Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Advocacy & Safety
Reload this Page >

The Power of Language

Notices
Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

The Power of Language

Old 02-14-15, 10:21 AM
  #1  
nelsonmilum
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
nelsonmilum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 58

Bikes: 1982 Miyata 110SP, 1973 Eaton Glider, 1983 Peugeot UO 12.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The Power of Language

Don't Say 'Cyclists,' Say 'People on Bikes' - Sarah Goodyear

This is an article about how a change in word choice impacted the tone of discussion. By having discussions focused on people rather than activities there seems to have been positive movement in making the roads safer for people travelling by any means.

What do you all think? Can language and they way we frame things have that big of an impact, or is it just a coincidence, or is it more complicated than all of that?
nelsonmilum is offline  
Old 02-14-15, 11:56 AM
  #2  
noglider 
aka Tom Reingold
 
noglider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: High Falls, NY, USA
Posts: 39,879

Bikes: 1962 Rudge Sports, 1971 Raleigh Super Course, 1971 Raleigh Pro Track, 1974 Raleigh International, 1975 Viscount Fixie, 1982 McLean, 1996 Lemond (Ti), 2002 Burley Zydeco tandem

Mentioned: 484 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6856 Post(s)
Liked 1,460 Times in 928 Posts
My reflex in cases like this is to resist, but actually, I think it's a well considered suggestion. I'll try it. It won't be easy.

My 23-year-old daughter identifies as queer, and she raises the issue of gender-neutral pronouns. Out of respect for her, I plan to try. Depending on context, I will ask people what pronouns they prefer. Life is full of changes, and we shouldn't resist them categorically.
__________________
Tom Reingold, tom@noglider.com
New York City and High Falls, NY
Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.” — Elizabeth West, US author

Please email me rather than PM'ing me. Thanks.
noglider is offline  
Old 02-14-15, 12:26 PM
  #3  
nelsonmilum
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
nelsonmilum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 58

Bikes: 1982 Miyata 110SP, 1973 Eaton Glider, 1983 Peugeot UO 12.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Changing ingrained language habits can be super difficult, I'm pretty new to cycling, so if I choose to take on this type of language it may not be as difficult for me as is could be for others. The gender language is a tough nut to crack considering our culture, the best advice I've read for when you mess up is along the lines of 'apologize, but don't agonize' or 'acknowledge the mistake, correct it, and move on.' The more you pay attention to that kind of language, the quicker a person can adjust.
nelsonmilum is offline  
Old 02-15-15, 09:06 AM
  #4  
BobbyG
Senior Member
 
BobbyG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 5,197

Bikes: 2015 Charge Plug, 1997 Nishiki Blazer, 1984 Nishiki International

Mentioned: 53 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1127 Post(s)
Liked 898 Times in 433 Posts
As with much pc-speak I was going to dismiss this out of hand as feel-good tripe. But I read the article and thought, "yes!" Using the article's own example what if instead of a headline reading "SUV Kills Pedestrian" it read, "Person with SUV Kills Person on Foot". Or "Person with *** Kills Person at ATM". This grammatical strategy would show that it's people who cause crimes, not SUV's, nor guns, nor other objects. But seriously...This would never work for headlines where terse wording rules. On the other hand, it would be a nicer world if everybody thought about how their actions affected others both negatively and positively.
BobbyG is offline  
Old 02-15-15, 02:27 PM
  #5  
Chris516
24-Speed Machine
 
Chris516's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Wash. Grove, MD
Posts: 6,058

Bikes: 2003 Specialized Allez 24-Speed Road Bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Read the response by 'Mairead'. They made some good observations about the language change.
Chris516 is offline  
Old 02-16-15, 07:55 AM
  #6  
nelsonmilum
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
nelsonmilum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Winnipeg
Posts: 58

