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

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BMFJack
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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by BMFJack » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:15 am

ProfAllister wrote:Should we care? There's not really any obligation, but it's the polite thing to do.
For me personally, it's a matter of reason and logic. If I could see some reason why mute was offensive, I wouldn't use it. I've never know mute to be used derogatorily, and as far as I know it's never had any negative connotations. All of the definitions I can find (medical or otherwise) state that it's a simple matter of someone not speaking. Whether by choice or not is irrelevant to the definition: If you don't speak (for whatever reason) then you're mute.

Honestly I think the whole thing stems from people who don't understand that deaf does not include mute, that they are two separate things. People who didn't know any better started calling all deaf people "deaf-mute" and instead of correcting them, people just get offended.

I still think Atario said it best:
Atario wrote:That's well and good, but there's a problem with the response being to forbid terminology: that it encourages the presumption of inferiority. Term X used to be fine to describe Group A; but now it's considered insulting, so we must all move on to the fresh shiny new Term Y. But what happened to make Term X change into an insult? The only thing that happened to it was its long association with Group A. Therefore, in forbidding Term X, we must be saying that Group A is so bad that it gradually infects the very words used to describe it. Apply Term Y, wait till that one is also considered insulting, invent Term Z, rinse and repeat ad infinitum.
We've already seen it happen once with "dumb" and we tried changing terminology. It didn't work. So instead of repeating a failed solution, shouldn't there be an alternative? If not, in another 20-40 years "voice-off" will be deemed offensive and there will be a new term to replace it, something like "silence preferred" or "hands only", which will in turn become offensive eventually also.

Break the cycle.

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Re: Anyone else hate Misha?

Post by metalangel » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:10 pm

Atario wrote: Deadly serious. And I don't appreciate your dismissive tone.
I didn’t really like the flippant and frankly ridiculous assertion that because your TV remote makes ‘muting’ the sound a choice, therefore the term ‘mute’ is correct, acceptable, and always denotes a choice.
This is an argument from authority, and it erroneously presumes a particular type of muteness to be the only type. Furthermore, if one can be "deaf-blind" or any other combination of things, there's no reason why that particular combination should be "unacceptable", Association or no.
Context is crucial in this case, as it’s from a list of terminology. I should have included the link but didn’t expect this to go so far.

http://www.cad.ca/terminology_links.php
Again, this presupposes that "mute" can only mean physically incapable, which is incorrect. In fact, in the dictionary definition I'm looking at right now, the first one listed is "refraining from speech or utterance", and only when we come to the definition where it mentions being "incapable" does it say the term is offensive in that use — the one you're advocating be the only one. At any rate, it seems that those taking offense at the term are assuming the offensive version and not the benign one. But it shouldn't be surprising; taking offense is a well-known pastime.
I’m not saying it’s the only one, I’m saying that in the context of people who are deaf, it is considered offensive and incorrect. That is the context in which they’re taking offense too.
That's well and good, but there's a problem with the response being to forbid terminology: that it encourages the presumption of inferiority. Term X used to be fine to describe Group A; but now it's considered insulting, so we must all move on to the fresh shiny new Term Y. But what happened to make Term X change into an insult? The only thing that happened to it was its long association with Group A. Therefore, in forbidding Term X, we must be saying that Group A is so bad that it gradually infects the very words used to describe it. Apply Term Y, wait till that one is also considered insulting, invent Term Z, rinse and repeat ad infinitum. This is the Dysphemism Treadmill.

Instead of saying "don't use Term X because it insults those poor, pitiable members of Group A", we should be saying "there's nothing wrong with being in Group A, so why would Term X be insulting?".
That is why in many cases, Group A seeks to ‘reclaim’ Term X and turn its meaning around. I think I said that already, too.
Er. What? You mute something when the sound is annoying you, which is an assumption that the sound is the problem, the unusual thing. The muteness is a blessed relief from vexation. I have pretty positive associations with it…
Your perceptions and associations with the word differ from other people’s. Why can’t you accept that? That’s why this whole argument is even continuing. People debated on Shizune’s ‘muteness’, I explained that to a deaf person that the term can be considered offensive and was incorrect in Shizune’s case anyway. People asked why, I explained, and then out came the dictionaries and arguing back that not only did they disagree with it being offensive, that it was wrong to even see it as offensive. Now it’s this whole bigger thing that seems to have the basic message that anyone who finds something offensive is being a petulant child and should just stop complaining. I’m sure that Stephen Fry quote is on the way.
Adopting this as a general policy is the surest way I can think of to invest the maximum power possible into the loudest complainers.
There’s a delicious irony in that statement which lightens this mood here somewhat. For a brief moment, at least.

