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

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jan 15, 2015 5:06 am

My point about 'why can't I when there are equal alternatives' is that if they are truly equal, then you do indeed have a choice. So that choice becomes, "Of two equal alternatives, do I use the one that offends you or the one that doesn't?" This is a choice of civilised societies: given two equal alternatives, why should I NOT use the one that fails to offend? There may be good reasons, and I accept that.
I think you're missing the point of this discussion...
Of course you should not try to offend if you have an equally valid choice of word.
The point most people here are trying to make is that "mute" is not considered offensive by the vast majority of the English speaking populace. There is only one person here who professes to be offended by it, and there's not even much to be found on the internet about the term being considered offensive.
Even then one might consider using the alternative if it is equally valid. "Voice-off" is not. Hardly anyone here had ever heard the term before, and given that readers of this forum are likely to be more knowledgeable about disabilities and associated trivia than the average I feel confident to assert that probably more than 99% of English speakers don't know the term, and a lot of them would not intuitively connect it with mutism - selective or otherwise.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:18 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:The point most people here are trying to make is that "mute" is not considered offensive by the vast majority of the English speaking populace.
Or even by the group that is claimed to be offended by it. I'm not the only person who has had personal experiences with the deaf community, and none of our collective experiences indicated in any way that "mute" is considered offensive by the deaf community.

The only circumstances under which I could find any reference to the term "mute" being offensive were the hyphenation "Deaf-mute" and the noun version of "mute" for example; "Shizune is a mute."

Other than that, everything I can find and all personal experiences shared contend that it's not inherently an offensive term.

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

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:00 am

I would just say that whether a majority feels it is offensive, non-offensive, or whatever, I would not make claims of a term being inherently offensive etc.

I would only say that if X prefers not be called Y, no matter how accurate Y is, then if we can avoid it, don't call X Y. But you can do it to everyone else who is not offended, clearly.

If you persist in calling X Y when X does not want to be called Y, how is that different from bullying, assuming that Y is not inherently a better term by far than any other term?
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:20 am

Because I've never met X. If I met mysterious, elusive X and discovered their dislike for the term "mute", I wouldn't call X by that term.

It's basically my contention that X doesn't exist realistically. Of course there's bound to be someone who's offended by the term "mute", but I'd still say they're incorrect in being offended by something that isn't offensive - even by the standards of their peers. Doesn't mean I'd keep being an asshole and calling them by a term they'd prefer I didn't use.

A term is inherently offensive when the offense is obvious or always-on. Telling someone they're stupid or referring to someone as stupid is inherently offensive, referring to someone as mute is an accurate descriptor. Calling someone a mute would be offensive, though. It really depends on how you use the term.

I can't agree more with the sentiment that intent should be gauged before offense is taken; if I did meet the elusive X and referred to them as being mute without knowing that X was offended by the term, I'd be really angry if they went off on me for using it. Especially me personally, since I've met and interacted with hundreds (if not thousands) of deaf people and never once been told not to say "mute" or that the term "voice-off" was more accurate, politically correct, etc.

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

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:47 am

BMFJack wrote:Because I've never met X. If I met mysterious, elusive X and discovered their dislike for the term "mute", I wouldn't call X by that term.

It's basically my contention that X doesn't exist realistically. Of course there's bound to be someone who's offended by the term "mute", but I'd still say they're incorrect in being offended by something that isn't offensive - even by the standards of their peers. Doesn't mean I'd keep being an asshole and calling them by a term they'd prefer I didn't use.

A term is inherently offensive when the offense is obvious or always-on. Telling someone they're stupid or referring to someone as stupid is inherently offensive, referring to someone as mute is an accurate descriptor. Calling someone a mute would be offensive, though. It really depends on how you use the term.

