Dirty Words

Last week I poked fun at a school in Hong Kong that gave a vocabulary test to its 9th graders that most native English speakers would not do well on. I surely did not. Just a few days later, the Trump administration gave an edict to its agencies to not use certain words in next year’s budget. The forbidden terms are: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based. ForbiddenWord(No, these are not swear words, although I can say a few now about this strange and unprecedented order.)

Back to my concern of foreign kids learning English, I wonder if the examiners for Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) are all evangelicals who are members of the Trump cult, and therefore will voluntarily avoid using them in the exam. They probably are not. Funny enough, now that these seven words have stood out in front of the whole nation all of a sudden, I think it may be a good idea to know them for exam purposes.

Here’s a word to high schoolers, both domestic and foreign. Despite my subtle dig at the don of the white mansion, these words are commonly used in formal writing as well in casual conversations, so they are quite useful and worth knowing. Kids, you need to learn them. Those extra points may just get you into an ivy league school in the US.

1. Vulnerable: easily hurt
2. Entitlement: a right
3. Diversity: the state of having different types
4. Transgender: a transsexual or transvestite person
5. Fetus: an unborn human or animal
6. Evidence-based: not a real word, but a contraction of the verb phrase “based on evidence”
7. Science-based: not a real word, but a contraction of the verb phrase “based on science”

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