Friday, July 06, 2007
BBC website uses the word 'chink' on its front page
Classic bbc (British-born Chinese) uncomfortable moment.
I don't know about you but when I see the word chink used in this way, my reaction is anger, followed by a self-censoring 'don't make a big deal out of it', followed by 'why the hell do they still do that?'
I have never understood why, in this day and age, the word 'chink' is so freely used. Yes, the word has two meanings. It has a legitimate meaning as a noun, and it is also a racial slur.
But unlike other words which are both nouns and racial slurs such as 'spade' or 'frog' (boy, the English really do excel at racial insults), the noun chink is pretty much used exclusively in a metaphorical sense where a variety of other words could easily be used in its place. It is not what I would call a 'real world', must-be-used-to-be-understood kind of word.
There's just no need for it and if you know that using that word will offend a particular ethnic group, why not just swap it for another? It's not that hard, is it? Would that BBC front page have suffered had the headline been 'ray of hope' or 'glimpse of light' instead?
Is it really too much to ask for people to not to use a racial slur when there are other words available? Perhaps it is... when Chinese people are concerned.
Let's consign this phrase to the dustbin of abandoned, out-dated language.