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French charity using the 'H word'

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2005

In The Guardian today there's an interesting story about a French-based international disability charity that's been criticised by disability activists in the UK for choosing to use the same name over here as they do over there - Handicap International.

On this side of the Channel, of course, 'handicapped' is seen as an offensive and outdated term (number 9 in Ouch's Worst Word Vote, fact fans), but in France there's no word for 'disabled', and so they took on the dreaded H word when it came to naming the charity.

We're keen to hear your views on this. Is it a case of language differences between two cultures, which we should accept? Or should the charity seek to fit in with our terminology and change its name? Let us know in the comments.


  • 1.
  • At 12:00 AM on 08 Jun 2005, Justin R wrote:

oh, don't talk to me about the H word. Always hated that with a passion! Yes, the name should, and can, be changed. I'm sort of surprised the French haven't managed to come up with a different word meaning disability. With such a smooth sounding language they've got, I'm sure they could've come up with a word that sounds even better than the word disabled. We've got some grotty sounding words over here and the French have made them sound vertually poetic!

  • 2.
  • At 12:00 AM on 08 Jun 2005, Katie Fraser wrote:

I think the charity should change it's name as the h-word is not politically correct and is offensive. I hate the way society sticks labels on disabled people to describe them. I am a caring, compassionate disability rights campaigner you see!!

  • 3.
  • At 12:00 AM on 08 Jun 2005, Michelle wrote:

The H word makes me shudder. BUT having spent the best part of my life studying French, I know there is no alternative. Maybe some gentle persuasion might be in order, but people should bear in mind it's a language thing!

  • 4.
  • At 12:00 AM on 09 Jun 2005, Henley Kiosk wrote:

Sorry, but the French have adopted hamburger and numerous other words that are not French, so why not disabled? There is no excuse - handicap is extremely offensive. Stop using it. Make a stand. What is the problem with that organisation? The whole of Europe should adopt disabled and the social model. All of us should be campaigning for it.

  • 5.
  • At 12:00 AM on 09 Jun 2005, M wrote:

Sadly it is a good terminology to extract the pity pound out of the public, and no doubt some focus group advised them how best to maximise their fund raising in the UK as they chase after a piece of the 7 billion pounds given each year by the public.

  • 6.
  • At 12:00 AM on 09 Jun 2005, Liz wrote:

Surely any name change would be expensive and time consuming - time and money better spent on the charity's actual work, helping people.

  • 7.
  • At 12:00 AM on 09 Jun 2005, Alison F wrote:

Since the word 'handicapped' comes from the merging of three English words, it would not have the same negative connotations in France. We should let it be. We can't force our values on other countries;

  • 8.
  • At 12:00 AM on 10 Jun 2005, Turtle wrote:

I don't know how they'd pronounce 'disabled' though, to be honest, but that's beside the point. Why aren't their native activists and academics doing something about it? it seems a bit - dare i say it - patronising to enforce our interpretation. I remember having to say it when i did French A-level and it made my skin crawl. PS: are you in the Henley Kiosk or do you just have an unusual name?!

  • 9.
  • At 10:01 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Betty wrote:

Taylor has a home in the Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay that he bought two years ago. The 24-year-old player is in HjJrFiZwfKpezK his fourth season with the Redskins after playing at the University of Miami, where he was an All-American in 2003

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