04 Mar 2015

Sweden Changing Racist Names of Birds

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Herons

The Washington Post reports the latest case of European PC insanity.

Bird watching has long been a popular and seemingly harmless weekend activity in Sweden. Its innocence, however, came to an abrupt end when many of the country’s bird lovers were suddenly confronted with allegations of racism.

For centuries, it has now been revealed, the Swedish had given birds some names that now could be considered offensive to certain groups. One species, for instance, was called “gypsy bird,” whereas another was named “negro.” The insult “caffer,” which was used by white against blacks in South Africa, also resembled a Swedish bird species called “kaffer.” There were other offensive bird names in Sweden, such as “Hottentot” — apparently inspired by the name of the language of an indigenous southwest Africandem Changi tribe called Khoikhoi, yet also a derogatory term for that tribe.

Despite the prominence of bird watching among Swedes, the existence of these names and others like them had sparked little outrage and publicity until recently. When Sweden’s Ornithological Society completed its first-ever global list of all 10,709 Swedish bird names two weeks ago, the organization also announced some awkward name changes.

In the process of categorizing the names, staffers had raised concerns over some that had a potentially offensive nature. As a result, several of them have now been changed: “negro” bird, for instance, will now be called “black” bird. “When working on the list, it became obvious that some older names no longer were appropriate,” Anders Wirdheim, Communications Officer at the Swedish Ornithological Society told The Washington Post.

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