I can't agree more with the sentiment that intent should be gauged before offense is taken; if I did meet the elusive X and referred to them as being mute without knowing that X was offended by the term, I'd be really angry if they went off on me for using it. Especially me personally, since I've met and interacted with hundreds (if not thousands) of deaf people and never once been told not to say "mute" or that the term "voice-off" was more accurate, politically correct, etc.
But you have met X, in these very forums. More important, the defence of accuracy when you call someone 'stupid' and it happens to be true, also implies that they shouldn't be offended if they are stupid, and thus that 'stupid' as an accurate descriptor is not offensive (or shouldn't be). Also, are you really saying that if a person is offended by a term that everyone agrees ought to be inoffensive, that they are incorrect in being offended? For example, if you call someone a dickhead and he doesn't like it, but everyone agrees that's a friendly term in your group and he shouldn't take offence? I know groups like that, and I'm guessing you might too.

Out of curiosity (really), having met and interacted with all those deaf people, have you actually used the word 'mute' (or signed it as a descriptor of their condition) and in what context? I'm sure that they can't really hear you say "mute", but I could be wrong.

All that said, I'm glad you're not the kind of asshole who would use a term (correctly or incorrectly) on someone who'd told you not to use it on them.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by SpunkySix » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:50 pm

brythain wrote:
SpunkySix wrote:You have every freedom to take offense to something and see it as an insult if you want, but that doesn't change the fact that it isn't actually an insult and you're basically warping reality to fit what you want to see instead of seeing what's actually there.

It just seems to me like people go out of their way to take be offended by things.
I'd say that insults are determined by social context. It's human society that determines if a term is pejorative or not, and we have thousands of years of history to support that position.
I can grant this. That being said, something like this is so vague that we're going on six pages where nobody actually knows which word is supposed to be the insult in context. That should say something about how little context there is to support either being an insult.

Even with the example of African Americans, when you get somebody who IS African AND American, the word changes for what you're "supposed" to use all the time to be "politically correct". Black, colored, African American, person of African descent... it gets ridiculous, and it's not consistent. There'll probably be a new term in a year or two. Where there's no obvious consensus it's just confusing for the person trying to refer to somebody else, and I think the people being referred to can have the maturity to understand that and accept that they aren't being attacked*.

And then it gets worse when individuals from the same group can't even agree on what they want to be called. My best friend is transexual, and he refers to trans people in fiction as traps all the time, so much so that I was shocked to learn that it was technically a slur. If it's different from person to person and there's no consensus, then what am I supposed to do, spin the wheel in my head and hope I get lucky? I shouldn't have to ask every person beforehand what they want to be called, because that's awkward too*. "Like... hey, I noticed you're different. Let me highlight how different you are so that I can put you in your own special terminology group because you're different. Oh, but we're equals and it doesn't matter to me, I just wanted to make sure I called your kind the right thing." Doesn't that seem worse than just using a word without mal intent?

*Now, I could understand if a person specifically requested before or after the fact not to be called that- at that point though, that's a personal request, and there's a difference between that and taking something like an insult. I can be understanding if you are too. I can't work with you though if you get offended whenever somebody isn't perfectly PC about something that's horribly unclear to begin with.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:12 pm

Calling someone a mute would be offensive, though. It really depends on how you use the term.
Even there the offense is probably not because of the "mute" part. Calling a person a anything is mostly considered rude, because it reduces a person to one singular trait, while using an adjective is simply assigning one trait without rejecting any others.
More important, the defence of accuracy when you call someone 'stupid' and it happens to be true, also implies that they shouldn't be offended if they are stupid, and thus that 'stupid' as an accurate descriptor is not offensive (or shouldn't be). Also, are you really saying that if a person is offended by a term that everyone agrees ought to be inoffensive, that they are incorrect in being offended? For example, if you call someone a dickhead and he doesn't like it, but everyone agrees that's a friendly term in your group and he shouldn't take offence? I know groups like that, and I'm guessing you might too.
Stupid and dickhead are both negative traits, so these examples do not fit this discussion.
Also, like I said before, what you refer to here as "your group" is the vast majority of the English speaking population. I don't think anyone here would sit down with his three best buddies and decide that the word "nigger" is inoffensive.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:47 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Stupid and dickhead are both negative traits, so these examples do not fit this discussion.
Also, like I said before, what you refer to here as "your group" is the vast majority of the English speaking population. I don't think anyone here would sit down with his three best buddies and decide that the word "nigger" is inoffensive.
Clearly 'nigger' is not a negative trait and 'mute' is, in terms of what they mean: 'nigger' from 'nigra' = 'black' (i.e. positively coloured) and 'mute' = 'without sound' (etc) (i.e. negative in some sense related to noise making). The argument from majority doesn't necessarily hold water — if the vast majority is ignorant, it doesn't make them right. So go back to the logic and tell me why, if we have two terms to apply to a small population that prefers one of them, we are arguing why we can't just use the term we like and not what they like?

