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#1
Old 12-02-2005, 05:49 PM
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Which is more politically correct - "Asian" or "Oriental"?

Our dog has a thing about some men - specifically she hates Japanese, Chinese, Korean men - might be the dark hair, we're not sure. So I would say that she hates "Asian" men. A friend would say the dog hates "Oriental" men.

Is one term more p/c than the other? I would hate to be offending anyone ...

Thank you,
S.
#2
Old 12-02-2005, 05:51 PM
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Use Asian. There is nothing technically wrong with "Oriental" - it just means eastern, but it is considered a bit racist these days. Just like there's nothing technically wrong with "Negro" but you wouldn't use it.
#3
Old 12-02-2005, 05:53 PM
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These days Oriental tends to be used for objects, Asian for people. I personally wouldn't like Oriental one bit.
#4
Old 12-02-2005, 05:54 PM
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"Oriental" is definitely considered offensive. "Asian" is better, but usually the new standard is to call someone by their specific ethnicity (that is, if you don't just call them by their NAME). Are you or your dog King of the Hill fans by any chance?
#5
Old 12-02-2005, 05:59 PM
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Then, it further depends on what part of the world you're in. In the UK, people of Indian ethnicity are referred to as 'Asian', which sounded odd at first to my Australian ears - although it is actually correct. I don't know how it goes in North America.
#6
Old 12-02-2005, 06:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLoadedDog
Then, it further depends on what part of the world you're in. In the UK, people of Indian ethnicity are referred to as 'Asian', which sounded odd at first to my Australian ears - although it is actually correct. I don't know how it goes in North America.
We may be Asian, but the Asians themselves don't want us! Let's be South Asian, or better yet, Indian.
#7
Old 12-02-2005, 06:04 PM
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These days some people get offended with Asian. So to be totally PC, use Asian Pacific Islander or Asian Pacific American if you're not sure.

Don't use Oriental when referring to people, it's pretty offensive.
#8
Old 12-02-2005, 06:07 PM
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My wife is not offended by the term "Oriental" but she says it's perceived as archaic and colonialistic -- and somewhat patronizing. She would prefer to be called "Japanese-American" if she must be called anything, but will settle for "Asian."

And of course, in the U.S. we can't call the Indians, Indians because we'd get them all confused with the American Indians, who would prefer to be called "Native Americans."
#9
Old 12-02-2005, 06:08 PM
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Yeah, the first time I heard that, my mind went "WTF?" - I'd been taught that the Indian people are not the same "race" as the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Mongolians, SE Asians, etc. I always thought of them as the same "race" as me (a whitey from Nordic descent). I just call Indian people..."Indian." I was even more confused when I heard that some (ignorant) people consider Indian people...black.

Oh, well. I'm not out to insult anyone, at least not on the basis of their skin color, ethnic group, etc. When I heard that "Oriental" was offensive, I stopped using it.
#10
Old 12-02-2005, 06:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
My wife is not offended by the term "Oriental" but she says it's perceived as archaic and colonialistic -- and somewhat patronizing. She would prefer to be called "Japanese-American" if she must be called anything, but will settle for "Asian."

And of course, in the U.S. we can't call the Indians, Indians because we'd get them all confused with the American Indians, who would prefer to be called "Native Americans."
Nope, latest info is that they now find that term patronizing, and prefer to be called by their tribe name; if that name is not known, then they prefer just "Indian." Yes, it's confusing. But does it matter whether you can tell which one people mean - really?
#11
Old 12-02-2005, 06:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YaWanna
Nope, latest info is that they now find that term patronizing, and prefer to be called by their tribe name; if that name is not known, then they prefer just "Indian." Yes, it's confusing. But does it matter whether you can tell which one people mean - really?
Well...kind of...if you're one of those people. I mean, I've had many the case where I've told someone "I'm Indian" and they've said, "Oh really? What tribe?"

I've gotten used to saying E. Indian. Mostly.
#12
Old 12-02-2005, 06:17 PM
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I don't consider being called Oriental offensive. Being of Okinawan ancestry, I dislike being called Asian, more .
#13
Old 12-02-2005, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Anaamika
Well...kind of...if you're one of those people. I mean, I've had many the case where I've told someone "I'm Indian" and they've said, "Oh really? What tribe?"

