Saturday, June 19, 2010

C'est l'amour ... !

The Lovers
Pablo Picasso

Is there any word in the English language more boring than the word "partner" as a substitute for the word "lover"? How on earth did lover become politically incorrect? Or spouse, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé... affaire de coeur. What politically correct tyrant came up with the words "partner" or "significant other" in place of the word lover? Can you imagine the romantic poets writing wonderful poetry, prose or songs about a partner? The word has all the romance of a cement wall. What on earth has happened to the English language that we feel we have to sanitize it to the point where it has no feeling ... it just feels forced and artificial.

This morning I was watching a segment on TV about female Viagra. The doctor who was being interviewed kept referring to the folks in question as "partners". Well, no wonder Viagra is necessary -- we have eradicated every trace of romance between two people. Which one of these phrases completely lacks sex appeal:

"I am going to go home after work and make passionate love with my lover..."

"I am going to go home after work and copulate with my partner..."

Language shapes the way we see things. In a way, it is the music of our lives. But I have noticed lately that people are so self-conscious about how they speak, and which words to choose, that the art of conversation has become awkward. Political correctness can be used as a tool to censor, stifle and discredit what other folks have to say. Of course, there are certain words that are so offensive, it shocks us now that they were ever used at all. Without listing them here, we all know what those words are, but unfortunately we occasionally still hear them. However, there are certain words that should be left alone. They don't marginalize anyone, and they don't offend. Here is a list of some of the silliest politically correct terms I have seen lately.

Homeless - outdoor urban dwellers
Plagiarism - previously owned prose
Prostitute - sex care provider
Thin - horizontally challenged
Fat - horizontally gifted
Too old/young - other aged
Wrong - differently logical

Oh, goodness...

Here is the amazing Aretha Franklin singing "Partner Lover Come Back to Me".


Sam Liu said...

Oh so very, very true! We risk living in a constrained, Orwellian Newpseak sort of society if we do not sort this out and soon. You're so right...there is no passion, no sensuality, no hint of sex and love in the word "partner". When I hear that word, all I think of is two men in grey suits who have decided to merge their two respective companies concerning finance and insurance. But when I hear "lover", I think of affinity, of two kindred souls, of passion and beauty. We really do need to stop quashing the natural humanity of our language.

I must say, thank you for sharing those superfluous politically correct terms, their complete ridiculousness really made me laugh :D

Single and Sane said...

"Well, no wonder Viagra is necessary -- we have eradicated every trace of romance between two people."

That's hysterical. Thanks for the laugh!


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

So right you are! I posted once about an attempt to ban the use of the word "pets" because it was said to be demeaning to animals. The proposed replacement term was "animal companion". Someone wrote in and said that he thought that the politicians were being "animal companionary". (i.e. petty).

TomCat said...

Here's another...
Insane: Politically Teabuggered. ;-)

On the lover, that term took on the social connotation of the "other woman". Once I introduced my former fiancee as my lover and someone actually asked, "Then, where is your wife?"

Indian Pundit said...

On partner.

Listen modern definition of a "relationship" is only "give and take"....and "give and take" happens only in business.Hence u have "partners" in business..oops sorry relationships!

Note:is it sounding stupid?LOL

heartinsanfrancisco said...

A brilliant post, Jo! Some of the politically correct terms on your list are new to me, thankfully, but your views on "partner" are so true. I cringe when I hear it used to describe a romantic relationship because it sounds like a business deal. And it's impossible to be passionate about someone with whom one does business.

Can you imagine Aretha singing "Person of the Female Persuasion Lacking Artifice?"

Kathryn said...

Well, Jo, culture changes, i guess.

When people began living together & "boyfriend/girlfriend" no longer seemed appropriate or to give their relationship as much "weight" as it has, but "husband/wife" wasn't appropriate either. "Partner" seems to fit the bill.

"Lover" maybe seemed a bit too, um, specific. For me to call my husband "lover" is appropriate & intimate; calling a co-worker's significant other "lover" just seems damned weird.

Also, the reality of gay couples enters.

I have a brother who is gay. I love him very much. I 100% support "domestic partnerships" & think that they should have the rights & privileges to share bank accounts & decision making & whatever it takes to create their family.

However, i will be honest to say i'm not "PC" enough to feel comfortable calling it a "marriage." To me the word has religious ties which make me hesitate to use that word. To call my brother's partner his "husband" is a little too far for me. To call him "your lover" seems too personal. I know i'll probably get reamed for saying so.

