Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Sara L. Sanders
In this study, I examined 30 intermediate level English-as-a-second-language textbooks published in the 1980s and 1990s for evidence of language or content change induced by the political correctness movement. I looked for any indication of the influence of political correctness, whether in the language of the directions, the vocabulary being taught, the pictures provided, the chapter contents, or, if the text was a collection of stories; the subject matter and authors of the stories included. I found a general attempt at nonsexist language, whether with gender-inclusive or gender-neutral nouns and pronouns, in all of the texts. In fact, seven texts devoted whole chapters or large sections to the subject of sexism or the changing role of women in America. As far as other social areas of PC change, one text was found to include terms for the "needy" or people with physical disabilities, three texts provided PC vocabulary for issues of ageism, and three prescribed PC terms for issues of weight. No texts were found to contain any other area of politically correct change, such as racism or heterocentrism. In conclusion, I determined that political correctness is gradually changing the English language as seen in intermediate ESL textbooks. International students are learning our American culture as they learn our language because the two aspects of America are so interrelated. How we view ourselves affects the language we use, and, to some conscious or unconscious extent, our language influences how we view ourselves.
Hucks, Martha E., "The Impact of Culture on Language: A Look at Changes in ESL Textbooks" (1999). Honors Theses. 226.