25 Pages

“Let’s Get Back to English”

Language and Word Games People Play
WithJohn Leo

Wishing to employ the correct modern term for disabled, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers set up a “Committee for Members with Special Needs.” It didn’t work. A homeless person came by, announcing a special need for housing. Then it became the “Committee for Members Who Are Physically Challenged,” but a frightened fifth-grade teacher showed up, thinking it was a support group for instructors intimidated by their unruly students. So now it is known as the “Committee for Disabled Members.” “Everybody understands the words and nobody protested,” said James Gallagher of the committee, satisfied at last.