I've gotten used to saying E. Indian. Mostly.
I guess what I was trying to say is, should it matter in terms of how the person is regarded. I didn't mean to trivialize your (or anyone's) ethnicity.

It must be beer-thirty by now...
#14
Old 12-02-2005, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
She would prefer to be called "Japanese-American" if she must be called anything, but will settle for "Asian."
The trouble with identifying their country of origin is that you have to be able to differentiate between the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc. I certainly can't, so I use Asian if I need to describe someone's race. Better, I think, than using "Chinese" as a catchall.
#15
Old 12-02-2005, 08:14 PM
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Jesus! I think correcting your racist dog is a thousand times more important than figuring out the PC way to describe its brand of racism! If this isn't a textbook example of something or other...
#16
Old 12-02-2005, 08:53 PM
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Just don't do a Morty Seinfeld: "I know this Chinaman . . ."
#17
Old 12-02-2005, 09:19 PM
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Asian is less specific, since not all Asians are Orientals. The latter term is indeed considered offensive by some though, for reasons that I consider to be ridiculous.
#18
Old 12-02-2005, 09:36 PM
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Oriental's racist now! It's the word I use, as asian seems rather unspecific (as others have noted it can mean Indian or even Pakistani).

I mean come on, person from the orient=oriental. I can't imagine what else you'd call someone to specify that they're from the orient.
#19
Old 12-02-2005, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malodorous
Oriental's racist now! It's the word I use, as asian seems rather unspecific (as others have noted it can mean Indian or even Pakistani).

I mean come on, person from the orient=oriental. I can't imagine what else you'd call someone to specify that they're from the orient.
'South-East Asian' is what most of the South-East Asians I know use.
#20
Old 12-02-2005, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malodorous
Oriental's racist now! It's the word I use, as asian seems rather unspecific (as others have noted it can mean Indian or even Pakistani).

I mean come on, person from the orient=oriental. I can't imagine what else you'd call someone to specify that they're from the orient.
My wife sympathizes with you and says you can refer to her as "east Asian" should it ever come up.

By the way, she's not from the Orient. She's from Cleveland.
#21
Old 12-03-2005, 12:02 AM
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Oriental sounds archaic to my ears; we don't call Europeans "Occidentals." I'd always say Asian. (And yes, if I know that someone is specifically Korean- or Japanese-American, I'd say that, but it's not easy to tell.)

It threw me for a loop the first couple times I heard Brits referring to Indians as Asians; I'd call them just Indians or (if I wasn't sure) South Asians.
#22
Old 12-03-2005, 01:21 AM
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I'm fine with Asians. Eh.
#23
Old 12-03-2005, 09:11 AM
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There's no reason Oriental should be considered racist. As a word. I wouldn't have a problem being called Occidental. But, it has aquired a whole lot of historical baggage. Involving the mysterious, the bizzarre, the exotic, the inscrutable.

Particuarly the exotic.

And I don't think it's ridiculous to want to avoid that "exotic" shite, particulatly if you're from Cleveland. So Asian makes more sense to me, as it's at least more neutral.

(As for Indians being Asian, well yes, technically, but more importantly they are part of the big happy Indo-European language group. And isn't that what really matters? Isn't that really how we should classify people? Shouldn't all Indians, Africans, Europeans, come together and recognizes their common humanity...and gang up on the Hungarians?)
#24
Old 12-03-2005, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betenoir
(As for Indians being Asian, well yes, technically, but more importantly they are part of the big happy Indo-European language group. And isn't that what really matters? Isn't that really how we should classify people? Shouldn't all Indians, Africans, Europeans, come together and recognizes their common humanity...and gang up on the Hungarians?)
<snif> That's right: Increase the peace. Decrease the Hungarians. And don't forget the Finns.
#25
Old 12-03-2005, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betenoir
. So Asian makes more sense to me, as it's at least more neutral.

As for Indians being Asian, well yes, technically, but more importantly they are part of the big happy Indo-European language group.
About 25% of them are not .

- Tamerlane
#26
Old 12-03-2005, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by kunilou
By the way, she's not from the Orient. She's from Cleveland.
Even worse, then.
#27
Old 12-03-2005, 01:16 PM
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In my experience, I've found that people who use the term "Oriental" tend to be racist or have some other serious flaw. I'm sure there are well-meaning, nice people who use it that way, I've just never met any. Futhermore, most of my asian friends don't like it, saying that a thing is oriental, a person is asian.
#28
Old 12-03-2005, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane
About 25% of them are not .