In the end, it boils down to you attempting a rational but not a logical argument. Your reason is that the majority doesn't mind, so it's right. Correct?

Edit: There's a clearly documented case where 'nigger' is supposedly not offensive—if the people involved are members of that population, they can call each other that and it's (possibly) non-offensive. So what you might be thinking is that nobody here is a member of that group, and that his three best buddies aren't either. However, see [this] and the attached comments for the possible caveats involved. They mirror the discussion we've been having.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:29 pm

Clearly 'nigger' is not a negative trait and 'mute' is, in terms of what they mean: 'nigger' from 'nigra' = 'black' (i.e. positively coloured) and 'mute' = 'without sound' (etc) (i.e. negative in some sense related to noise making)
If this were from someone else I would think they were trolling and ignore them^^°
Instead I will instead assume that you really misinterpreted what I wrote.
I never said "nigger" was a negative trait. (It's not really a trait at all, but then neither is "dickhead" so maybe I was unclear...)
I said it was an offensive word to most people, and I don't think you will argue that.
I have no idea what you're trying to say by "positively coloured"

Being stupid is a negative trait and being dickheaded is as well. Being mute is not a negative trait. I won't argue that it can't be in some circumstances (e.g. if you're staying silent to protect a criminal to give an extreme example), but it isn't so inherently. For another example, if you're in a library being mute is considered something positive.
The argument from majority doesn't necessarily hold water — if the vast majority is ignorant, it doesn't make them right. So go back to the logic and tell me why, if we have two terms to apply to a small population that prefers one of them, we are arguing why we can't just use the term we like and not what they like?
Because that's how language works. A word means what the majority of people think it means. That's why dictionaries have to be updated now and again.
Some decades ago, "negro" was considered to be a (more) polite alternative to "coloured". Then more and more people started to use it in a condescending way until it came to be considered offensive.
In the case of "mute" none of the publishers of dictionaries have seen the need to update the meaning, and none but very few people seem to even be aware that there is supposed to be one.
To me to agree that "mute" is a negative trait is akin to say that being mute is really something to be ashamed of. If "mute" really does become an offensive word someday, and people start to use it as an insult (because they've been taught that it is something negative) is that really something that people who are mute want?
Several people - even those who have had dealings with mute people - have contributed to this discussion, and all but one of them seem to be fine with the word, so clearly it has no negative conotations - yet.

Let's keep it that way.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:16 pm

Hmm, Mirage_GSM, I think I wasn't particularly clear myself. Let me first apologise for that.

1. 'Nigger' has been an offensive term in most arenas since last century. As a word, it doesn't describe a deficiency, but has negative connotations historically.
2. 'Mute' has been a basic term used to describe a negative status (i.e., lacking in speech), although not necessarily with negative connotations.

My position (I won't call it an argument) is that dictionaries lag usage. I agree with you that we should try not to use words as if they have negative connotations (i.e., pejoratively) and thus render them unfit or uncomfortable for normal everyday use. This happened for a while with 'gay', and I know of people with that surname who were most unhappy.

The initial 'debate' was sparked off by metalangel, who asserted that to the Deaf (capitalised, a subset of deaf people who share a common culture and use ASL, and apparently also BSL), 'mute' was a generally offensive term. Notguest found that the suggested alternative in that context was 'voice-off', but only within that explicit group of ASL users identifying as Deaf.

From my idea of a rational perspective, the reasonable approach is that if a group doesn't want to have a certain word applied to them, then one asks, "So, what term do you prefer?" and then uses their term when addressing them. This may not reach lexical standards, but it serves social purposes. I will continue to use 'mute' when not addressing that particular group because it's not offensive to those outside that group. This is not the case now with 'nigger', which is now considered insulting or to have negative connotation, whenever/wherever I use it, by many people. I don't use that word in everyday speech.

