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in brief: apple’s lousy dictionary defines ‘gay’ as ‘stupid’

A teenager from Massachusetts recently discovered on her MacBook that Apple had defined the word “gay” as ‘foolish, stupid or unimpressive’.

Stating that she was ‘in disbelief’, Becca Gormon immediately sent an email to Apple chief executive Tim Cook, who is openly gay and frequently lobbies for equal work rights for homosexuals.

While the entry is under the heading “informal”, Miss Gorman said in her letter, ‘This definition normalises the terrible derogatory twist that many people put on the word “gay”’. For other users of MacBooks, the word “gay” doesn’t even have an entry, and The Daily Dot found the offensive definition still exists in different Mac product versions.

Apple has expressed their shock at the discovery, but it appears that there is a need for an update of their official dictionaries. An Apple spokesperson told Miss Gorman: ‘It’s hard to track the dictionaries they’re getting sources from’.

Apple’s CEO has previously urged updates to U.S. employment laws to stop the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

In a piece for the Wall Street Journal, Cook urged ‘protections that promote equality and diversity should not be conditional on someone’s sexual orientation’.

Given that Cook is such a prominent gay rights advocate, we can only hope that Apple can rid all of their products of the offensive definition.

One thought on “in brief: apple’s lousy dictionary defines ‘gay’ as ‘stupid’

  1. I’m reminded of the attempted publicity campaign a few years ago by McDonald’s in the UK to change the Oxford dictionary definition of ‘McJob’ from ‘lousy low-paid job’ to something more like ‘positive, fun job’ and ‘great joyous experience of happy fun times’. Pretty dumb because the function of a dictionary is always to record the accepted meanings of words; and McDonald’s couldn’t do anything about that.

    In this case we have a political campaign to change another dictionary definition. Different dictionary, and a far less reliable than Oxford – but again the function of the dictionary would seem to be, basically, to record accepted meanings of words. And allowing a political campaign to decide what is accepted would seem every bit as dangerous as allowing a publicity campaign to decide what is accepted. Politics should not decide what language people use, I argue.

    (I saw on facebook friends discussing the meaning of the word ‘gay’ and the politics around it and they noted a related point – that once people start using a word in a certain way, especially teens, you can’t really get hold of it again. Each generation decides on their own language, though the generations that come before them may not like the results.)

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