It’s important to recognize that language around age, race, sex, disabilities and religion must be handled thoughtfully. Use fairness, sensitivity and good taste when identifying age, colour, creed, nationality, personal appearance, religion sex and any other heading under which a person or group may feel slighted.
The university follows Canadian Press Stylebook guidelines for inclusive language. If you have the guide, refer to pages 19-24 of the 14th edition.
Here are some examples:
1. CP uses uppercase for Aboriginal Peoples, which includes all Indian, Métis and Inuit people in Canada. First Nations is also uppercase. Other variations — indigenous people, aboriginals (except for Aboriginals of Australia), native peoples — are lowercase.
2. In all references, be guided by the preference of those concerned.
3. Use Indian with discretion. Some people object to it because it originated with the European explorers’ misconception that they had landed in India. Others, especially status Indians, prefer it to be used.
4. Use native advisedly. Aboriginal and First Nations are more specific and are preferred by many in the community.
5. Where reasonable, prefer the actual name of the community — Cree, Mohawk, Tsuu T'ina, Ojibwa — to a generality. For band names, use the spelling the band prefers, which is also the spelling used by the federal government.
Names of races
1. Capitalize the proper names of nationalities, peoples, races and tribes.
Aboriginal Peoples, Arab, Caucasian, French-Canadian, Inuit, Jew, Latin, Negro, Asian, Cree
2. Note that black and white do not name races and are lowercase.
3. The term black is acceptable in all references in Canada and the United States. In the United States, African-American is also used; in Canada African-Canadian is used by some people but not by others.
4. There is usually no need to use hyphenated descriptions such as Polish-Canadian or Jamaican-Canadian, given they may put an inappropriate emphasis on the person’s ethnic background. But these descriptions can be used if the individual prefers and it is relevant.
Shoppers (not housewives) are paying more.
When writing in general terms prefer police officer or constable to policeman, firefighter to fireman, mail carrier to mailman, flight attendant to stewardess.
Some readers find the use of he (him, his) as a word of common or indeterminate gender to be sexist. His or her and the like can be used but may prove awkward. In that case reword the sentence if possible. Instead of: Whoever is promoted will have $50 added to his or her pay, write: Whoever is promoted will get a $50 raise. As a last resort, they (them, their) is an increasingly acceptable alternative to he (him, his).
Gay is usually preferred as an alternative for homosexual men and is also commonly used for women, although lesbian is preferred by many women. Use sexual orientation, not sexual preference. Language is still evolving on what to call the individuals in a same-sex relationship or marriage. Partner, husband and wife are all acceptable options depending on preference.