Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
People with disabilities, and those who suffered under the practice of forced adoptions, are two very different groups of people, however both have been marginalised by society, both in action and in the language used to talk about them. Even though both the renaming of NDIS to DisabilityCare and Abbott’s use of “relinquish” and “birth-parents” may not have been intentionally offensive, when a group of people have suffered so much the least we can do is give them the right to choose the way we talk about these topics.
Linguist Lauren Gawne on how the marginalised in society can be disempowered by language choices.