The point about whether words mean what a majority of people think they mean, and the role of dictionaries, is a separate though related point.

1. In many cases, a majority of people don't know what some words mean. So they look at a dictionary.
2. A dictionary contains the meaning of the word as used by people who -do- know what the word means.
3. A dictionary sometimes contains the meaning of the word as used differently by people.
4. If a 'wrong' meaning is used often enough by people, then a dictionary may then record that 'wrong' meaning as a 'right' meaning.
5. This is how language evolves, true. But there are large grey periods in which a meaning can mean both one thing and its opposite or complement, or something different.
6. This is why an online 'urban dictionary', or the 'lingo' used by schoolchildren, often provide alternative non-dictionary meanings that can be pejorative etc.

In a speaking, writing world, where the majority do speak and write, to be silent or incapable of speech, or to be illiterate or dyslexic, are often seen as things to be ashamed of. Indeed, when we say things like, "Congressman X was mute on this point," we make it seem as if X had something to hide or wasn't informed or intelligent enough to say something. Similarly, the perfectly good term 'illiterate' (alt, 'unlettered') can be used pejoratively. Hence I see 'mute' as already having a degree of negative connotation, relative to an adjective like 'tall'.

A test I use is this: Can I go up to a person and say, "Are you (descriptor)?" without making that person feel that I am implying a negative? So if I went up to a person and said "Are you tall?", "Are you purple?", "Are you mute?", "Are you deaf?", "Are you fat?" etc, and thought of how they'd feel being asked that, I'd get a good feel for whether a term had negative connotation in my environment. "Are you diabetic?" and "Are you crippled?" clearly carry a different burden.

So that's (I think) my opinion on terminology. I don't think 'mute' -ought- to be negative by connotation, but I feel that it already does carry a shade of that burden. It already denotes a lack of something most people possess, for whatever reason, so it is already a negative trait. It shouldn't be used pejoratively—insult is different from just stating a negative. The difference is bare description of a physical feature vs association with other traits. That was the fate of 'dumb'.
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by BMFJack » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:37 pm

brythain wrote:But you have met X, in these very forums.
Maybe I should have been more clear. In my mind, X is someone whom "mute" applies to. I very seriously doubt that applies to anyone involved in this discussion.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
More important, the defence of accuracy when you call someone 'stupid' and it happens to be true, also implies that they shouldn't be offended if they are stupid, and thus that 'stupid' as an accurate descriptor is not offensive (or shouldn't be). Also, are you really saying that if a person is offended by a term that everyone agrees ought to be inoffensive, that they are incorrect in being offended? For example, if you call someone a dickhead and he doesn't like it, but everyone agrees that's a friendly term in your group and he shouldn't take offence? I know groups like that, and I'm guessing you might too.
Stupid and dickhead are both negative traits, so these examples do not fit this discussion.
This is what I meant by something that's inherently offensive, though I probably should have said negative connotations to be more clear.
brythain wrote:Clearly 'nigger' is not a negative trait and 'mute' is, in terms of what they mean
This is where the problem begins. I think you're wrong on two counts here. "Mute" is not a negative trait, and it wouldn't be even given the various definitions. I think (and correct me if I'm wrong) that you're assuming that not talking is a bad thing. Whether not talking by choice or by lack of ability, I don't think of not speaking as a bad thing. Maybe that's the distinction? Kind of why I agreed with Mirage on gauging intent...
brythain wrote:So go back to the logic and tell me why, if we have two terms to apply to a small population that prefers one of them, we are arguing why we can't just use the term we like and not what they like?
Because we have yet to find someone whom the term applies to who also takes offense to the term. Only one person has professed that the term is offensive, and I don't think the term applies to that person. (Or at least it should have been brought up a long time ago if it did) I think part of the problem on this one is that you're automatically believing one person, and automatically disbelieving others. I could be wrong about that though, so feel free to clarify.
brythain wrote:There's a clearly documented case where 'nigger' is supposedly not offensive—if the people involved are members of that population, they can call each other that and it's (possibly) non-offensive.
This isn't quite accurate, because in the attempt to reclaim the offensive term they modified the term. I know we've all heard about the "ER/AH" difference. I know of no way to say "nigger" and not be offensive, however I hear "niggah" all the time and it's rarely considered offensive.
brythain wrote:'Mute' has been a basic term used to describe a negative status (i.e., lacking in speech), although not necessarily with negative connotations.
I don't think that's how it works. Just because a word describes a lack of something doesn't make the word negative. Mirage has explained this over and over.
brythain wrote:The initial 'debate' was sparked off by metalangel, who asserted that to the Deaf (capitalised, a subset of deaf people who share a common culture and use ASL, and apparently also BSL), 'mute' was a generally offensive term. Notguest found that the suggested alternative in that context was 'voice-off', but only within that explicit group of ASL users identifying as Deaf.
Honestly I think it's offensive to only consider those who use a certain dialect or version of sign language deaf. A person who cannot hear is deaf, regardless of whether or not they use ASL, BSL, JSL, CSL, or any other variation thereupon.
brythain wrote:From my idea of a rational perspective, the reasonable approach is that if a group doesn't want to have a certain word applied to them, then one asks, "So, what term do you prefer?" and then uses their term when addressing them.
And with the exception of a few, we've pretty much agreed that this is how it would work, if we could find someone whom the term applied to and who was actually offended by the term.
brythain wrote:In a speaking, writing world, where the majority do speak and write, to be silent or incapable of speech, or to be illiterate or dyslexic, are often seen as things to be ashamed of.
We come from very different places, I guess. One of my childhood friends is dyslexic, and I've never thought of it as a negative thing. To me this would be like saying that since I'm not very good at baseball, that's a negative thing. I just don't understand that line of thinking.

