Press "Enter" to skip to content

USA Today warns against using ‘culturally sensitive words’ like aloha, hola, shalom

USA Today published an article Friday wondering, “Is it time to stop saying ‘aloha’ and other culturally sensitive words out of context?” 

Written by David Oliver, an entertainment, lifestyle and wellness reporter who writes about diversity and inclusion, the article argues that the use of words like “aloha,” “hola,” and “shalom” could be harmful to people of other cultures. 

“[J]ust because you can say something doesn’t mean it’s always appropriate,” Oliver warned, writing, “If you’re not Hawaiian and you say [aloha], it could come off as mockery.”

“The use of certain words requires education, knowledge and the foresight to understand when they should – or shouldn’t – come out of your mouth,” he continued.

GOV. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS BANS ‘LATINX’ FROM ARKANSAS GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS

“Of course, not all uses of language outside someone’s culture are problematic,” he conceded.

“Intention matters most. Dropping ‘hola’ or ‘shalom’ to someone you know who speaks Spanish or Hebrew, for example, isn’t something to worry about. Actively don a fake, exaggerated accent and say those words? Therein lies the problem,” he continued.

He wrote that saying “ni hao,” a Mandarin greeting, to an Asian-American who is not Chinese “could be both othering and a microaggression.”

RUSSIAN-BRITISH COMEDIAN MOCKS WOKENESS IN OXFORD UNION SPEECH: ‘TRAINED YOUNG MINDS TO FORGET’

“What we need is a critical consciousness in our public around language,” Jeffrey McCune, director of the Frederick Douglass Institute of African & African-American Studies at the University of Rochester told Oliver. “Language is too critical to our culture, that we can’t just casually use language in ways that might offend and/or even harm, do harm to certain groups of people.”

McCune continued, “We have a responsibility to be somewhat judicious with our language, and to have care for what we do with language.” 

“It’s the larger cultural considerations around the use of these words that matter most,” Oliver wrote.

“Everyone needs context before speaking another culture’s language besides their own,” he concluded.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x