Bikes: 1982 Miyata 110SP, 1973 Eaton Glider, 1983 Peugeot UO 12.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
@Chris516 The only comment on that link by "Mairead" that I saw was about people conflating people on bikes with people on motorbikes. It may be a fair criticism of the specific phrasing, but I think it's pretty a pretty small barrier in the larger conversation about language. It's also a pretty weak excuse to ignore results and carry on without changing. If "People on bikes" doesn't work, and we have good reasons not to use it, then we can find a different way to make our language person-centred.
@BobbyG You're absolutely right, short and snappy headlines are the bread an butter of the news reporting industry. I would argue though that their usage is a reflection of our own. If there was a shift in language by the people within the community, that shift could naturally move to other people... not an overnight change to be sure, but I wouldn't expect something like this to be quick and easy.
nelsonmilum is offline  
Old 02-16-15, 03:59 PM
  #7  
delcrossv 
Senior Member
 
delcrossv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Scalarville
Posts: 1,457
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
As someone who eschews PC-speak, gender neutrality or other orwellianisms as being either pandering to the thin skinned or just plain unnecessary, I don't think this will have any positive impact on the issue of treatment of cyclists by motorists or the public at large..

Although it sure sounds​ nice.
__________________
Lightning P-38 / M5 M-Racer/Ryan Vanguard
delcrossv is offline  
Old 02-16-15, 07:50 PM
  #8  
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 35,964

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Mentioned: 124 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4362 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 27 Times in 26 Posts
Originally Posted by delcrossv View Post
As someone who eschews PC-speak, gender neutrality or other orwellianisms as being either pandering to the thin skinned or just plain unnecessary, I don't think this will have any positive impact on the issue of treatment of cyclists by motorists or the public at large..

Although it sure sounds​ nice.
+1, although I'm not sure it even sounds nice.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 02-16-15, 08:07 PM
  #9  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,307
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 1,140 Times in 828 Posts
not sure how to put this, but reminding people that it's a person on a bike is not a horrible idea. It has been noted that we are isolated in our cars, and breaking through that isolation is always a good thing
unterhausen is offline  
Old 02-16-15, 08:13 PM
  #10  
kickstart
Senior Member
 
kickstart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Kent Wa.
Posts: 5,332

Bikes: 2005 Gazelle Golfo, 1935 Raleigh Sport, 1970 Robin Hood sport, 1974 Schwinn Continental, 1984 Ross MTB/porteur, 2013 Flying Piegon path racer, 2014 Gazelle Toer Populair T8

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 396 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
I find it discouraging how much emphases is given to the facade of being PC without any real concern for the content of the character behind the words. I have noticed the louder and more often one demands "respect", the less worthy of it they are.

Respect is earned by showing it, not demanding it.
kickstart is offline  
Old 02-16-15, 09:57 PM
  #11  
AlmostTrick
Tortoise Wins by a Hare!
 
AlmostTrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Looney Tunes, IL
Posts: 7,289

Bikes: Wabi Special FG, Raleigh Roper, Nashbar AL-1, Miyata One Hundred, '70 Schwinn Lemonator and More!!

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1486 Post(s)
Liked 832 Times in 442 Posts
I agree and regularly attempt to use the proper terminology. Not because it's PC or because I expect any great change in attitude, but because it just makes more sense.
AlmostTrick is online now  
Old 02-18-15, 05:06 AM
  #12  
Essex
Senior Member
 
Essex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Northeast United States
Posts: 1,147

Bikes: Tarmac, Focus Urban 8, Giant Hybrid

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think context is important when changing trends in verbal communication. Seattle tends to be a liberal city, and Washington a typically progressive state. While it's a good idea to differentiate terms - where you live, the people you speak to all have to be somewhat on board.

