George Carlin, a master wordsmith, often scoffed at the language he called “American English.” A favorite and frequent target was euphemisms: limp or indirect words substituted for words that blunt the hard edge of truth. “American English is loaded with euphemisms,” Carlin complained. “Americans have a lot of trouble dealing wEu stoneith reality. Because they have trouble facing the truth, they invent a soft language to protect themselves—and it gets worse with every generation.” Enter the most recent treatise, the Bias-Free Language Guide from the University of New Hampshire (UNH). If Carlin were still alive, he would likely accuse the UNH of “using language that takes the life out of life.”

“A formerly stupid individual is now minimally exceptional,” Carlin grumbled during an HBO special. (Reminder: This program is for adults.) “An ugly person is now an individual with severe appearance deficits. Medical malpractice is a therapeutic misadventure. Handicapped means differently abled—or handicapable, although to change the name of a condition does not change the condition. The partially blind are partially impaired—or partially sighted. Poor persons used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing.” The Orange County Register missed the UNH lesson on biased-free and inclusive language this week, reporting, “Half the students [at Palm Lane Elementary School] come from poor [emphasis added] families.”

According to the UNH, it seeks “to build an inclusive learning community, and the first step toward our goal is an awareness of any bias in our daily language. We offer this guide as a way to promote discussion and to facilitate creative and accurate expression. The guide presents practical revisions in our common usage that can make a difference and break barriers relating to diversity. The guide serves as a starting point about words related to age, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, gender, ability, and sexual orientation.”

Efforts to decrease bias in language are not new. The American Psychological Association (APA), for example, first modified its publication guidelines during the 1970s, directing authors to “avoid perpetuating demeaning attitudes and biased assumptions about people in their writing,” particularly when discussing age, gender, sexual orientation, [and] racial or ethnic groups.” The APA urged the use of phrases such as amnesic patients, gay men, and older adults when describing persons with disabilities. The American Philosophical Association and other professional organizations soon acted similarly.

Building upon APA style, the UNH guide strives to create a flaccid, vapid, and less colorful English. The terms old and older person are out. I am now a person of advanced age. Neither am I poor anymore. I am a person who lacks advantages that others have, low economic status related to my education, occupation and income. The UNH now requires me to use 18 words when 1 word, poor, is enough. I cannot be homeless because I am a person experiencing homelessness. (In fact, I would be houseless, not homeless.) I am not normal; I am non-disabled or a person without a disability, although last year I might have been psychotic, a person with a mental health condition. I can never be rich, although some day I might be a person of material wealth. But thanks to the UNH, I am no longer fat or obese—but a person of size. So I can still be a judge: I’ve got a lot to put on the bench.

Carlin would argue that the euphemisms endorsed by the UNH constitute the latest attempt, but not the final effort, “to sterilize the American language” and create “bloodless, lifeless words and phrases to hide the truth.” I agree. It’s fine to call me “old and fat.” Just don’t call me late for dinner.