The Associated Press Says It's 'Dehumanizing' to Use 'the' in Descriptions — Such as 'the French'

Paul Sakuma
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Are you among the group of Americans who use the word “the”? Are you part of the people who employ it in the act of description? If so, you’ve been told to stop — by The AP.


The Associated Press Stylebook has long been considered an authority on ways in which to format the printed word. Many media outlets conform to its standards, and the latest one is quite a stunner.

From the AP Stylebook Thursday:

We recommend avoiding general and often dehumanizing “the” labels such as “the poor,” “the mentally ill,” “the French,” “the disabled,” “the college-educated.” Instead, use wording such as “people with mental illnesses.” And use these descriptions only when clearly relevant.

It seems a tall order, given that language uses words and “the” is a word with a meaning and use — the exact kind of meaning and use that would result in phrases such as “the French.”

Then again, words and their liberal application aren’t what they used to be:

Utah Public University’s ‘Inclusive Style Guide’ Forbids Students to Say ‘Biologically Male/Female’

Host of School’s Free Speech Event Issues Language Guide Prohibiting ‘Man,’ ‘Woman,’ and ‘Mother’

Breastfeeding Academy Bails on ‘Breasts’

Fish Fry: Social Justice Sizzles With the Woke Renaming of a Racism-Riddled Carp

Legal Journal Publishes Plea for Hate Speech Laws Protecting Animals

Woke in the Water: Shark Advocates Call for an End to the Word ‘Attacks’ in Favor of ‘Interactions’

As of late, The AP — self-billed as “The Definitive Source” — has been making major moves. In 2020, it announced a racial revamp:


Why We Will Lowercase ‘White’

AP style will continue to lowercase the term ‘’white’’ in racial, ethnic and cultural senses. This decision follows our move last month to capitalize Black in such uses. That includes the shared experience of discrimination due solely to the color of one’s skin. There is, at this time, less support for capitalizing white. White people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.

In 2021, it stood up for women:

Don’t use the term “mistress” for a woman who is in a long-term sexual relationship, and is financially supported by, a man who is married to someone else. Instead, use an alternative like “companion,” “friend” or “lover” on first reference and provide additional details later.

And last July, it trimmed the fat from a trending phrase as part of its “Topical Guide” for transgender coverage:

A person’s sex and gender are usually assigned at birth by parents or attendants and can turn out to be inaccurate. Experts say gender is a spectrum, not a binary structure consisting of only men and women, that can vary among societies and can change over time.

According to The AP, writers should use “woman” rather “transgender woman.”

Two months earlier, the organization declared that “phrasing like ‘pregnant people’ or ‘people who seek an abortion’ seeks to include people who have those experiences but do not identify as women, such as some transgender men and some nonbinary people.”


After including the marginalized, it’s now marginalizing “the” — as in “the poor,” “the French,” and “the marginalized.”

As for fixing America’s French faux pas, however, The AP appears to have backtracked. In the wake of online mockery such as “People experiencing Frenchness,” it deleted its initial tweet and removed “the French” as an example.

As for the others, it appears those dictates are still in effect.

So don’t use “the” to name things; so orders The Associated Press.



See more content from me:

‘Whiteness’ Expert Helps Caucasians Cancel Their ‘Inner Becky’ and Shoulder Blame for Each Other

Harvard Medical School’s Transgender Care Course Affirms Fans of BDSM, ‘Kink’ and Infidelity

Government-Funded Study Asks if White Paint’s Prominence Prompted Worldwide Wicked Whiteness

Find all my RedState work here.

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