Back on point – what? You’re afraid of give an inch and they’ll take a foot, because they’d rather you didn’t use a certain term?
Ah, but you see, disabilities are an expressly allowed topic in all cases! We're immune! Immune, I say! [Thread immediately gets locked anyway]
People have learned a few things here, albeit in an unpleasant way.
Yeah, Mirage, don't you know you don't get to have agency of your own or advocate for your own viewpoint? I mean, at least pick a group to be a part of so you can join in on the forbidding.
Why would you persist afterwards except to cause trouble?
Every person in the world is described using a plethora of terms all the time, none of which they themselves chose. I never chose the term "brown-haired"; so do I get to forbid you from using it because I've taken some notion to be offended by it? And then do I get to go on to demand that you start using the term "fhqwhgads" instead or you're an insensitive swine?
You seem to be confusing deeming something offensive just for the sake of being difficult, and having a long history of negativity associated with a certain term which in my view is a good reason to make the request.

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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by ProfAllister » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:01 pm

BMFJack wrote:We've already seen it happen once with "dumb" and we tried changing terminology. It didn't work. So instead of repeating a failed solution, shouldn't there be an alternative? If not, in another 20-40 years "voice-off" will be deemed offensive and there will be a new term to replace it, something like "silence preferred" or "hands only", which will in turn become offensive eventually also.

Break the cycle.
A few thoughts:

1. "Dumb" and "mute" were both imposed on the Deaf; "voice off" was chosen by them. The Deaf never considered "dumb" or "mute" to be acceptable terms.

2. I have no idea where or how you people are doing your research. searching for "voice off" returned plenty of relevant results. Most dictionaries I could find noted that "Deaf-mute" is either archaic or offensive, and that "mute" is a discrete condition, characterized by an inability to vocalise.

3. While I generally agree with your sentiment, of all the hills to choose to die on, this is probably the worst. Your determination that this is a bridge too far seems predicated entirely on the fact that you just now learned that it is considered objectionable. It does not appear that you know or care when the Deaf first indicated that they considered it objectionable; only that you're sick of all this taking umbrage for "offensive terminology" now. This isn't a "microaggression" of teasing someone for pronouncing "wh-" sounds with an "hw-"; it's an expression, both real and symbolic, that you are better equipped to speak to the situation of an entire class of people, solely on the basis of your being born/remaining in the possession of a sensory faculty which they lack.

In other words, it's a bit of a dick move.
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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by brythain » Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:37 pm

BMFJack wrote:Break the cycle.
I don't think it's a cycle. It's a virtuous spiral. We refine our language until we get something that works.
This is the same process as in technology or in science — you learn from past experience and you adapt to present and future experiences.

Take that offensive 'n' term that was once used for people of darker skin. It stems from the Latin word for 'black', which is also the root for the 16th-century word 'denigrate'.
In other words, while it was once a literal term, it had become figurative 500 years ago to imply a defamatory status. We have found better terms based on ancestry, place of origin, etc. Of course it would be better to not have to use any such terms at all, since they don't speak to capability nor capacity in any conclusive way.

The difference with 'mute' is that it is a relatively common word which in some contexts has no denigratory meaning. That being the case, it's good to differentiate between its use in cases where it clarifies, where it is not denigratory, and where it is clearly offensive because a (possibly temporarily, but still) better term can be used but you're deliberately not using that better term. If you say someone suffers from selective mutism, that's longwinded; the normal and correct usage is then to say that such a person is 'selectively mute' (treated as a single term) because 'voice off' would be incorrect except where that person's current status is being described. You still have to be very careful about using the 'm' word around people who might be affected by it.

