Friday, February 5, 2010

An 800 Pound Gorilla

Another blog about what words are correct.

Have you noticed that the phrase, "Ignoring the 800 Pound Gorilla in the room", has disappeared from news commentary and polite usage? Just now on TV I heard a reference to the 2000 lb elephant in the room. The other day I heard someone refer to the 1000 lb Bear in the room. It is as if they are searching for a new metaphor that is politically correct.

Now AXA Equitable is still using their 800 lb Gorilla to get baby boomers to buy retirement plans and there is still a Gorilla Insurance Marketing, but they may fall to the PC axe soon.

Recently I discovered from the news that Negro is now a racist term, even though we will be using it in our 2010 Census forms. I remember when Black was a racist term and Negro was the polite and correct term. Once in the 1980's when I was invited to address a meeting of the local chapter of the Colored Women's Clubs of America, by an elderly black woman whom I worked with, I was told to use in my speech about desegregation the term "people of color" and not black or worse African American.

Things are always changing, that's true, but it seems as though in this age of the Internet and cable TV we have sped up the evolution of political correctness . Calling someone a retard has long been unacceptable, now the concept of being retarded is incorrect. So be it.

I'm not saying this is wrong, just that for some of us the adaptation time is to fast. What we need is some sort of annual, or maybe monthly newsletter or something where we can find out what is currently in and out, right and wrong. I'm not an advocate of linguistic relativism mind you, but I just need some way to keep in touch with it.

Say, does anyone know what ever happened to the pancake places called Sambo's?


Anonymous said...

The metaphor that refers to a large subject that can't be ignored but that nobody talks about is "the elephant in the room." The metaphor that refers to someone who wields unreasonable power is "the 800-pound gorilla."

drlobojo said...

Excellent point Anon-, but I googled the phrase "a 1000 lb elephant in the room" in the "news" catagory and in most cases it was being used in the same sense and meaning as the "gorilla" metaphor. It seems regarless of the original metaphor when someone adds "weight" to the saying then they are delivering a power statement.