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

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:10 pm

BMFJack wrote:
brythain wrote:In a speaking, writing world, where the majority do speak and write, to be silent or incapable of speech, or to be illiterate or dyslexic, are often seen as things to be ashamed of.
We come from very different places, I guess. One of my childhood friends is dyslexic, and I've never thought of it as a negative thing. To me this would be like saying that since I'm not very good at baseball, that's a negative thing. I just don't understand that line of thinking.
In my profession, working with speech therapists and educational psychologists, it's clearly seen as a difficulty when attempting certain common tasks. Lack of baseball skill is not seen as that important a problem in the general population; lack of word-handling skill is. I deal with dyslexics every day, and it is a difficulty relative to the majority who aren't obviously so. If you had to choose between lacking baseball ability or lacking reading/writing ability, which would you prefer? The parents who come to see me would all rather not have their kids be dyslexic. That some of them choose to be positive in reacting to that is great, and I wish more were so.

Clearly 'negative', in the sense which I'm using it (and most people do, if you think about it) implies 'below average' on a + / 0 / - (or any scale where you set the 0 to connote the average or normal). Hence 'mute' is seen as a negative trait, as opposed to 'talkative'; however 'talkative' may have negative connotations in situations where one isn't supposed to be. Mirage_GSM said that 'mute' in a library may be seen as positive—I don't see it as relevant because in libraries (and at tennis competitions) you are told 'Silence Please', not 'Muteness Please'. People are encouraged to 'speak up', and telling someone to 'be quiet' is more often seen as negative.

Finally, just because you have never thought of it as a negative 'thing' doesn't mean it isn't. I don't think of being (for example) East or South Asian as a negative 'thing', but I've encountered situations where if you were Asian, it would not be a positive; I've even encountered situations where being differently Asian would do that.

Lexical note: if a word means the absence of something, or begins with a modifier like 'dys-', it is obviously a negative. Whether that negative connotes that the person is 'worse' is up to us, the social connotation bit. So 'mute' is a negative term; it is negative relative even to 'noiseless' or 'silent' because it often implies greater incapacity relative to those two words. So I'm differentiating between what a word means (definition), and what someone means by it (usage).
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Re: Terminology debate - "mute" versus "voice-off"