It's, in a way, better to police oneself contextually. In my job, I can't use f-bombs at all, and even milder terms are frowned upon. Does it mean I shouldn't refine my speech because my freedom to speak is being imposed upon? No, I think it's being contextually courteous, and if I didn't like it, I could always do something else for a living. The freedom to speak also comes with the freedom to refrain from speech, and sometimes I guess we need to be wiser with that choice.
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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by BMFJack » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:12 am

ProfAllister wrote:I have no idea where or how you people are doing your research. searching for "voice off" returned plenty of relevant results. Most dictionaries I could find noted that "Deaf-mute" is either archaic or offensive, and that "mute" is a discrete condition, characterized by an inability to vocalise.
I never claimed to have done research on "voice-off" but others did, so I assume you refer to them on that one. I speak only from my own personal experiences with deaf people and sign language. I was only able to find one definition of "mute" that deemed it offensive, and it was a tertiary definition. Can you link the place(s) where mute is defined strictly as the inability to speak? I can't seem to find that particular version of the definition.
ProfAllister wrote:Your determination that this is a bridge too far seems predicated entirely on the fact that you just now learned that it is considered objectionable.
This part, at least, is correct. I studied ASL for two years and interacted with hundreds of deaf people, and never once did they use the term "voice-off" The only person who did was my ASL instructor, who did not use it in the context which has been explained.
ProfAllister wrote:This isn't a "microaggression" of teasing someone for pronouncing "wh-" sounds with an "hw-"; it's an expression, both real and symbolic, that you are better equipped to speak to the situation of an entire class of people, solely on the basis of your being born/remaining in the possession of a sensory faculty which they lack.

In other words, it's a bit of a dick move.
I don't know exactly how you made this incredible leap in logic. It... kind of blows my mind. I'm not speaking to the situation of the class of people, I'm speaking to the terminology used. Every instance of mute I have ever had experience with has had absolutely zero negative connotations involved, even when dealing with the deaf community. My ASL instructor was deeply rooted in the deaf community and used the term herself to indicate whether or not someone would speak to you or sign to you.

Putting words in someones mouth, that's a dick move.

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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by Charmant » Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:31 am

I find a simple four-step process helps greatly in matters like this. If the definition of a term is not derogatory, check the context. If the context of a term is not derogatory, there is no offense. If someone continues to insist that something is offensive despite lacking any derogatory aspect, they are free to communicate with other people more befitting their excess sensitivities. Simple process, wastes no time, everyone wins.

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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by Atario » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:13 am

metalangel wrote:I didn’t really like the flippant and frankly ridiculous assertion that because your TV remote makes ‘muting’ the sound a choice, therefore the term ‘mute’ is correct, acceptable, and always denotes a choice.
If that were what I said, you might have a point.
Instead of saying "don't use Term X because it insults those poor, pitiable members of Group A", we should be saying "there's nothing wrong with being in Group A, so why would Term X be insulting?".
That is why in many cases, Group A seeks to ‘reclaim’ Term X and turn its meaning around. I think I said that already, too.
You did. However, you seem to be firmly in the "don't" camp.
Your perceptions and associations with the word differ from other people’s. Why can’t you accept that?
I can. And my perceptions and associations with the word are just as valid as anyone's. Why can't you accept that?
seems to have the basic message that anyone who finds something offensive is being a petulant child and should just stop complaining.
Being a petulant child is not the issue. The issue is attempting to police other people based on one's own unwitting enshrinement of slurs.
Adopting this as a general policy is the surest way I can think of to invest the maximum power possible into the loudest complainers.
There’s a delicious irony in that statement which lightens this mood here somewhat. For a brief moment, at least.
Thought you might like that. :mrgreen:
Back on point – what? You’re afraid of give an inch and they’ll take a foot, because they’d rather you didn’t use a certain term?
Not exactly, no. In that statement, I'm saying if society lets itself be ruled by whoever acts the most victimized, then society will end up a giant contest over who can portray themselves to be the biggest victims.

