When we’re writing an index we try to reflect the intent of the author with our phrasing of the index entries. Since much of my indexing is technical and factual I had not thought much about biased language in index writing. Usually….
However, on at least on indexing project I really did have to give it serious consideration because I found myself reacting very negatively to the author’s position. That made writing the index entries quite difficult for me. It made me think seriously about what projects that I might (or might not) accept for reasons of my own biases.
Then there are the instances where “political correctness” can intrude on entry writing. True, we need to reflect the author’s content accurately, but where are the resources to help you avoid phrasing that can be perceived as negative, or that will reflect the wide audience that might be using your index? How do I know what is the current usage of some politically correct terms?
Fortunately, as an indexer, I deal with material that has been conscientiously edited before I see it so those issues have already (likely) been addressed but I was interested in a link posted on copyediting.com on style guides for bias-free language which lead eventually to the Conscious Style Guide.
If you have questions about age, disability, and other considerations of our evolving language I think some of the articles there can be quite helpful. There are style guides addressing topics like ability and disability, and medical topics such as AIDS and HIV. I’ve added this website to my list of handy-to-have resources. These guides may not provide a definitive answer to my questions, but it certainly increases my awareness of the issues.
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