In Brooklyn NY - I think this effort would be a hard sell. Maybe a little less so in Manhattan.
Essex is offline  
Old 02-18-15, 10:41 AM
  #13  
SlowNeasy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: N Fla.
Posts: 143

Bikes: new Trek3700,Experianced Raleigh500RT.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Actually I don't think this falls under political correctness , which I take as 'mandated?' speech designed not to hurt the feelings of certain ethnics/groups . This is just a idea of how we might better speak and get our point across and make the most positive impact. Our language has been changing at least since it was brought to England . (NO I wasn't there). But I guarantee you when I was a kid "gay" meant something different and "Dude" was derogatory. I won't even get into acceptable racial and religious terms of that era.I heard a piece on NPR radio the other day about the study of how language changes ,what was and is no longer acceptable. This seems just a better way to speak in order to accomplish our goals . In this case recognition and fair treatment for all , so people can ride and enjoy their bicycles and drive their cars , together on our roads,safely. (See! you can too teach an old dog new tricks )
SlowNeasy is offline  
Old 02-18-15, 10:47 AM
  #14  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,307
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 1,140 Times in 828 Posts
I think the best explanation of "PC" is that some people just don't like to be called out when they are impolite in their language choices. Saying "people on bikes" is a technique of manipulation using language. It has the intention of introducing an idea. Saying "cyclists" is ok, we will not be offended
unterhausen is offline  
Old 02-18-15, 12:25 PM
  #15  
dipy911
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 264
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Too many words. Besides I'm a bicycle driver.
dipy911 is offline  
Old 02-18-15, 06:47 PM
  #16  
rydabent
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Lincoln Ne
Posts: 8,935

Bikes: RANS Stratus TerraTrike Tour II

Mentioned: 26 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2321 Post(s)
Liked 617 Times in 372 Posts
After reading the article, it looks like more PC clap trap. Especially the grid that suggest "proper" phrases.

IMO we already have a cycling problem. Some of the self proclaimed "elite" wont admit that anyone that rides a bike is a cyclist. If you look up cyclist in a dictionary, it says------a person that travels by bicycle. It does not say a fully kitted roadie on a $7000 bicycle. So----------in fact little Susie on her sidewalk bike with her pink basket is a cyclist.
rydabent is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 05:42 AM
  #17  
Essex
Senior Member
 
Essex's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Northeast United States
Posts: 1,147

Bikes: Tarmac, Focus Urban 8, Giant Hybrid

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
At the end of the day - it's all politics and knowing your audience. What works in one place won't work in others. Personally, I like a direct approach as it avoids circumlocution.
Essex is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 07:09 AM
  #18  
Trakhak
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 2,616
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 836 Post(s)
Liked 561 Times in 334 Posts
Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
After reading the article, it looks like more PC clap trap. Especially the grid that suggest "proper" phrases.

IMO we already have a cycling problem. Some of the self proclaimed "elite" wont admit that anyone that rides a bike is a cyclist. If you look up cyclist in a dictionary, it says------a person that travels by bicycle. It does not say a fully kitted roadie on a $7000 bicycle. So----------in fact little Susie on her sidewalk bike with her pink basket is a cyclist.
So those elitists are insufficiently PC, in your estimation? Not sure what your "cycling problem" is, otherwise.
Trakhak is online now  
Old 02-19-15, 08:43 AM
  #19  
AlmostTrick
Tortoise Wins by a Hare!
 
AlmostTrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Looney Tunes, IL
Posts: 7,289

Bikes: Wabi Special FG, Raleigh Roper, Nashbar AL-1, Miyata One Hundred, '70 Schwinn Lemonator and More!!

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1486 Post(s)
Liked 832 Times in 442 Posts
Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
If you look up cyclist in a dictionary, it says------a person that travels by bicycle. It does not say a fully kitted roadie on a $7000 bicycle. So----------in fact little Susie on her sidewalk bike with her pink basket is a cyclist.
No, no, no! Susie would be a kiddie on a bicycle. And the former in your example? Snobs on bikes of course!
AlmostTrick is online now  
Old 02-19-15, 09:55 AM
  #20  
SlowNeasy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: N Fla.
Posts: 143

Bikes: new Trek3700,Experianced Raleigh500RT.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
[QUOTE=unterhausen;17564494]I think the best explanation of "PC" is that some people just don't like to be called out when they are impolite in their language choices. Saying "people on bikes" is a technique of manipulation using language. It has the intention of introducing an idea. Saying "cyclists" is ok, we will not be offended[/QUOTE

