People-first language  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

People-first language is a type of linguistic prescription in English. It aims to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities and is sometimes referred to as a type of disability etiquette. People-first language can also be applied to any group that is defined by a condition rather than as a people: for example, "those that are homeless" rather than "the homeless."

The basic idea is to use a sentence structure that names the person first and the condition second, for example "people with disabilities" rather than "disabled people" or "disabled", in order to emphasize that "they are people first". Because English syntax normally places adjectives before nouns, it becomes necessary to insert relative clauses, replacing, e.g., "asthmatic person" with "a person who has asthma." Furthermore, the use of to be is deprecated in favor of using to have.

By using such a sentence structure, the speaker articulates the idea of a disability as a secondary attribute, not a characteristic of a person's identity. Critics of this rationale point out that separating the "person" from the "trait" implies that the trait is inherently bad or "less than", and thus dehumanizes people with disabilities.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "People-first language" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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