Can you believe it? The word “colonial” is still being bandied about without a care in the world on HGTV’s “House Hunters” despite the word’s close association with the exploitation of colonized cultures around the globe for hundreds of years.
The word comes up time and time again on “House Hunters” as prospective buyers on a search for their “forever” homes blithely apply the term when they talk about the home styles they prefer.
Other styles popular on the show include “craftsman,” “ranch,” “Cape Cod,” “new build” and others.
But “colonial”? Shame on you, “House Hunters.” Applying this word to real estate might be seen by some as trivializing the suffering of others.
Taking the thinking even further, it might also be seen as a virtual endorsement of the practice of subjugating and, in time, altering or wiping out native cultures.
Not only that, but the architectural style itself, as it relates to the 18th century before American independence, is associated with the colonial era generally and is seen by some as a reference to the era’s “colonizing” of other people who might not have appreciated being colonized.
In case you couldn’t tell, the outrage expressed above is feigned, with all due respect to those who do possess a sensitivity to words such as “colonial.”
The TV Blog has no problem with the word’s use to describe a particular kind of house “built in the neoclassical style of the American colonial period,” as my dictionary defines it (Merriam-Webster College Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, published in 2005).
To my knowledge, the term “colonial house” has not yet been outed by the word police, but give them time.
Regular watchers of “House Hunters” are well aware that the term “master bedroom” has been thrown out with yesterday’s bath water. The phrase has been replaced by “main bedroom” or “primary bedroom.”
The thinking seems to be that for some, the words “master bedroom” conjure up images of slave masters -- or “masters” and authority figures in general -- residing in regal bedrooms in plantation mansions where they were served by the enslaved.
For all I know, the phrase “master bedroom” did indeed originate in the antebellum South. But I also suspect that in the selling of houses to middle-class Americans in the 20th century, the phrase was applied to appeal to prospective buyers.
Maybe they liked the ring of “master bedroom” and “master of the house” because they were proud of their ability to afford their own homes. It should go without saying, but these people owned no slaves.
Or to put it another way, Ralph Kramden famously declared that he was “king of the castle,” but the only person who took umbrage at that was his wife, Alice. And she won, as usual.
The other day, someone told me how she used the phrase “pregnant women” in a piece of writing and an editor asked her to change it to “pregnant people.” I won’t even go into why this strikes me as absurd. Perhaps others feel the same way.
With the elimination of gender-specific words and identifiers in mind, we come to another oft-used word on “House Hunters” -- “craftsman” (italics added).
On the HGTV home shows, and in movies, TV shows and commercials, the craftsman bungalow-style house has long been positioned as perhaps the ultimate dream home for millions.
The style’s popularity is not likely to ebb if the phrase undergoes an alteration to “craftspeople house,” although the phrase does not have quite the same ring as “craftsman house.”
And again, as far as I know, no one has yet targeted “craftsman” for banishment from the English language. In addition, I believe that “ranch,” “Cape Cod” and “new build” are safe, at least for now.
Absurd. We shouldn't be giving the "word police" oxygen by even talking about it.
Amen Adam I don't like the word police screw them.