Why is "Oriental" politically incorrect?

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Leo Bueno:
A friend admonished me a few weeks ago when I totally innocently referred to her sister in law as "Oriental". She, with impeccable politeness, corrected me and pointed out that the current acceptable term to refer to folk from Asian countries is "Asian". Don't know in what cocoon I was in, but I missed that trend.

Just wondering why it is incorrect or offensive to refer to folk from Asia as "Oriental". And while we are at it, when did this become the politically correct usage?


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dimestore:
Because carpets are oriental, not people. That's what I was told about 15 years ago. I don't even use Oriental to describe food or art anymore. It pretty much sounds like "negro" to my ears now.
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david56:
Leo Bueno typed thus:
[nq:1]A friend admonished me a few weeks ago when I totally innocently referred to her sister in law as "Oriental". She, with ... to folk from Asia as "Oriental". And while we are at it, when did this become the politically correct usage?[/nq]
"Oriental" (literally meaning, of course, "Eastern") is unexceptional in the UK, where in any case "Asian" means Indian, Pakistani, etc, and definitely not Chinese.

David
==
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Professor Redwine:
[nq:1]A friend admonished me a few weeks ago when I totally innocently referred to her sister in law as "Oriental". She, with ... to folk from Asia as "Oriental". And while we are at it, when did this become the politically correct usage?[/nq]
What? No way, Senor Feliciano. Oriental, as I understand it, is usually reserved for those from the Far East - and is completely acceptable as an adjective. Perhaps as a noun it may be non-PC, but even then I think it would depend to a large extent on the way in which it was used. I hope you are right.

Redwine
Hamburg
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M.C.:
[nq:1]"Oriental" (literally meaning, of course, "Eastern") is unexceptional in the UK, where in any case "Asian" means Indian, Pakistani, etc, and definitely not Chinese.[/nq]
Which seems odd to me, because China seems no less, and possibly more in Asia than Pakistan and India from my point of view.

In any event, the rationale (?) behind the political incorrectness of "oriental" is as reported, I believe. It applies to inanimate objects such as rugs and is therefore deemed insulting to people.

However, I know a number of Asians in Canada who routinely refer to themselves as oriental, and not in any ironic or exclusive way that compares to the use of *** by some erm... bla-... Afro... persons of.. ah... well you know what I mean.
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Professor Redwine:
[nq:2]"Oriental" (literally meaning, of course, "Eastern") is unexceptional in the UK, where in any case "Asian" means Indian, Pakistani, etc, and definitely not Chinese.[/nq]
[nq:1]Which seems odd to me, because China seems no less, and possibly more in Asia than Pakistan and India from ... is as reported, I believe. It applies to inanimate objects such as rugs and is therefore deemed insulting to people.[/nq]
Does the phrase "English breakfast tea" thus preclude referring to a person as being English?
Does the phrase "European wasp" preclude referring to a person as being European?
I agree wholeheartedly with your question mark, M.C.
Redwine
Hamburg
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david56:
Professor Redwine typed thus:
[nq:2]A friend admonished me a few weeks ago when I totally ... at it, when did this become the politically correct usage?[/nq]
[nq:1]What? No way, Senor Feliciano. Oriental, as I understand it, is usually reserved for those from the Far East - ... it would depend to a large extent on the way in which it was used. I hope you are right.[/nq]
US English speakers do indeed use "Asian" for "Chinese" - it's a bit disconcerting when you first encounter it.

David
==
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M.C.:
[nq:1]US English speakers do indeed use "Asian" for "Chinese" - it's a bit disconcerting when you first encounter it.[/nq]
I'll take your word for it, but China is surely indisputably in Asia.
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Peter Duncanson:
[nq:2]"Oriental" (literally meaning, of course, "Eastern") is unexceptional in the UK, where in any case "Asian" means Indian, Pakistani, etc, and definitely not Chinese.[/nq]
[nq:1]Which seems odd to me, because China seems no less, and possibly more in Asia than Pakistan and India from my point of view.[/nq]
That might be so in terms of geography.
When India became independent it split into two, then three, separate sovereign countries - India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Before this, immigrants to the UK from imperial India were naturally called Indians. When that country split into three there was a problem. There was a need to fit another non-offensive single term to refer to them as a group. The term, Asian (or South Asian) was adopted.
And yes - this can be confusing to someone who is unaware of the limited use of the term. Think of it as being vaguely similar to the use of the term American to refer to only some of the inhabitants of the Americas.

Peter Duncanson
UK
(posting from a.e.u)
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