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An interesting choice of words

So, Apple posted a teaser for the new version of OS X yesterday, and in amongst the goodies was the following image. Note the name of the user.

I'm quite surprised that there hasn't been a larger reaction to this (but this may just be my own prejudices*). So, to the poll!

Poll #1819593 Apple marketing

Is "Spazbert":

A cute-sounding username?
Derived from a pejorative term for the cerebral palsied?

Apple is a US-based company. Therefore, when marketing overseas they should:

Aim not to use locally offensive terms.
Use whatever language they want because they're goddamned Americans.
Use whatever language they want because they're goddamned Apple.
Use only brightly-coloured shapes.

Who cares, everyone speaks American English now

Quite the reverse, actually.

You're thinking too hard about this.


* two of my cousins are CP

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Definitely a thinkingaboutitfail moment there.

That's kind of the problem, from a UK perspective - try and stop using a name that's then been given some negative connotations and the kids will just move on and borrow that too, hence 'scopers'. The US case in particular for this happened to go the other way, and spastic was adopted as a synonym for mad(non-clinical)/mental(non-clinical)/scarycool/rad(not-actually-that-divergent); I don't know how current 'spastic' is as a medical term in the US but I suspect it was also replaced a long time ago, but the spazz wheelchair seems to suggest only that it's a cool, funky chair.

Mostly it's a case for not accepting that a term used to describe you should become exclusively a negative thing. Pretty much every insult to describe people as randomly incapable derives from terms for specific disabilities.

the hatter

That's deeply insensitive of them.

"Never attribute to malice anything that can adequately be explained by incompetence"

Yes, but from such a media-savvy corporation as Apple, this is quite surprising.

I don't think this is a UK vs US English thing - pretty sure the word has the same origin in the US. Of course it may be that many people don't know that that is the origin, but one would hope that a large corporation would carefully research that kind of thing. Incidentally, I have heard it used on the Simpsons as well, which was slightly unexpected (South Park less unexpected).

Indeed! I'd realised that I'd omitted you about an hour after I'd posted; in my defence, both of my cousins' conditions are rather more severe than yours. :/

Yeah. I get what you mean. The point is, I should think nobody liked just being associated with a label, because basically, it's the person who comes first. Or should. Not an anachronistic word with derogatory connotations. Thoughtless people.

Complete agreement here.

Companies exist to run these things past to find out if a word is offensive in any well-known language. That said, I can see it slipping past as being only part of the word... I presume it's 100% accidental.

I was watching an old episode of Buffy the other day, and either Willow or Buffy used the word 'spaz' - I was a bit gobstruck. I think they've used it in Community, but that's a very different type of a show which uses loaded terminology deliberately and observantly...

Anyway, yes, very odd judgement to use it...

It's almost as if a UK company chose the username IHateFaggots with a picture of Brain's finest. (although I note that OFCOM slapped Morrison's wrist (p.10) for an alleged joke along similar lines).

Well, there was Tiger Woods' "spaz" moment a few years ago, so it's not like there's no precedent in the US.

I don't think it's malicious on Apple's part (I suspect it's not their intention to bring attention to how hilarious they think the disabled are), but it deserves to be criticised and the decision on their part to change it is entirely correct.

Edited at 2012-02-18 06:33 pm (UTC)

Maybe I missed it entirely, but I'd never seen that word (in a malicious or otherwise context) before! I'm in two minds - it's obviously offensive to people who've encountered the usage, but it seems odd to block a word for eternity, when a better usage might replace the old.

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