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Monday, November 26, 2012

AP updates styles for ethnic cleansing, Indians, man-made, phobia, other terms

I subscribe to the online version of the Associated Press Stylebook and got an email today announcing some recent changes and new entries.

One of the entries is ethnic cleansing. AP says:
Euphemism for a campaign to force a population from a region by expulsions and other violence often including killings and rapes. The term came to prominence in former Yugoslavia during the 1990s to whitewash atrocities of warring ethnic groups, then usage spread to other conflicts. AP does not use "ethnic cleansing" on its own. It must be enclosed in quotes, attributed and explained. ...
My online editorial style manual notes that ethnic cleansing and genocide are sometimes confused.
The broader term, ethnic cleansing is a euphemism for a campaign to force an unwanted ethnic or religious group from a region by expulsions, forced migration, intimidation or other violence, often including rapes or killings (genocide). ... Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, religious, political, or cultural group.
 The AP manual also has a revised entry for Indians:
American Indian or Native American is acceptable for those in the U.S. Follow the person's preference. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe: He is a Navajo commissioner. In stories about American Indians, such words as wampum, warpath, powwow, teepee, brave, squaw, etc., can be disparaging and offensive. In Alaska, the indigenous groups include Aleuts, Eskimos and Indians, collectively known as Alaska Natives.
My online style manual--under the American Indian, Eskimo entry--provides similar advice but includes other suggestions:
American Indian and Native American are synonymous. Preferences differ among indigenous people in the United States and Western Hemisphere. When in doubt about how to refer to a person's race or cultural or ethnic identity, ask the person in question what is preferred. But beware that Indians also refers to people who live in India. 
When possible, use national (or tribal) affiliation rather than generic American Indian or Native AmericanNavajo, Hopi, MuckleshootFor Eskimos and Aleuts in Alaska, Alaska Native is preferred to American Indian. Don't use such disparaging words as wampum, warpath, powwow and squaw
To specify someone was born in the United States but isn't Native American, use native-born. Lowercase native when it stands alone. 
The AP guide also lists, simply: man-made. I assume AP is noting that the word includes a hyphen. My style manual includes the hyphenated form, but it adds this advice:
Outdated term. Use artificial, handmade, synthetic or manufactured instead.
AP also added phobia, with this advice:
An irrational, uncontrollable fear, often a form of mental illness. Examples: acrophobia, a fear of heights, and claustrophobia, a fear of being in small, enclosed spaces. Do not use in political or social contexts: homophobia, Islamophobia.
My style guide doesn't have a similar entry. AP apparently thinks adding phobia to politically charged words shows bias. I'm still thinking about that. Using the shorthand references to homophobiaIslamophobia and similar terms is a quick way to name an irrational "fear." But doing that also simplifies, perhaps too much, various complex attitudes.  

AP also added froufrou (with a definition),  landline (one word, no hyphen), mahjong (preferred spelling, with no hyphen), and wildfires (with advice on describing the size of fires).

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