In a message dated 9/29/2015 3:03:48 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, a
... I am determined to revise my vocabulary of terms regarding
'deaf' and related topics -- in order to be as inoffensive and
non-oppressive as possible.
So I am researching various terms particularly the term 'deafness'
and how it is perceived as offensive or oppressive by some Deaf
To me the term 'deafness' is neither offensive nor oppressive for
this reason. The suffix -ness simply means a 'state of being' (the
suffix conveys neither a positive nor negative connotation).
My understanding is that the suffix -ness is simply added to an
adjective (or some other part of speech) for the purpose of
converting it to a noun.
Now, perhaps unbeknownst to me, the suffix -ness also indicates a
medical or mental 'pathology?' Or a 'pathological' condition or some
I have to do more research so I have a better understanding of why
some Deaf people prefer that the term 'deafness' not be used.
Once I have a better understanding of various terms that are
perceived by some to be offensive or oppressive, I want to share
what I learn with my ASL students and Deaf friends who often use
But I won't do that until I have a good, solid grip on the logic for
'not using' those terms.
As I said, I'm just thinking out loud here and thanking you for the
inspiration to 'clean up' my vocabulary when it comes to certain
-- NAME ON FILE
Sometimes labels are eschewed not because of the label itself but
because of who is doing the labeling. Suppose two people decide to
have a baby together and they are considering naming their baby
"John." Then someone they don't like comes along and
announces, "You should name your baby John.
You are lucky I came by and gave you a good strong name for your
baby. From now on when you call your baby John you can be grateful
to me for having named your baby."
Do you think that the couple will go ahead and name their baby John?
Do you see terms such as: Spanishness, Asianness, Mexicanness,
Canadianness, etc. being used? Never. (Or at least never
beyond poetic license or epigrammatic usage.)
How about "blackness" applied to Black people? Rarely if ever and
even then it would be strange.
When the "-ness" suffix
is combined with "deaf" it is almost always to call attention to a
"lack" of hearing -- rather than an attribute of being.
- Dr. Bill
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