METM10 presentation     Thread: Knowledge Updates

The use and abuse of sensitive language – a case-based knowledge update

Sarah Griffin-Mason – Portsmouth, UK

As a follow up to the session: -˜Sensitive language: How correct is correct enough?' run at METM09, this session builds on the premise that sensitive language is a necessary element in increasingly globalised and democratised knowledge cultures, especially in medical and related fields.

-˜Sensitive' or -˜inclusive' language attempts to ensure that due respect is paid the people discussed as the subjects of texts in terms of sex and gender, race and ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation.

This update looks in greater detail at how medical journals have handled (and occasionally mishandled) this requirement. It includes a swift review of the principles behind the use of sensitive language, as provided in the leading style guides (AMA, APA, CSE). It examines a varied collection of attempts to deal with the issue in examples taken from leading publications and then widens the view to compare medical usage with that common in quality journalism. Participants will be given the opportunity to discuss a selection of extracts and thereby refine their own knowledge and practice with such language.


Sarah Griffin-Mason BA Hons MA MITI is a freelance Spanish to English translator and editor, MFL and translation teacher currently working for UNICEF-TACRO, Actas Dermosifiliográficas, Portsmouth City Council and the University of Portsmouth. She trained and worked as an in-house Transeditor with the InterPress Service in Montevideo, Uruguay through the 1990s and for the last 6 years has worked from home in Portsmouth, UK, where she lives with her husband and daughter.


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