LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “Nappy-headed hos,” the phrase that cost radio shock jock Don Imus his job and triggered a debate on how far free speech can go, was named on Thursday as the most egregious politically incorrect turn of phrase in 2007.
Trailing behind that phrase in the annual survey by Global Language Monitor (www.LanguageMonitor.com), a word usage group, were “Ho-Ho-Ho” and “Carbon Footprint Stomping,” said the group’s president Paul JJ Payack.
“Ho-Ho-Ho” made the list after a staffing company in Sydney, Australia suggested to prospective Santas they drop their traditional greeting in favor of “Ha-Ha-Ha” so as not to invoke images of the derogatory slang term for women.
“Carbon Footprint Stomping” is a phrase used to describe flaunting environmentally “green” activities by doing things like driving gas-guzzling Hummers and flying private jets, which in these energy-conscious times might be considered the height of political incorrectness.
New York-based Imus was fired from his popular morning radio program by CBS in April 2007 after a national controversy erupted over his use of the “Nappy-headed” phrase to describe the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Imus later apologized and met with the team to ask for forgiveness.
Last November, he was hired by a different network.
“It is no surprise that ‘Nappy-headed hos’ was selected as the top politically incorrect word or phrase for 2007,” said Payack. “A year later that phrase is still ricocheting about the Internet, even affecting Christmas-season Santas in Australia “
Among other examples on the list are:
“Fire-breathing Dragon” — Children’s book author Lindsey Gardiner was asked to eliminate a fire-breathing dragon from her new book because publishers feared they could be sued under health and safety regulations.
“Wucha dun did now?” — The subtitle of a “Ghetto Handbook” distributed by a Houston school district police officer to enable readers to speak “as if you just came out of the ‘hood.”
“Gypsy skirt” — The colorful layered skirt was given a new name, “Traveler Skirt,” since police in Cornwall, a county in southwest England, believed the term “Gypsy Skirt” might be considered offensive to Gypsies.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Todd Eastham