Bias and Discriminatory Language

To effectively persuade people of the justification of our position, it is not a good idea to deliberately or inadvertently insult them.   Good communication should not contain slurs about race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.  This type of language can destroy our credibility in a moment, rendering the point of our communication meaningless to the listener or reader even if the listener or reader were not a member of the offended group.

There is also a logical error in attributing bad characteristics on an individual because he or she is a member of a group.  Such stereotyping and discriminatory language presumes that all members of a group have a particular characteristic which simply is not factual.  It also is against the basic notion that people should be judged for themselves and not their genetic ancestry or place of birth.  These remarks can be insulting even when they are not meant to be.

“Old people just can’t drive!”

An old person could take offense and might think in response, “Young people just can’t drive.”

We all have our biases, and sometimes they slip out in ways that surprise us.  Here’s an example about a comment made by a woman making an appointment for the first time in a doctor’s office.

“Does he happen to be in today?”

The receptionist replied, “No, she’s not in today.”

The woman had presumed the doctor was a male.


Clichés are words or expressions that are so over-used, they make the writing seem boring.  Expressions such as asleep at the wheel, any port in a storm, and good as gold send a signal to the reader that there is nothing new or of interest in the writing.


Inappropriate repetition can occur within a sentence and within a paper.

Within a sentence, repetition can occur with words that mean the same thing.

Repetitive: The female actress starred in the lead role in the hit movie, Avatar.

The word actress refers to a female actor; it is, therefore, unnecessary to use the word female. Also, to star means to take a lead role, so this is also unnecessary.

Corrected: The actress starred in the hit movie, Avatar.

Within a paper, repetition can be of the same words or the same points expressed in different word.

Repetitive: The biggest concern about the proliferation of garbage in our landfills is the seeping of toxic waste into our water supply through the ground.  Toxic waste can seep through the ground and to into our water supply.  The water we drink can then be adversely affected by toxic waste from landfills.

CorrectedThe biggest concern about the proliferation of garbage in our landfills is the seeping of toxic waste into our water supply through the ground.


Wordiness is the problem where more words than necessary are used to express a thought since such sentences can be difficult to follow.

Good writing is concise.  Fewer words are better to make the point clearly.

Wordy: In this article, it says that global warming is a natural occurrence which would happen whether or not humans put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

CorrectedThis article says that global warming is natural and not a result of human activity.

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