‘Racist Sounding’ Bird Names Banned in Sweden
“We decided to change the names of any birds that could have stirred up a debate”
The names of several different birds have been banned by Sweden’s Ornithological Society over fears that they sound too racist.
According to Swedish news site The Local, the ban and ensuing name changes came about after the society finished compiling its first complete list of bird types.
“We haven’t had an official list of what all the birds in the world are called in Swedish until now, we just had an unofficial list put together about 10 years ago,” Swedish Ornithological Society member Anders Wirdheim said. “We decided to compile a list and while we were doing that we decided to change the names of any birds that could have stirred up a debate.”
All bird names containing the word “neger” (negro), such as the negerfinken, have now been changed to instead use “svart,” the Swedish word for “black.”
A species of duck known as the “Hottentott” has been changed due to the word’s apparent derogatory usage against the “Khoikhoi” tribe in South Africa.
The “kaffer” bird, known as the “swift” in English, was also changed as not to sound similar to a term used in South Africa as well, causing the “white-rumped swift” to becomes the “vitgumpseglare.”
Even words that could be translated to sound questionable in other languages were banned and altered, such as the “Zigenarfågel” or the “gypsy bird.”
According to reports, debate thus far over the subject has been minimal, with some people appearing to tweet pictures of Swedish birds in protest.
While some see the change as a needed adjustment, others feel the incident once again represents out-of-control political correctness.
A similar incident unfolded in the United States in late 2013 when public affairs officers in Seattle, Washington, demanded the words “brown bag” and “citizens” be banned from all governmental use.
Elliott Bronstein of the Office for Civil Rights in Seattle argued that “brown bag,” a term referring to city meetings in which participants brought a lunch from home, could be offensive to black Americans.
Police in the United Kingdom banned the words “blacklist” and “whitelist” in 2012 as well over fears that law enforcement could be accused of racism.