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Is the term 'oriental' offensive/racist?

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    It's not offensive in the UK, but it might be offensive in the US/Canada. My Canadian friend was surprised and mildly offended when I used the word 'Oriental' (we are both of Chinese descent) and she said it sounded "so old fashioned...like a word for describing a rug e.g. oriental rug"

    In the US, they tend to call Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc "Asian", whereas they call people who look brow "Indian".

    In the UK, "Asian" usually refers to brown people and one might say "Oriental" to refer to yellow people
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    I thought it was a porn category
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    not if you are british... i hate calling oriental people asian, even if they are from asia, because it's so american.... asian people to me are indian/pakistani etc.
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    As has been said by others, in North America it is not the thing. It's certanly not there properly offensive but is perhaps of a piece with calling black people 'colored'. It suggests a person's vocabulary as stuck in the 1950s.

    'East Asian' for yellow people and 'South Asian' for brown. Why not?
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    (Original post by Bellissima)
    not if you are british... i hate calling oriental people asian, even if they are from asia, because it's so american.... asian people to me are indian/pakistani etc.
    Me too! I went to a school where like everyone was 'Asian' (Indian/Pakistani) so whenever someone asked if I was Asian I'd say yes but i had to elaborate just to make sure they didn't think I was south asian :L
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    erm .......... I don't what to say so here's a picture I made in Paint and then uploaded to imgur.




    I think it's quite appropriate.
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    Think of pretty much anything, literally anything, and i guarantee you that somebody, somewhere will be offended by it.
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    (Original post by Mr Smurf)
    No. :facepalm:
    White people, good or bad?
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    (Original post by 344302)
    It was a old white woman that asked her about her ethnicity on the bus, not me.
    Why would she have anything against my skin colour? Do you even know what my skin colour is like? I could pass for being fully Asian mate. She is definitely not a racist - she has a mixed race boyf mate and black friends.
    You are probably purple, orientals hate purple people.
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    Sounds exotic
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    (Original post by 344302)
    Why is it offensive in America?
    It's not.

    I'm an Asian living in America, and though you'd hear the term 'Asian' more than 'oriental' here, I wouldn't be offended hearing the latter.
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    No.
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    (Original post by 344302)
    I was hanging out with some East Asian friends. Someone asked one of the girls of she was 'oriental' because she doesn't look it. She gave them a weird look as said I'm Asian. I asked her what happened and she started ranting about how offensive it is etc.

    I'm half Thai and half Somali so people are always questioning my ethnicity but I didn't know 'oriental' could be offensive. I say it quite a lot myself because when I say Asian people often assume I'm south Asian - that's probably because I grew up in a place where everyone was south Asian.
    That's a nice mix

    I never thought it was offensive, and Wikipedia agrees: 'in British English, the term Oriental is not considered pejorative or offensive'. Apparently it's offensive in Canada, though, and iffy in America... Maybe your friend has somehow picked up on that? Or maybe she's just more sensitive than most...
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    Chinese people call us 'occidental', so I think we're cool.
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    If someone would use a certain word as part of an eclectic sounding business name, it surely can't be offensive.

    I don't see any shops or businesses called "Paki Lunch" or "Paki Accountancy Services" no surprise - as it's accepted as being offensive.

    I do see businesses called "Oriental Palace" or "Oriental Food Services". It's pretty much a certainty the proprietors will be east asian. I don't see how it can be a problem.
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    (Original post by Absinth)
    Reminds me of the time someone at work said: "I was talking to a Chinese woman the other day", looked at me, and quickly said "sorry, I beg your pardon, I meant oriental!"

    Now I am confused. Is "Chinese" meant to be racist now? :eek:
    Its best not to say Chinese unless you know they are definitely Chinese because how do you know they are Chinese...could be japanese, vietnamese... etc etc, if you get what I'm saying.
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    (Original post by Absinth)
    Reminds me of the time someone at work said: "I was talking to a Chinese woman the other day", looked at me, and quickly said "sorry, I beg your pardon, I meant oriental!"

    Now I am confused. Is "Chinese" meant to be racist now? :eek:
    She probably didn't actually know that the woman was Chinese but just said 'Chinese' as a generalisation, then realised her mistake and said Oriental instead. Simples.

    Edit- curse you, FunkeyMunkey!
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    My family is Chinese. They are from the Orient. Ergo we are Oriental. I wouldn't have ever thought someone offensive for calling us Oriental. We are! In fact I'd call us Oriental before I'd say Asian. But I'd usually say Chinese!
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    (Original post by Absinth)
    Thing is, they were actually Chinese lol.
    Oh, haha. Well maybe she's one of those people who's so scared of being branded racist that they're extra extra sensitive around racial issues? I think it's called benevolent prejudice or something like that.
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    It's a tough one really - I don't think it's technically the right term, however, when people in the UK say "Asian" what thay're generally referring to is "Middle Eastern"... e.g. if you were to say "You know, the Asian guy in our class." to someone, they probably wouldn't think of someone from the far east at all. Best just to go with the actual country, I suppose, if you know where exactly they're from.

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