- Tamerlane

Well then they have no place in our Happy Family. They'll just have to be weeded out and shipped off the the camps...I mean relocation centers...in Hungary. And Finland. After all, we need Sprechensraum.

Er, sorry, seem to have drifted off topic. Please subscribe to my newsletter.


#29
Old 12-03-2005, 04:28 PM
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According to my wife (Chinese) using the term "Oriental" is like referring to black people as "Colored". While not racist, quite out of date and indicative that the user is probably clueless. She gets a bit miffed when she hears the term.

What really gets her going is the way people tend to lump all Asians together, as if they are one big homogenous ethnic group. She hates the term "Asian-American". She is Chinese-Canadian!
#30
Old 12-03-2005, 05:25 PM
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When, roughly, did "oriental" become incorrect/archaic/offensive/whatever? I was first corrected against using it in the middle or late 1990's.

Does anybody track this stuff? It seems a rich field of study for linguists. Who first began taking offense at the use of previously neutral word, and how did this spread to others? I guess it must have started with a small group or individual, surely every person of Eastern descent didn't just wake up one morning and coincidentally start taking offense at the word. Or was it always considered offensive and somehow I missed that until the 1990s?
#31
Old 12-03-2005, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revtim
Who first began taking offense at the use of previously neutral word, and how did this spread to others?
But as I said, it doesn't seem to me it was a neutral word. It had a lot of associates (exotic, inscrutable...carpets) that I could see Asians wanting to get away from.

Lord knows changing the language doesn't mean changing the reality...at least, it's not that easy. But in this case I think it kinda made sense.
#32
Old 12-03-2005, 06:25 PM
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there are many threads on this. long story short, oriental was originally a colonial word, and inherently neutral to negative. a lot of people from Asia in the US perfer to be addressed as asian rather than oriental. more preferably by their actual ethnic group. for example, you want to make my wife happy you call her shanghaiese or even better ningboese. miss manners would say call people by their preferred form of address.

in hawaii, my understanding is they don't get their panties in a twist over oriental versus asian

in the uk and many commonwealth countries, asian tends to refer to the indian sub continent, while oriental to east asia.

i think the only true pan-asian identifiers in asia itself is pop culture like mtv or jacky chan.

in one of the old threads there is a link to a group in berkeley in the sixties that formally launched the use of asian to replace oriental.

some pc types really get heated over this. i've noticed in the past decade or so that two catch phrases have entered the logical arguements. 'oriental is like n*gger.' we can all think of or have heard derogatory terms for asians that are far far worse.

second is 'oriental is a rug.' And swiss is chees - you gotta point?
#33
Old 12-03-2005, 09:39 PM
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Based on what my Indian (from India) friends call themselves, they prefer the term 'brown'.
#34
Old 12-03-2005, 10:37 PM
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Oriental just has so many negative connotations, as has already been mentioned: exotic spices, submissive women, crazy carpets... (heh). Although I never really minded the term until I started studying literary theory in univeristy. Said's Orientalism is an interesting read, if you're really into the subject.

If I had to choose, I'd rather be called Asian. Or Korean-American. :: shrug :: Within Asia itself, it gets a bit tricky - Koreans hate to be mistaken for Chinese or Japanese, although for different reasons, and most East Asians would take offense at being called Southeast Asians, I suppose.
#35
Old 12-03-2005, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betenoir
Shouldn't all Indians, Africans, Europeans, come together and recognizes their common humanity...and gang up on the Hungarians?)
Excuse me. I happen to be Hungarian.

By the way, WE prefer the term "Magyar." Or in my case, Magyar-American. I'm from Chicago.
#36
Old 12-04-2005, 12:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorjän
What really gets her going is the way people tend to lump all Asians together, as if they are one big homogenous ethnic group. She hates the term "Asian-American". She is Chinese-Canadian!
No offense, but really, how does she expect people to know that she's ethnically Chinese? Most people can't tell Chinese from Japanese from Korean, and rather than risk offense by guessing the wrong one, Asian-American is a good alternative. Of course, once they get to know your wife better and are told her heritage, that's a different matter.

