On the term “Chinese Whispers”
Just a quick one here — I used this term in my previous post and was surprised to see Xian question it — it’s a term that is the standard term for that game in the UK, but is apparently not in use in the US.
Another friend has since told me that she believes that the term has racist connotations/origins, and that this is why it is no longer used in the US.
I can believe this to an extent, because what is considered acceptable in British English is different from US English — to take an appropriate example, the term “Oriental” is considered racist in the US, but not in the UK (in the UK “Asian” is usually used to refer to people from the Indian subcontinent, who make up a far greater proportion of the population over here than in the US, so another term is needed). I try, when writing on the internet where one can expect an international audience, to say “East Asian” on the very rare occasions I need to use a distinguishing term, to avoid needlessly using terms that some would consider racist.
Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to discover anything to confirm one way or another if the term Chinese Whispers has a racist origin — although it certainly wouldn’t surprise me — so I am loath to use it in future. The problem is, though, that the term is the standard one in British English for a useful concept, and I can’t think of a sensible replacement. “Telephone game” would cause confusion to British readers, and I’ve also never seen it used colloquially in the same way (which is not to say it isn’t used that way, just that I’ve never seen it).
So does anyone have any suggestions as to what term might be suitable in its place?