Post by metalangel » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:31 pm

BMFJack wrote:
Because of these two ridiculous quotes, I'm completely done with this. I get the feeling you're one of those "I'm right no matter how much facts and evidence you point at me, because my word is better than those facts and evidence."
I provided a lot of facts and evidence. I wouldn't have made the original assertion unless I could back it up, because I know how anecdotal evidence is accepted in debates here (it isn't). Look at the second and third pages of this thread. I've found more sites since that also agree it's considered offensive. Here's one I still have open in another tab if you're interested:

http://www.fccdhh.org/services/basic-fa ... myths.html
BMFJack wrote:I admit I got pretty irritated with you, metalangel, but only because you were acting as if you had already explained to us simpletons that it was offensive and that was the end of the discussion; that we were being antagonistic by trying to discover why it was offensive in the form of a debate - we were giving you a lot of facts and evidence that reinforced our idea that it was not offensive, while your sole rebuttal (over and over again, I might add) was "I have already told you it's offensive, so just stop saying it." However, besides one completely inaccurate quote, you completely failed to give any kind of reason why we should stop using it. ('Because I said so' isn't a valid reason.)
It wasn't the intention to irritate people, I saw you all unable to agree on what kind of muteness she had and thought I'd say it's not even the right term in her case, here's why and here's an alternative. I don't know why you guys don't seem to have seen the quotes I posted from terminology sites on the CAD and WFD sites earlier but they are there. It's a real shame this whole thing has gotten out of hand like it has.
Atario wrote: All told, it's kinda beyond me why you keep insisting that "mute" can only mean physical incapacity to talk.
It's kinda beyond me why you even made the remote control analogy in the first place - it struck me as so strange and dismissive it could only have negative intent behind it. That's why I asked if it was a serious comment because I couldn't believe someone would make it. It's like, so far removed from the context of the discussion, what's up with that?
Not seeing where anyone said that, either. Getting to be a pattern…
The likes of me can't go telling you it's actually there, I'm probably making that up too!
I hardly need people in my life who go around searching for innocuous things to be offended about and telling me how I'm allowed to talk.
You certainly get an A in assertiveness. Nobody tells you what to do.
Or, hey, just snort at me more, that works, right?
Is there much point doing anything else at this stage? It feels like that part in Private Ryan where they're out of ammo and throwing their helmets at each other.
Your own attempts are all rooted in insisting that there can be no other kind of muteness besides physical incapability, and despite your flailing, we can all plainly see that voluntary muteness is still muteness.
Is that a 'technically correct is the best type of correct' situation? Or you justifying your lack of respect for anyone but yourself and how your words and actions might make them feel? You might not agree or understand why it's offensive to them, so that's carte blanche to tell them where to go?

