A second way in which language can offend is through words that have a derogatory or negative connotation. This is especially true with words that have historical significance in past injustices. The “N” word for African Americans is an example of this type of speech. Many believe that any person who would use such language must be a racist. When one considers all the derogatory terms that have been used in the past, untangling these etymologies appears to require an advanced degree. Some innocently use a word they have heard from popular culture only to find that they have committed an unintended offense.
The progression of culture can be partly to blame for this phenomenon. What was once acceptable has now evolved over time into something negative. One clear and recent controversy over this issue is the name of the NFL team in our nation’s capital, the Washington Redskins. Not only has Congress written a letter to the team owner asking for a name change, but the US Patent office has also revoked its trademark for the team mascot.
Listen in to part of one debate and decide for yourself.