Ampersand and I have periodically discussed the issue of ableist language. We’d both like to do better about purging some of the words that infest our vocabulary. In particular, the word “lame” has a tendency to creep into our statements, probably because it’s part of the sort of casual geek slang we both have a tendency to use.
We’ve made a pact — my husband is in on it, too — to try to note to each other when we slip and use the word without thinking.
Lately, I’ve been trying to come up with fun replacement words, particularly because I know that then I’ll be looking forward to opportunities to replace the ableist word with something fun. Cuz I’m a word dork.
My candidates (which don’t really work) are: Xander, as in “That’s so Xander,” and “I can’t believe you would say something so Xander,” because I really dislike Xander from Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Obviously, that’s too in-jokey to pass real world muster.
My other candidate comes from the nerdy front: a friend of mine was recently reading some Victorian translations of medieval texts and coming across frequent usage of the term “brast,” which means burst or shatter, often with amusing faux-archaic add-ons, such as “to-brast,” e.g. “the spear went all to-brast.” Here’s an example of the term from Spenser: “Dreadfull furies which their chains have brast.” Another similar, out-of-usage word is “frush,” and its silly add-on “to-frush.” For instance from Shakespeare, “I like thine armor well; I’ll frush it and unlock the rivets all.”
None of these are particularly good replacements, even though they amuse me. But luckily Deborah at The Hand Mirror has an admirable list:
So, next time you have the urge to use inept ableist language, put aside your pathetic ableism, and be deficient no more. Don’t be Xander; don’t let your vocabulary go to-brast. Find another word.