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Is the term 'oriental' offensive/racist?

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Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
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    Oh for god sake.. tell her to get over herself. I don't understand why she would find that offensive? It's just a word that's meant in a completely non offensive way. I'm fed up of having to tiptoe around all these ridiculous new 'politically incorrect' words. If there's no intent to cause offence then how can a word like that be offensive?
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    (Original post by Bhumbauze)
    however, when people in the UK say "Asian" what thay're generally referring to is "Middle Eastern"
    South Asian you mean.
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    Not really offensive, but a bit old fashioned.
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    I remember reading about this on Yahoo Answers a while back. People were saying that the word "oriental" is supposed to refer to objects from the Far East, not people, and so calling the people "oriental" is seen as a bit strange and impolite by some.
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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.
    :lolwut: I'm British and I've always called and thought of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, and Arab people as Asian, because, erm, they're all from Asia. I thought it was common sense tbh :dontknow:. In fact, the term to describe East Asians as "Oriental" is also quite alien to me. To each their own I guess.

    (Original post by cambio wechsel)
    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?
    Agreed :yep:
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    (Original post by CherryCherryBoomBoom)
    :lolwut: I'm British and I've always called and thought of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, and Arab people as Asian, because, erm, they're all from Asia. I thought it was common sense tbh :dontknow:. In fact, the term to describe East Asians as "Oriental" is also quite alien to me. To each their own I guess.

    yes i do realise they are from asia :rolleyes: there's no need to try and be patronising... i do know basic geography.

    i just wouldn't call them ASIAN... just like i wouldn't really call someone from egypt african even though egypt is in africa... except when describing which continent they come from.

    if i were talking about which CONTINENT they were from then i would describe them as asian... if i were describing like a criminal to the police or pointing them out in a crowd, i would describe an oriental person as oriental.. and indian/pakistani person etc. as asian and an arab as an arab. i wouldn't call them all "asian".
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    (Original post by Bellissima)
    yes i do realise they are from asia :rolleyes: there's no need to try and be patronising... i do know basic geography.

    i just wouldn't call them ASIAN... just like i wouldn't really call someone from egypt african even though egypt is in africa... except when describing which continent they come from.

    if i were talking about which CONTINENT they were from then i would describe them as asian... if i were describing like a criminal to the police or pointing them out in a crowd, i would describe an oriental person as oriental.. and indian/pakistani person etc. as asian and an arab as an arab. i wouldn't call them all "asian".
    Sorry, I didn't mean to sound patronising :o:. I was just questioning because I find some of these terms strange, that's all. I do differentiate between different types of Asians too depending on the situation, just not like that. But OK, no worries.
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    i dont see how it could be it would be like a german/frenchman etc getting offended for being called european ... it simply refers to the geographic location i.e. the orient.
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    I didn't think it was racist :dontknow:
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    (Original post by CherryCherryBoomBoom)
    Sorry, I didn't mean to sound patronising :o:. I was just questioning because I find some of these terms strange, that's all. I do differentiate between different types of Asians too depending on the situation, just not like that. But OK, no worries.
    ok maybe i interpreted it differently to how you meant it
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    Not offensive
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    (Original post by Welsh_insomniac)
    I know people generally refer people from the far east as oriental... but forgive me for my ignorance (and maybe someone can back me up or show me evidence suggesting otherwise...) but weren't those from Persia/Babylonians originally referred to as orientals?

    To the OP: I don't see why it would be offensive.
    Pretty much anything east of Greece used to be called Oriental.
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    'Oriental' used to be an official term for Asian people, seeing that they were people from the 'Orient'. It's out-of-date now though, and it follows the path of many pieces of out-dated academic lingo from being accepted social parlance to being recognised as offensive or derogatory because of the baggage they inherit from associated out-dated worldviews (words such as 'mongoloid', 'retard', etc.).

    A note on offensiveness though, just because a person finds a term offensive doesn't mean it shouldn't be dropped. If it serves a specific purpose (and that purpose is not to offend), then largely speaking I think a person's offence should be ignored. I know that there is a small (or maybe large?) consensus that 'oriental' is somewhat offensive (or at least it is not politically correct), and that's maybe because it is modernly used to refer more to objects rather than people. This Asian friend, she took offence but it didn't seem that the person using the term meant any offence by it, in which case the Asian person's offence is fairly arbitrary. If a person doesn't mean to incite offence, then any offence felt is wholly incidental and so the person would do better to not allow their tranquility to be disturbed so easily, as if it were a house of cards.
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    (Original post by SleepySheep)
    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!
    uh? What did I do...
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    i don't find it's offensive though
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    Your friend is such an idiot. :facepalm:
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    (Original post by Bellissima)
    yes i do realise they are from asia :rolleyes: there's no need to try and be patronising... i do know basic geography.

    i just wouldn't call them ASIAN... just like i wouldn't really call someone from egypt african even though egypt is in africa... except when describing which continent they come from.

    if i were talking about which CONTINENT they were from then i would describe them as asian... if i were describing like a criminal to the police or pointing them out in a crowd, i would describe an oriental person as oriental.. and indian/pakistani person etc. as asian and an arab as an arab. i wouldn't call them all "asian".
    Why wouldnt you call an egyptian, iraqi african?
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    Well I use my (half) oriental ethnicity to my advantage with chat-up lines

    e.g. Do you want a taste of the Oriental?
    Want a ride on the Orient Express?
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    I think she'd be even more offended if she was referred to as Chinese. Apparently everyone with 'Oriental' looking eyes is Chinese to some. "Oh yeah that Chinese looking girl. " it's pretty common.

    I think East Asian is more politically correct but I'm not so sure.
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    (Original post by I-Am-A-Tripod)
    Why wouldnt you call an egyptian, iraqi african?
    i would if i were describing their continent... but otherwise, just by looking, i wouldn't be able to tell they were from africa because most african countries have people of black skin... they are not arabs... whereas countries like egypt and morocco are arab countries and they look similar to people from the middle east, rather than africa. i am not saying they AREN'T african... but i am saying that if there were a group of people and there was an egyptian in it and i was pointing him out, i would say "the arab" rather than "the african"...

    i wouldn't call an iraqi african at all because iraq isn't even in africa...

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Updated: February 19, 2012
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