The same goes for white people as well. For the vast majority of white people I meet, I can't tell if they're ancestry is German, French, British, Irish, etc. So they're all just "white," until I'm told otherwise.
#37
Old 12-04-2005, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malodorous
Oriental's racist now! It's the word I use, as asian seems rather unspecific (as others have noted it can mean Indian or even Pakistani).
Malodorous, buddy, where've you been?
The term is Asian-American.


kunilow, aren't the Maygars a specific ethnic group in Hungary? I thought the majority were ethnicly German. I maybe I'm thinking about Austria.
#38
Old 12-04-2005, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malodorous
Oriental's racist now! It's the word I use, as asian seems rather unspecific (as others have noted it can mean Indian or even Pakistani).

I mean come on, person from the orient=oriental. I can't imagine what else you'd call someone to specify that they're from the orient.
Asian is unspecific? Where, exactly, is the Orient? Asia is at least a specific continent - the Orient is more of a concept than an actual geographic location.

I understand the term isn't always used in a racist context, but the fact remains that many Asians feel it is insulting. If a certain group feels that a specific term is an insulting way to address them, then maybe the use of said term should be dropped.
#39
Old 12-04-2005, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YaWanna
Nope, latest info is that they now find that term patronizing, and prefer to be called by their tribe name; if that name is not known, then they prefer just "Indian." Yes, it's confusing. But does it matter whether you can tell which one people mean - really?
*sighs*

When I grew up they were called Indians.

Then in high school I learned to call them Native Americans.

Once the new term has finally sunk in, they decide to go back to being Indian.

That's it. I'm making up a new term and using it to refer to everyone, regardless of race. From this day forward, you're all Mumpkin.
#40
Old 12-04-2005, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USCDiver
Based on what my Indian (from India) friends call themselves, they prefer the term 'brown'.
I will concur with this based on my own personal experience.

And my Asian friends (I believe they're all of Chinese descent, though I'm not actually certain) mostly prefer "Asian", although I've heard "yellow".
#41
Old 12-04-2005, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HNC
Asian is unspecific? Where, exactly, is the Orient? Asia is at least a specific continent - the Orient is more of a concept than an actual geographic location.
Yeah, but you see my point. Asia is a specific continenet, but people use the word "asian" to mean someone from a specific part of that continent, hence the confusion. A person from siberia is technically asian, but we don't often use the word like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HNC
I understand the term isn't always used in a racist context, but the fact remains that many Asians feel it is insulting. If a certain group feels that a specific term is an insulting way to address them, then maybe the use of said term should be dropped.
Not really a problem, if people start glaring at me when I use oriental then I'm sure I'll switch to using east asian. My problem is that, unlike words like niggar or spick (sp?) oriental was never ment to be an insult. It seems rather bizarre that a bunch of people would up and decide it's offensive, when the people using it never ment it that way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChinaGuy
there are many threads on this. long story short, oriental was originally a colonial word, and inherently neutral to negative. a lot of people from Asia in the US perfer to be addressed as asian rather than oriental. more preferably by their actual ethnic group. for example, you want to make my wife happy you call her shanghaiese or even better ningboese. miss manners would say call people by their preferred form of address.
When I know someone well enough to actually know what specific country their from, then I'd use that. I usually just use oriental if I need to give someone a quick physical description of the person. If your looking for your wife in a crowd, I'm sure you don't ask if anyone has seen a Ningboese (which I can't even find in the dictionary) women.



Quote:
Originally Posted by kimera
In my experience, I've found that people who use the term "Oriental" tend to be racist or have some other serious flaw.
#42
Old 12-04-2005, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Rodgers01
Asian-American is a good alternative. Of course, once they get to know your wife better and are told her heritage, that's a different matter.
Again the problem is that I don't necessarily know if someone is an Asian-American. In college there were a lot of asians that came to study here, but weren't necessarily Americans. I have the same problem with African-Americans, as there were a lot of Africans who were only there to attend college for a few years, and I felt silly calling them African Americans.
#43
Old 12-04-2005, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kunilou
By the way, she's not from the Orient. She's from Cleveland.
Eh, Cleveland is pretty far east from where I'm sitting.

The department has lots of students from India, China, and Japan, with Indians and Chinese predominating in non-American students. Other countries are represented (Israel, Thailand come to mind) but generally if someone isn't from the US they're from one of the three countries listed above.