"Partner," while not romantic, seems to step in & reduce all the difficulties of trying to specify a relationship in our age of complicated relationships.

Mia said...

Some people use euphemisms like partner because they risk ridicule and even physical violence if others learn that they love the "wrong" gender. Some people use a sterile word like partner as a mild form of protest since they can't marry their lover but can only enter a "civil partnership". When everybody is finally allowed to truly be themselves maybe they'll finally speak from the heart.

And CNN sucks.


I think Kathryn summarizes my viewpoint, so enough said from me........

DJan said...

Yes, Kathryn said it for me, too.The need for politically correct euphemisms is because there are so many bigoted people who don't see two people who love each other as being okay unless they are a man and a woman of the correct age in relation to each other. So if we get everything smoothed out to meaninglessness, we've made some sort of progress. I guess.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

P.S. I'm "vertically challenged" myself, as in "short."

pilgrimchick said...

I agree that political correctness shouldn't invade everything the way it does, especially language. What does it say about us given we allow PC to invade romance?

Rosaria Williams said...

Yes, we have lost our heads, hearts, and courage to call each other by what the other elicits: love, enchantment, desire, passion. Let's be grown up about it all.

Rosaria Williams said...

Yes, we have lost our heads, hearts, and courage to call each other by what the other elicits: love, enchantment, desire, passion. Let's be grown up about it all.

The Bug said...

I agree with a lot of what you say, but Kathryn is right in that I'm not sure I feel ok with calling my friend's lover her lover LOL. I think SHE should call him/her that, but not me.

Also, (here enters the former HR employee), when offering domestic partner health insurance coverage I'm pretty sure using the word lover would be frowned upon!

PinkPanthress said...

You are absolutely right!
I see the same happening in our language, too, and it scares me how 'vulcan' we have become.

I like these ones out of your list most...
Prostitute - sex care provider
Thin - horizontally challenged
Wrong - differently logical

Jo said...

Hello, folks. Thanks for your wonderful comments. I think many of you are concentrating on the word "lover" while I only meant it as an example of a preferable word to "partner". I also mention "spouse", "husband", "wife", "girlfriend", "boyfriend" (sort of adolescent, I know... *heh*) or fiance. In Canada, gay marriages are legal, and spouses are referred to as someone's "wife" or "husband".

If people continue to use the word "partner", they are acquiescing to the PC police. Straight, gay, married, single, in a relationship or not, the word "partner" makes me think of kids in grade two, lining up for fire drill. "Make sure you hold your partner's hand...!" *heh* If you have a husband or a wife, those are perfectly good words. If you have a fiance, that's a good word too. If you have a lover -- hey, why not?

"Partner" is political correctness run amok...! To heck with the bigots. Tell them to knaff off...! The more people give in to the bigots, the more power they have.

TC said...

Horizontally gifted? My brother does call me squatty body, say it, it does rhyme.
You crack me up.....
I think partner happened because of people gay people and husband and wife which always puzzled me, not enough to ask though, lover would be sort of medium though and I like it better than partner.

June said...

I grow tired of political correctitude. I can't keep up with the jargon.

Lover sounds European to me...visions of dark restaurants and couples walking over bridges by moonlight...

Anonymous said...

You are so right about the political correctness gone mad. when I worked in the UK it was my biggest daily frustration... now I live in the Middle East I can safely say that 99% of teh population have never heard of the word!! Maybe something inbetween the two views would be good ;)

jennifer black said...

Interesting post. I agree in some ways ... and disagree in others ... (especially as has been expressed by the oft-quoted Kathryn).

I worry that dismissing something as PC might cause us to miss an opportunity to think about how language shapes our interactions with the world and thus our definitions of reality.

For example, it was once considered silly PC to say "mail carrier" instead of "mailman." But when we say "mail carrier," we're invited to let go our history of all *male* carriers and open the door to new realities.

That's not to say that some newly-coined language use isn't just plain silly, of course.

I guess what I find most interesting is what my resistance to change in terms of language tells me about my own beliefs and assumptions about the world.

Good post!


Wolynski said...

Partner was invented to replace husband and wife, because many couples, especially in Europe, choose not to get married.

Hate the word lover. Many couples, especially the elderly, get together for companionship, not romance and sex.

In the book "Portrait Of a Marriage", the son describes his parents, both gay and absolutely devoted to each other - they sought sex outside of marriage. So they're not lovers, but partners.

Partner allows for all sorts of variations.