>Here’s a bit of anarticleabout the Warwickshire police department’s Policing Our Communities handbook, which contains a section on communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds. I’m going to present it as written, because everything I could possibly have to say about it has been said elsewhere in the UK tag.
It states: ‘Don’t assume those words for the time of day, such as afternoon or evening, have the same meaning.’
A force spokesman explained: ‘Terms such as afternoon and evening are somewhat subjective in meaning and can vary according to a person’s culture or nationality. In many cultures the term evening is linked to time of day when people have their main meal of the day.
‘In some countries, including the UK, the evening meal time is traditionally thought of as being around 5-7pm but this might be different, say, for a family from America who might have their main meal earlier and thus for them evening may be an earlier time.’
In a section entitled Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Communities the handbook confusingly states that the phrase ‘lesbians and gay men’ is likely to be satisfactory for most situations when talking about sexual orientation, but says ‘ homosexual’ is ‘best avoided’ as the word is ‘interpreted differently by many and relates to sexual practice as opposed to sexual orientation’.
Following a Freedom of Information request to police forces and fire services it also emerged that a number, including Essex Police and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, instruct staff to avoid the words ‘child, youth or youngster’.
They could have ‘connotations of inexperience, impetuosity and unreliability, or even dishonesty’.
The guide used by them also states that addressing someone as ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ may ’cause offence’. It suggests ‘young people’ instead.
The same guide also warns against the phrases ‘manning the phones’, ‘layman’s terms’ and ‘the tax man’, for ‘making women invisible’.
So young people is ok, but youngster isn’t?
And it continues this way, including this fabulously no shit piece of advice.
“Do take care to be patient and reassuring when accent or language hinders communication. (Remember, a translator could be useful).”
Boy, I sure am glad we have highly paid consultants to figure these things out for us. Wait, should I have said highly paid? It might make poor people feel inadequate