And I've never been good at telling the difference between lots of ethnicites and nationalities visually. If I hear the language I can make a better guess, even more so with the written word. If someone tells me their name I can take a shot at their nationality/ethnicity and generally be right.
#44
Old 12-04-2005, 02:31 PM
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I think it depends if the person is born in North America vs. China or Japan or Korea.

My sister in law is Japanese, born, raised, etc - moved to Canada 10 years ago.

When I asked her about the whole "Oriental is offensive" thing she rolled her eyes and told me not to be absurd - it's not in the least bit offensive.

On the other hand, a girlfriend of mine is born in Canada from Chinese parents, and she thinks Oriental is a bit dodgie. However, she also said if the person using it seemed to be using it in a non-offensive way, she wouldn't be bothered.

YMMV and all that.
#45
Old 12-04-2005, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland
I think it depends if the person is born in North America vs. China or Japan or Korea.
Maybe that's it. My gf is from Vietnam, and she wasn't aware oriental was supposed to be offensive, which is why this thread caught me by suprise.

Quote:
However, she also said if the person using it seemed to be using it in a non-offensive way, she wouldn't be bothered.
How do you use it in an offensive way? Again, I've never heard "oriental" used as an insult.
#46
Old 12-04-2005, 07:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malodorous
How do you use it in an offensive way? Again, I've never heard "oriental" used as an insult.
It is rarely used as an overt insult. Certainly nothing as obvious or offensive as words such as nigger or chink. And I agree that those brought up in American culture are more likely to percieve it in a negative light - the US being so PC conscious these past few decades and all.

I'll say this again: the Orient is not a specific geographical location. It is a concept. What countries are included in the Orient? What decides whether or not a country is part of the so-called Orient? Nobody really has a list of specific countries in mind when they use the word Orient. They have a certain image - of chopsticks, of silk robes, of carpets, etc. One of the main reasons that Oriental is considered an offensive term is that it carries with it all these conotations, even if the user is not consciously aware of it. It's like a stereotype, and one that many Asian-Americans are particularly resentful of.

Granted, this "awareness" of Oriental being a negative term is relatively new. I don't feel insulted if the person using the term is not doing it in an offensive way, but I'd rather they didn't, is all.
#47
Old 12-04-2005, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfian
Malodorous, buddy, where've you been?
The term is Asian-American.
Most "Orientals" are not American. In fact, only a miniscule fraction of them are.
#48
Old 12-04-2005, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Wolfian
kunilow, aren't the Maygars a specific ethnic group in Hungary? I thought the majority were ethnicly German. I maybe I'm thinking about Austria.
Actually, they're the specific ethnic group everyone thinks of when they think of "Hungarian." The Magyars were the ones with the original non-Indo-European language and the ones who don't fit into the category of either Slavs or Germans.

As a good guide, take a look at a history book that shows the large chunks of the eastern part of the Austro-Hungarian empire that went to countries like Romania and Poland. See the small blob that's left? That's the Magyars.
#49
Old 02-16-2013, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Stainz View Post
Our dog has a thing about some men - specifically she hates Japanese, Chinese, Korean men - might be the dark hair, we're not sure. So I would say that she hates "Asian" men. A friend would say the dog hates "Oriental" men.

Is one term more p/c than the other? I would hate to be offending anyone ...

Thank you,
S.
While no normal person would want to offend anybody, why would anybody "want" to be a shallow koolaid drinker...er, I mean worship pc foolishness? Now, on to the topic of discussion: I much prefer the term "Oriental" for eastern asians because it merely means eastern, and is far more accurate than citing a huge continent that begins in Istanbul Turkey.

When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher visited South America, and the South Americans were insulted because she, being from the USA referred to herself as being American. They felt, "what are we, chopped liver?" "We are also American!"
How do you think an Indian or a Saudi might feel about this mistake of PC-ism we have made in the USA? There isn't and never was anything wrong with the term "Oriental."

Last edited by NormalDude; 02-16-2013 at 01:25 AM. Reason: spelling
#50
Old 02-16-2013, 01:30 AM
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Originally Posted by TheLoadedDog View Post
Use Asian. There is nothing technically wrong with "Oriental" - it just means eastern, but it is considered a bit racist these days. Just like there's nothing technically wrong with "Negro" but you wouldn't use it.

Tell that to the United Negro College Fund and my PROUDLY Oriental girlfriend.

Words are just words and mature people need to grow up.
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