People should avoid using colloquial phrases such as “blown away”, “deadline” and “not a bad idea” because they are overly violent, one author claims.
A number of seemingly innocuous sentences are included in a guide entitled Evolving from Violent Language, which Anna Taylor, a communications director based in the US, found too harsh.
Her list of phrases, which has now gone viral, includes colloquial phrases such as “jump the gun”, “roll with the punches”, and “straight shooter”.
She then suggested more “positive” alternatives, such as “pull the trigger” become “to launch”, or “kill two birds with one stone” become “feed two birds with one stone”.
In one example, Ms. Taylor puts “not a bad idea” on the violent list, while offering “good idea” as an alternative.
Ms Taylor, who is the director of global communications for Phenomenex, a medical supplies company, told The Mail on Sunday that the guide was aimed at those who want to replace usually violent expressions with more positive and inclusive language.
On her LinkedIn page, she called on people to exchange at least one sentence every week.
The list has been widely shared, aided by a retweet from Silicon Valley executive Jeremiah Owyang, which has been viewed 31 million times.
However, the guide has also been widely ridiculed, with many mocking and over-labeling the suggestions.
Julia Hartley-Brewer, the broadcaster, sarcastically tweeted:
Ian Bremmer, the author and political scientist, wrote, “Trying to figure out how ‘not a bad idea’ is violent.”
Last month, the Associated Press had to apologize for suggesting that its use of the term “the French” was inhumane after it updated its style guide to encourage more sensitive language.
This was derided by the French Embassy in the US, who suggested it might change its name to the “Embassy of Frenchness”.
AP also suggested that phrases such as “the poor” and “the highly educated” could be considered “dehumanizing.”
Responding to criticism from some academics, Ms Taylor told The Mail on Sunday: “There is certainly a section of people, who often present themselves as white males, who question the guide.”
“Have we become so desensitized?”
At the time of writing, Ms. Taylor’s original LinkedIn post introducing the list had received hundreds of direct responses.
One commenter responded by asking, “Have we become so sensitive?” Ms. Taylor suggested that the poster rephrase his question, asking “Have we become so desensitized?”
In a post responding to the attention her list has received, she said many of those who responded negatively “openly admitted to being advocates for creating less inclusive environments.”
She added: “Their perspective (and not those who disagree, but part of the reasoning and the humiliation) is either unconscious bias, unintentional micro-aggression, deliberate macro-aggression or unadulterated racism.”