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Joined: December 4, 2004  (email not validated)
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The term foreigner is acceptable in the US, but you have to be careful you don’t piss-off the locals.

The intelligentsia here will probably refute (which is too bad because they could do it such better justice) but for many in America there is a backlash against the silliness of perceived overly politically correct terms and usage. I think they believe it is agenda oriented double-talk and equates to so called “left-wing” politics. People jokingly use the phrase “so far left they are on the right” when people get uppity about enforcing non-use of politically incorrect terms – like some evil inverse twin of the Nazi propaganda machine.

When I was living in Japan, and told that gaijin means foreigner, I was demeaned by the term thinking it a terse pejorative. When I came to understand more clearly how the pervasive term gaijin is used day-to-day (literally “outside person”) I came to believe that it was actually much worse than I had initially expected. It could be used to mean “not Japanese” and more specifically to imply “not genetically Japanese”. So it could be used as a subtle racial slur. Predictably, Japanese Americans who do not speak Japanese (although not admired there) were not as quickly categorized as gaijin.

Once I looked at the larger picture, and got over the fact that it wasn’t all-about-me, I realized that indeed… well… I was a gaijin. And that is was ME who was carrying some kind of left-wing overly sensitive word usage baggage.

My supposition is that ultimately being politically correct breeds exactly that which it is intended to reduce, ill feelings; like some kind of Star Trek conflict scenario where the more energy the ship employs, the more energy that will be used against it. Much more now I appreciate the fact that some cultures call “a spade a spade” (read: foreigner) and that proactively switching words around to protect the under privileged or salve the conscious of the over privileged, ultimately, works against itself – imho. Just a thought.

This post is not intended to be inflammatory. I’m reminded of Mr. White’s take on Mr. Strunk’s advise “Why mix ignorance with inaudibility?” : )

sully December 5, 2004, 2:08am

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This link is a good source for US terminology of consumer water:

(Note: In the US there are various levels of laws and ordinances that require certain constraints to sellers, and provide certain amenities to customers, in support of commercial licenses. It’s my understanding that restaurants in California, and possibly every state, have to serve drinkable water for free if they serve food or drink for profit. It’s of note that if food or water is served to a table, and rejected by a patron, that food or water must be disposed of and not given to another subsequent customer - in California anyway).

sully December 4, 2004, 8:56pm

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