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Re: Anyone else hate Misha?

Post by Trogdor » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:36 am

metalangel wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:The definition of the word "mute" includes selective mutism, so I don't see why using the term should be wrong.
If some people choose to be offended by that term… Well, there's nothing nobody will be offended by - especially in the US it seems.

People should consider if there is an intent to insult before they take offense from such things - and in the case of the word "mute" I can't imagine a situation where it would be used with such intent - especially if the alternative is a word few people have even heard.

You should consider respecting the other person's wishes to not have that word used to describe them, irregardless of your own views as to whether it should be seen as offensive.
You should consider it acceptable to have to invent new terms for every social group every 15 to 20 years because they accrete connotations like a proto-planet accretes asteroids. That's really what Political Correctness is, telling people it's OK to run away from stereotypes by changing their name every so often instead of confronting them head on.

I bet this runs full circle, and in another few decades, you see people who ARE deaf saying "what's wrong with using the m-word?"
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Re: Anyone else hate Misha?

Post by BMFJack » Sun Feb 01, 2015 7:43 am

Trogdor wrote:in another few decades, you see people who ARE deaf saying "what's wrong with using the m-word?"
You don't have to wait that long. There are plenty of deaf people who have no problems with it right now.

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