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Conscious Language

Conscious language, also called inclusive language or intentional language, is about the conscious or intentional choice of words. Rather than being “politically correct” (a loaded term that is almost always used in a denigrating manner and implies someone else is at fault for being overly sensitive or for intentionally misunderstanding something), conscious language centres the concept of care for the audience, and it acknowledges the history and consequence of language on a diverse readership. Conscious language isnt about censoring a writer; its about acknowledging that the words we use have power beyond what we intend, and if we use language that negatively impacts others, we should be using it with intention and awareness.

In short, the purpose of conscious language is to ensure language choices are intentionally made.

 

Any manuscript or document can benefit from a conscious language assessment. Everyone has unconscious biases, and English is rife with language and tropes that can be unintentionally harmful. Actively choosing to avoid this language is an invisible labour: most of the time, a reader wont be aware that certain words or phrases are missing or have been replaced. But the presence of this language can jar a reader out of a narrative and can even affect the readers willingness to finish a piece and their acceptance of a writers ideas.

The concepts and language that are addressed in conscious language assessments include problematic language and stereotypes surrounding the following things:

  • age

  • body size

  • disability

  • education

  • ethnicity

  • food

  • gender expression

  • gender identity

  • migration status

  • race

  • religion

  • sexual orientation

  • socioeconomic status

A conscious language assessment is not a traditional edit. No changes are made to the text; instead, relevant passages and suggested alternatives are noted in comments and in an editorial report, and it is left to the writer to decide whether or not they wish to make any changes.

 

This service is automatically included in all copy edits, but it can also be requested on its own.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune,
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