But in the more immediate picture, what I'm afraid of is that all they're accomplishing is giving people more power to insult them.
Ah, but you see, disabilities are an expressly allowed topic in all cases! We're immune! Immune, I say! [Thread immediately gets locked anyway]
I was almost right!
Why would you persist afterwards except to cause trouble?
So when he advocates for his viewpoint, it's just to cause trouble, but when you do, it's not?
ProfAllister wrote:In simplest terms, "mute" was chosen by hearies to describe deafies who don't speak
Er, is that true, strictly speaking? It's not like hearing people were sitting around one day and had a meeting to pick a word. From what I can tell, it's merely the current version of a term that goes back to Latin and ancient Greek and Sanskrit, just meaning, in various ways, "doesn't talk".
1. "Dumb" and "mute" were both imposed on the Deaf; "voice off" was chosen by them.
I'm not sure why this means anything. As I said in the original thread, none of us choose any the terms that describe us. We're born into them. Why should this one be any exception?
The Deaf never considered "dumb" or "mute" to be acceptable terms.
Never? Right back to antiquity? I find this very hard to believe.
NB: none of the above is a request

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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:11 am

Atario wrote:Never? Right back to antiquity? I find this very hard to believe.
FWIW, classical Greek uses several words implying a) without voice or breath, b) struck dumb, c) soundless, d) closed (mouth), e) speechless. Generally they're of the form a-(something) or kata-(something) meaning that there is, should be or was a capacity but it is lacking or has been suddenly removed.

I suspect the most neutral word you could use, historically speaking, would be 'voiceless' or 'unvoiced', the same term we use in phonetics or linguistics, except that we don't normally use it for this particular physical status in English.
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Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by Silentcook » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:33 pm

Trying to sort things out.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by HarvestmanMan » Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:57 pm

This thread is dumb. In the sense of being dumb and not mute or voice-off or vocally challenged or whatever.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by Steinherz » Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:33 pm

HarvestmanMan wrote:This thread is dumb. In the sense of being dumb and not mute or voice-off or vocally challenged or whatever.
*rimshot*
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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by metalangel » Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:08 pm

Atario wrote: If that were what I said, you might have a point.
You can explain what you meant, if you like.
You did. However, you seem to be firmly in the "don't" camp.
In this case, the word has not been reclaimed.
Your perceptions and associations with the word differ from other people’s. Why can’t you accept that?
I can. And my perceptions and associations with the word are just as valid as anyone's. Why can't you accept that?[/quote]

It goes both way. You're not accepting the point of view that it's offensive at all. There's got to be some give and take here, and you are continuing to argue against this despite being repeatedly told of the negative associations for a lot of people.
Being a petulant child is not the issue. The issue is attempting to police other people based on one's own unwitting enshrinement of slurs.
Should I just let you persist in your ignorance next time?
Not exactly, no. In that statement, I'm saying if society lets itself be ruled by whoever acts the most victimized, then society will end up a giant contest over who can portray themselves to be the biggest victims.

But in the more immediate picture, what I'm afraid of is that all they're accomplishing is giving people more power to insult them.
I can see that - the banning of nativity scenes at Christmas for fear of offending other religions being an example of going too far with this sort of fear of causing offense.
So when he advocates for his viewpoint, it's just to cause trouble, but when you do, it's not?
That's not the context of these comments. I was saying that if you said something offensive, you'd be told and why. That is where the 'persisting in using it afterwards just to cause trouble' thing comes from. Is being deliberately offensive when you know better a 'viewpoint'?

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Re: Adaptive technology

Post by Charmant » Sat Jan 10, 2015 6:27 pm

metalangel wrote:I was saying that if you said something offensive, you'd be told and why. That is where the 'persisting in using it afterwards just to cause trouble' thing comes from.
That's assuming the intent even is to cause trouble.

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

Post by metalangel » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:34 pm

Charmant wrote:
That's assuming the intent even is to cause trouble.
If you're asked to stop doing something and you keep doing it anyway, what other intention could you have?

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

Post by brythain » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:09 pm

metalangel wrote:
Charmant wrote: That's assuming the intent even is to cause trouble.
If you're asked to stop doing something and you keep doing it anyway, what other intention could you have?
Proceeding without stopping?
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