Blacklist

The maintainers of Linux are making changes to discourage words with unfortunate connotations following some recommendations. Words like 'blacklist', 'whitelist', 'master' & 'slave'.

And of course a lot of people are up in arms about this:

Would these SJWs please take Etymology 101 before banning every other word in English. Blacklist has nothing to do with ethnicity or BLM or IOU or WTF, etc. Stop the nonsense.

Well. Perhaps people should also study some linguistics, where they will learn that the connotations of a term have absolutely nothing to do with its ancient history in the form of its etymology. No-one worries when they say 'avocado' that it comes from a word in Nahuatl which also means 'testicle' or that 'foray' comes from a word meaning 'straw' in old French. The etymology of terms does not matter at all to people speaking a natural language: what matters is what the term means and what its connotations are in the language spoken at the time they are speaking.

But of course they won't do that: instead they will invent spurious reasons why terms which many people legitimately might find offensive should continue to be used because of the distant history of those terms. And of course this is nothing to do with the fact that they have benefited from the suppression of the people who will be demeaned by the use of these terms. Of course it's not.

The argument that etymology should control the language you use today is exactly the same as the argument that who your distant ancestors were should control what rights you have today, and it appeals to exactly the same people.


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