Dictionary.com, one of the largest online language platforms, allegedly plans to stop using the word ‘slave’.
Yahoo Life reported that the platform intends to replace the word in the light of inclusive trends of modern society.
The ‘slave’ was characterized by the dictionary management as ‘dehumanizing’ to the people it denotes.
Instead, the dictionary plans to use its variations such as the word ‘enslaved’ and the word ‘slavery’, which captures the institution abolished in the U.S. a long time ago.
The upcoming change has already been reflected in some articles on the website. Thus, the entry on Harriet Tubman no longer describes ‘an abolitionist and an escaped slave who led the Underground Railroad’, but a person who, among other things, escaped ‘slavery’.
Other entries changed due to the elimination of the ‘slave’ word involve ‘master’, ‘mistress’, ‘plantation’, and ‘Juneteenth’.
Dictionary.com managing director John Kelly told Yahoo Life that the dictionary modifications are intended to account for the influence language might have on society and show respect and dignity toward ‘enslaved’ people.
He emphasized that the way words are used might affect the world, adding that the word ‘slave’ does not adequately represent a person’s agency and fails in accentuating enslavers’ responsibility.
Kelly concluded that the dictionary is ready to resist any backlash to advance its goal of ‘putting people first’.
One among many others
The elimination of the word ‘slave’ is seemingly just one among many other revisions Dictionary.com plans to make.
The online platform reportedly intends to make around 7,600 updates, many of which would concern the addition of notions related to the issues of identity and social justice.
Some relevant additions already made include the words ‘BIPOC’, which refers to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as ‘Critical Race Theory’, ‘disenfranchisement’, ‘racialization’, and ‘overpolice’.
The dictionary also added the capitalizations of the words ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Black’, along with some changes related to the notions referring to LGBTQ and mental health.
Interestingly, not all modifications are related to identity issues.
Several additions refer to the COVID-19 pandemic (such as ‘flatten the curve’, ‘superspreader’, and ‘telework’), and others, such as the addition of ‘Goldendoodle’ to denote the crossbreed of a Golden Retriever and a Poodle, are not related to any common issue.