Is calling someone Oriental a bad thing?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Mem, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. Mem

    Mem
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    I don't think so. It just says that they are Asian from the Orient as opposed to other parts of Asia.

    The argument was that Oriental is a carpet and not a person.

    Now Iranians want to be called Persian and that is a carpet too.

    I do understand that it is politically incorrect to use the word Oriental to describe a person, but I don't see how it is offensive.
     
  2. B_Swimming Lad

    B_Swimming Lad New Member

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    I use "oriental" as a denomination of Asian. It just distinguishes from other asian peoples.
     
  3. DaveyR

    DaveyR Retired Moderator
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    Like most PC bullshit it is only offensive if you intend malice with the context in which or how you say it.
     
  4. Industrialsize

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    Oriental is Not PC........asian is the preferred moniker
     
  5. IntoxicatingToxin

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    I've always just said Asian. That's mostly just because I'm not entirely sure which countries make up the Orient. But in a way, calling some Oriental is like calling someone Midwestern, instead of American. I don't see how it's offensive, but it just seems weird to me.
     
  6. ledroit

    ledroit New Member

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    "Oriental" (ie, towards the east, or the "orient") as a reference works only if you imagine you are at the center of the world, so that everything is either east or west of where you live. If you live in China, the US is "oriental" or towards the east.

    It's not a matter of being offensive to anyone. It's a matter of shifting your reference point. In a global age, it makes more sense simply to refer to the continent of Asia. Dismissing things like this as "PC" is just lame.
     
  7. Mana

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    I never found it offensive, and I am not exactly sure why it should be considered that...

    On my birth certificate, it lists my mom as Oriental! But yet again, I come from Eastern NC, so the people here aren't exactly the brighest of the bunch. :biggrin1:
     
  8. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    It's the hypenating that gets my goat. Eventually I expect I'll be referred to as a Virginian-American or a former Texan-American.
     
  9. Not_Punny

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    I'm sorry mem -- I know I should be serious about something like this, but I got a good laugh from your post. A bit of a WTF, isn't it?!

    But seriously speaking, I can actually see logic in it.

    "Persia" was an actual COUNTRY, and people USED to be called Persian because they hailed from that country (which is roughly where Iran is today).

    On the other hand, there isn't a country/continent called "Oriental" -- the word originally (and generally) refers to a direction (East). There never was a country or land mass by the name of "Orient."

    - - - - -

    Taking this to the extreme, would we Americans want to be referred to by anything other than our land mass (America)?

    Well, how about referring to some OTHER mass we are becoming famous for... how about "Faticans" or "Obesientals" ?? :biggrin1::biggrin1::biggrin1:

    (This last section is a JOKE and isn't meant to offend anyone :wink: )
     
  10. Mem

    Mem
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    For a second I thought you were a Virgin-American.:wink:
     
  11. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Not far from it. :tongue:
     
  12. Guy-jin

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    It mostly depends where you are in America, but generally speaking, "Oriental" is an offensive term, especially when used as a noun.

    It's basically the equivalent of calling an African American a "colored."

    In some parts of the country, both of those terms are acceptable to a certain extant ("Oriental" is still sometimes passable in the Northeast, while "colored" is apparently still in light use in the South).

    It's offensive because of the time it came from and how inaccurate it is.

    That's kind of a funny statement and may exemplify why you're so confused about its connotations.

    In reality, "The Orient" was considered Asia as a whole, so it makes no sense to define East Asians specifically as "Oriental". Moreover, it's sourced from a time of European Imperialism, when Europeans were trouncing Asia and taking advantage of Asians (meaning Indians, Pacific Islanders, Chinese, etc.) in general because of their inferior military technology.

    Regardless of the reasons, it isn't that hard to use the word "Asian" instead.

    I've never understood why some people are incapable of simply maintaining a level of politeness towards others. If someone doesn't want to be called something, I see no harm in abstaining from calling him or her that. It's irrational to go out of one's way to use terms that are offensive to that person, regardless of whether or not one is ignorant of why the term is offensive.

    Also, Persians have been asking to be called Persian as opposed to Iranian for decades. It isn't a new thing. They'd rather be identified with the nation it once was, not the nation it currently is, and I can certainly understand that.
     
  13. Mem

    Mem
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    If someone does not know someone you can't what they want to be called. Recently at work we had to find someone at the airport and they described themselves as "Oriental".

    I think people who are ashamed or embarrassed to be called Iranian want to call themselves Persian.

    According to your philosophy Egyptians will want to be called Mesopotamians.

    Which reminds me:

    Turn your watch, turn your watch back,
    About a hundred thousand years
    A hundred thousand years.

    I'll meet you by the third pyramid
    I'll meet you by the third pyramid
    Ah come on, that's what I want, we'll meet
    In Mesopotamia, oh oh oh

    (We're goin' down to meet) I ain't no student
    (Feel those vibrations) Of ancient culture
    (I know a neat excavation) Before I talk
    I should read a book.
    But there's one thing I do know,
    There's a lot of ruins in Mesopotamia.

    Six or eight thousand years ago
    They laid down the law. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haa..
    Six or eight thousand years ago
    They laid down the law. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haa..

    I'll meet you by the third pyramid.
    I'll meet you by the third pyramid.
    Ah come on, that's what I want, we'll meet
    In Mesopotamia, oh oh oh



     
  14. Guy-jin

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    Your last statement doesn't make sense.

    I tried to explain it to you. I thought you were looking for a real answer as opposed to just someone you could argue with. My mistake. Carry on with being ignorant and impolite towards others, I guess.
     
  15. B_inthamood

    B_inthamood New Member

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    Actually, the reasons "Oriental" is sort of an off-limits word have to do with... a lot of history. But my sense is that it's kind of up there with "colored" as a term that would rub the people being referred to the wrong way-- it's not the "N-word" but it's really kinda uncool and unwelcome.

    If you're really, really in the mood for a good but intellectually demanding read on the subject, check out Edward Said's "Orientalism", a history of how the idea of the Orient came about for the British empire...

    "East Asian" is a good term if you are looking to say "Japan/Korea/Phillipines/Malaysia/Vietnamese" but not "Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan". "South Asian" covers those...
     
  16. SteveHd

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    From Merriam-Webster:
    ... sometimes offensive : ASIAN; especially : one who is a native of east Asia or is of east Asian descent ...
    I never thought of it as offensive until someone [a non-Asian] stopped me in mid-sentence to mention it. I think it's PC gone berserk.

    The opposite Orient is Occident. So if an someone in the Americas is offended by being called "American," perhaps he could call himself an "Occidental". :biggrin1:
     
  17. Mem

    Mem
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    The next thing we will have to call fat people horizontally challenged, or Appetite-Addicted Americans.
     
  18. snoozan

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    QFE.

    This is a very good explanation and I thank you for taking the time to write it.

    In my opinion, if people from Asia en masse prefer to be called Asian because of the historical connotations, I have no problem obliging them.
     
  19. T-Lex

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    I don't quite remember where I heard it (years ago), but someone told me once that things can be Oriental, but people are Asian. Not sure of the validity of that statement, but it stuck with me, so I always use the term "Asian."
     
  20. B_Swimming Lad

    B_Swimming Lad New Member

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    Well in my opinion the orient only includes China, Japan, Tibet, Bhutan etc. The middle eastern nations of Oman, Iran, Iraq etc I would consider Arab states.
     
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