CDC Issues Language Guidelines For Speaking And Writing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued its assault on the English language with its new guide for how health professionals and the general public should speak and write.

Highlighted on its website labeled “Preferred Terms for Select Population Groups and Communities,” the guidance extends to hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical institutions, schools and universities, and others.

The list of examples is enormous.

Drug users, addicts, and abusers are now to be referred to as “persons who use drugs/people who inject drugs.” “Alcoholics/abusers” are instead “persons with alcohol use disorder.”

When speaking of people who relapsed, they should now be called “persons who returned to use.” It would be interesting to see the reasoning behind this remarkable change.

“Smokers” is even disallowed and replaced by “people who smoke.” Those who are addicted or relapse are victims of a disease and should not be stigmatized.

Despite just emerging from the pandemic, the agency apparently has much time on its hands. Ironically, the CDC itself trademarked the phrase “Tips From Former Smokers.”

Recommendations for language adjustments from the CDC are far-reaching and have been trickling down for many months. One set of guidelines covered “Corrections and Detentions” and urged “inmate,” “criminal,” and “prisoner” be simplified to “people/persons.”

Other categories targeted for language improvement included “Disability,” “Homelessness,” “Healthcare Access and Access to Services and Resources,” “Lower Socioeconomic Status,” “Rural,” Race and Ethnicity,” and “Orientation and Gender Identity.”

The CDC guide determined that such terms are “vague and imply that the condition is inherent to the group.” This ignores, the agency claimed, the “actual causal factors.”

Readers are encouraged to avoid “dehumanizing language” and replace it with “first-person” terms. All effort must be exerted to “determine if the language used could potentially lead to negative assumptions, stereotyping, stigmatization, or blame.”

It is doubtless that the CDC has more on its plate than sifting through the language to find different ways to address everyday terms. In the wake of lockdowns, school closings, and mass vaccinations, the agency now turned its attention to approving the usage of the English language.