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

Post by Atario » Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:28 am

brythain wrote:I mean, if you call me an African-American and I complain that I am zero per cent African and that term is insulting to me, then the logical thing to ask is, "So, what do you want me to call you, then?"
Off-topic, but: are you even American? :lol: (Also, if you trace back far enough, we're all "African"…)
metalangel wrote:I provided a lot of facts and evidence.
The only facts you've given are that certain organizations will tell you certain things about the word. If you accept the overarching authority of those organizations over language, then this means something. If not, then not.
I don't know why you guys don't seem to have seen the quotes I posted from terminology sites
Well, let's look at the one you just posted (I think it's a copy/paste of one of the earlier ones) and maybe we'll see what the problem is.
The FCCDHH wrote:Deaf-Mute -- Another offensive term from the 18th-19th century, "mute" also means silent and without voice. This label is technically inaccurate, since deaf and hard of hearing people generally have functioning vocal chords. The problem lies with the fact that to successfully modulate your voice, you need to be able to hear your own voice. Again, because deaf and hard of hearing people use various methods of communication other than using their voices, they are not truly mute. True communication occurs when one's message is understood by others, and they can respond in kind.
What have they stated here?
  • "Deaf-Mute": Well, we're off to a rocky start, since the term being debated is just plain "mute", not "deaf-mute". But let's soldier on.
  • "offensive term": An assertion that it's offensive. Why? We can only surmise the following sentences are intended to explain. So:
  • "'mute' also means silent and without voice." Ok, well, that doesn't sound as though it's insulting. They're just explaining what it means. Let's keep going.
  • "This label is technically inaccurate, since deaf and hard of hearing people generally have functioning vocal chords." Wait. What? "Silent and without voice" doesn't mean "no functioning vocal cords". If I just up and decide never to talk again one day, I am indeed "silent and without voice". Not to mention that a lot of other things can be wrong besides vocal cords to induce incapability to speak. And anyway, there are in fact going to be some deaf people who do have a physical incapability of some kind preventing speech. So the label — even if this baseless dismissal of voluntary muteness were adhered to — wouldn't be inaccurate when applied to them. Therefore not offensive? Well, apparently not, since they just blanket-forbade it. Ok, what else?
  • "to successfully modulate your voice, you need to be able to hear your own voice." Well, that's just factually wrong. Ask any of the deaf people out there who do in fact successfully modulate their voices every day. They'll tell you. By talking.
  • "because deaf and hard of hearing people use various methods of communication other than using their voices, they are not truly mute": Moving the goalposts here, aren't we? They just finished establishing that "mute" means "silent and without voice". But now we're going shift to different, metaphorical senses of the words "voice" and "mute"?
It's quite a mess. In the end, the only actual point I can see here for offensiveness is using the term where it doesn't apply. But they manage to undercut that message by applying incorrect assertions on their own, and ignoring use where it does apply. So, hrm. At any rate, nothing here is close to demonstrating that the term is inherently wrong. Furthermore, if we go ahead and let the term turn into a pure slur by forbidding anyone from using it, we (1) grant absolute insulting power where there was less or none and (2) invite the exact same process to happen with whatever replacement term is chosen ("'Voice off'? I'm not 'voice off', I didn't choose not to speak! How dare you! That's it, no one gets to use the term 'voice off' ever again!").
metalangel wrote:
Atario wrote: All told, it's kinda beyond me why you keep insisting that "mute" can only mean physical incapacity to talk.
It's kinda beyond me why you even made the remote control analogy in the first place
Changing the subject instead of answering? Bold move, Cotton.

It wasn't an analogy. The topic was what associations people had in their minds with the word. To you, apparently, seeing that button on your TV remote labeled "MUTE" must send you into a scarlet rage, since the manufacturer must be mocking the deaf by their blatant use of a pure slur word. To the rest of us, it's an ordinary, useful word 100-minus-epsilon percent of the times we've ever seen it in our lives, and can therefore not imagine why it should turn into a slur.
I hardly need people in my life who go around searching for innocuous things to be offended about and telling me how I'm allowed to talk.
You certainly get an A in assertiveness. Nobody tells you what to do.
You don't seem terribly inclined otherwise, yourself. Except when a certain magic word is invoked, then it's Katie bar the door.
Or, hey, just snort at me more, that works, right?
Is there much point doing anything else at this stage?
Probably not, being that you've decided you're above reconsidering the basis of anything you're asserting.
Your own attempts are all rooted in insisting that there can be no other kind of muteness besides physical incapability, and despite your flailing, we can all plainly see that voluntary muteness is still muteness.
Is that a 'technically correct is the best type of correct' situation?
Well, since you seem impervious to factual correctness, let's try the political approach you seem to credit so much.

How do you think your insistent segregation of involuntary muteness, like it's some kind of filth, makes people feel who are in fact physically incapable of speech? Apparently they're so vile to you that you'll go to the trouble of reshaping the whole world's very use of language to back it up. Why do you hate them so much?
You might not agree or understand why it's offensive to them, so that's carte blanche to tell them where to go?
Hey, if they're dead-set on creating and popularizing a powerful slur against themselves, I'm in no position to stop them. But I can certainly sit here and shake my head at how ass-backward it is.
NB: none of the above is a request

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

Post by brythain » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:12 am

Atario wrote:
brythain wrote:I mean, if you call me an African-American and I complain that I am zero per cent African and that term is insulting to me, then the logical thing to ask is, "So, what do you want me to call you, then?"
Off-topic, but: are you even American? :lol: (Also, if you trace back far enough, we're all "African"…)
Heh heh, let me amend that to 'extremely difficult to detect as African without advanced genomics'. But don't you think the 'what would you like to be known as' idea is useful? It is more useful than 'let me call you this even if you don't like it because if you were rational you wouldn't mind'. Humans being what they are, my professional life has been made far easier by using the former over the latter.
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