"some people don't like being called out when they are impolite" I've seen guys "called out" by superiors at work because they ordered Chicken Fried Steak and (milk) Gravy which was "offensive" to certain religious people at the table. PC ?
Another time while we were doing some onerous task at work we were all complaining I said " Oh Well , I guess it beats picking cotton " (a common saying from rural Texas by men , like me , who had as children actually picked cotton in the hot sun day after day ) This was seen as a racial slur ( by young guys that had never even seen a cotton field) Now I call these PC violations and not "insults".
I don't think we're talking about insulting or offending "bicyclist" or "people on bicycles" with our speech. I think this is just suggestions for getting our point across and listened to. For instance at a City Council meeting or Letters to the Editor ect.
SlowNeasy is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 10:27 AM
  #21  
MMACH 5
Cycle Dallas
 
MMACH 5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Land of Gar, TX
Posts: 3,777

Bikes: Dulcinea--2017 Kona Rove & a few others

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 3 Posts
For my first several years as a bicycle commuter, I resisted the label "cyclist." When folks would refer to me as a cyclist, I'd say something along the lines of "I smoke too much to be a cyclist. I'm just a guy who rides a bicycle to work."

It was a slow change, but eventually, I started shaving my legs, wearing lycra, and quit smoking. It was harder for me to resist the label.
MMACH 5 is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 01:34 PM
  #22  
SlowNeasy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: N Fla.
Posts: 143

Bikes: new Trek3700,Experianced Raleigh500RT.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by MMACH 5 View Post
For my first several years as a bicycle commuter, I resisted the label "cyclist." When folks would refer to me as a cyclist, I'd say something along the lines of "I smoke too much to be a cyclist. I'm just a guy who rides a bicycle to work."

It was a slow change, but eventually, I started shaving my legs, wearing lycra, and quit smoking. It was harder for me to resist the label.
+1 I resisted the clothing and label for a long time, I had had a bad experience with a real "cyclist" while jogging in S. Fl. Took a while but heat and chaffing and restriction little by little forced me to go over to the very functional bike clothing and I guess the label.

I like your Flying Red Horse avatar. Reminds me of when I was a little kid back in the 40s when we rarely drove to Dallas at night . We would keep watch to see who could be first to spot the Flying Red Horse in the distance ,mounted on the tallest building in Big D. (Or at least the most visible at night )
SlowNeasy is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 02:05 PM
  #23  
MMACH 5
Cycle Dallas
 
MMACH 5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Land of Gar, TX
Posts: 3,777

Bikes: Dulcinea--2017 Kona Rove & a few others

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by SlowNeasy View Post
...
I like your Flying Red Horse avatar. Reminds me of when I was a little kid back in the 40s when we rarely drove to Dallas at night . We would keep watch to see who could be first to spot the Flying Red Horse in the distance ,mounted on the tallest building in Big D. (Or at least the most visible at night )
Thanks. My grandfather made neon signs for decades in Wichita Falls, so he churned out countless Mobile horses for gas stations in west Texas.
MMACH 5 is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 02:08 PM
  #24  
FBinNY 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 35,964

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Mentioned: 124 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4362 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 27 Times in 26 Posts
Originally Posted by MMACH 5 View Post
Thanks. My grandfather made neon signs for decades in Wichita Falls, so he churned out countless Mobile horses for gas stations in west Texas.
Did the horses move? or were they the Mobil logo? (sorry, I really need to build up my resistance to this sort of nonsense)
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

“Never argue with an idiot. He will only bring you down to his level and beat you with experience.”, George Carlin

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

Last edited by FBinNY; 02-19-15 at 02:13 PM.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 02-19-15, 02:17 PM
  #25  
MMACH 5
Cycle Dallas
 
MMACH 5's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Land of Gar, TX
Posts: 3,777

Bikes: Dulcinea--2017 Kona Rove & a few others

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 8 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Did the horses move? or were they the Mobil logo? (sorry, I really need to build up my resistance to this sort of nonsense)
Sorry. Typo on my part. They were the logo for Mobil Oil (formerly Magnolia Petroleum - the one in the Dallas skyline is at the top of the Magnolia building).
MMACH 5 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.