Thursday, October 8

Are you Oriental or Asian?

According to the Language Monitor the term "Oriental" is considered "offensive to Asians because it's based on the geographic relationship of Asia from a Western perspective." However, "in Europe (and in most Asian nations)... Oriental is acceptable. The Chinese are most pleased to be from the East."

What say ye Asian/Oriental-types? What doest thou prefer and why? Why is there apparently a difference in perspective between those in Europe/Asia and those in North America?

I have no agenda in asking -- just curious. I'm pretty much happy to refer to people using the terms they prefer -- pretty much.

If you leave a comment (and I hope you will) please say where you're from.


xuefen said...

I am oriental. I have not known the term "Oriental is considered "offensive to Asians." Therefore, if I hear someone to say me oriental, I would feel pleased.

kdebruyn said...

While I was attending UCLA about 9 years ago, I was informed that both "Oriental" and "Asian" were insensitive and non-PC terms (nearly half the student body at the time was of Asian descent). According to those who decide such things, it is most appropriate to use specific terms like Korean-American, etc. To use a term like "Asian" apparently implies that all people from Asia are the same and do not need to be differentiated. However, my friends of Asian descent generally referred to themselves as "Asian."

Brad Boydston said...

Kyle's and Mei's responses illustrate the point. Mei is from China and is pleased to be called an Oriental. Kyle is reflecting on his experience at UCLA with second and third generation immigrants from Asia. And they self designate as Asian. They'd be offended if they were called Orientals.

Rick said...

That makes sense Brad, since as second generation, they, like you and myself, are occidental, as opposed to oriental.

I, like you, tend towards using the term the other individual prefers to se for himself or herself. Inwardly though, I bristle when the term is hyphenated American. I am most aware of it when talking to someone who identifies as african-american. I have african american friends who are white - that is, they were born in africa and have emmigrated to America. But most of the people I meet who use the term are dark skinned American-born people who have never set foot on African soil.