Language and Attitudes. According to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, we think through language. The words we use to talk about the world reinforce our attitudes and, occasionally, our prejudices. Changing our language to eliminate offensive language, many argue, may change our attitudes as well. At the very least, becoming aware of the biases in language practices may make us more sensitive to the feelings of those who are the targets of these biases. Thus, we try our best to avoid sexist and racist language by substituting new, more “politically correct” usage. Do you think that language affects thought and behavior? Does changing our language make a significant change in the way we think and behave? Have some efforts to be more politically sensitive gone too far? We say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Can words hurt?
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