Learning and understanding Harvardspeak can be a difficult and frustrating experience for the uninitiated. To help newcomers become well-adjusted as quickly as possible we offer the following lexicon of Harvard terms, with their translations in standard American English.
ultra-conservative (noun or adj): conservative.
conservative (noun or adj): moderate.
moderate (noun or adj): liberal.
liberal (noun or adj): leftist.
leftist (noun or adj): Communist.
Communist (noun or adj): Label unfairly used by right-wingers to refer to leftists. Otherwise, does not exist.
racist (adj): tending to question Affirmative Action.
homophobic (adj): deviating from acceptable points of view on homosexuality.
sexist (adj): follows "racist" and "homophobic" in any given sentence.
women's rights (noun plural): Abortion.
reproductive rights (noun plural): Abortion.
right to privacy (noun): Abortion.
reproductive freedom (noun): Abortion.
sexual responsibility (noun): Contraception.
gay rights (noun plural): Any demand made by homosexuals.
sexual orientation (noun): Homosexuality.
sexual preference (noun, Slang): Homosexuality, used by those who are not as enlightened as they could be (See "enlightened")
discrimination (noun): the act of withholding special benefits and attention from a minority.
minority (noun): Any PC group that can claim it is oppressed.
oppressed (adj): the state of holding PC status while not receiving enough special benefits and attention.
enough (adj): Never.
Truth (noun): Does not exist.
Relativism (noun): Does not exist. If it did exist, it would be the belief that there is no Truth. But it does not exist.
Relativism (noun): It really doesn't exist. Really. So don't talk about it.
ethnocentric (adj): Refusing to believe in relativism (See "Relativism").
bigoted (adj): Adhering to a wrong opinion or belief so obstinately as to be unable to be persuaded of its wrongness.
smug (adj): Demonstrating an unwillingness to submit to people who are better than you are.
Diversity (noun): a Very, Very, Good Thing.
openness (noun): see "Diversity."
Good Thing (noun): 1. A song by Fine Young Cannibals. 2. A thing that all Good People can agree is good.
Good People (noun plural): You already know who they are. If you don't, you're probably not one of them, and it doesn't matter anyway.
Politically Correct [PC] (noun or adj): 1. label given to the acceptable point of view on any subject. 2. label given to an opinion which is held by those people who hold the right opinions (See also: "Good People).
Politically Incorrect [PI also known as "Politically Wrong," PW] (noun or adj): 1. label given to a view or opinion which is outside the realm of tolerable thinking (See "Thought Police"). 2. Not PC. 3. Unenlightened. 4. Just plain wrong. 5. And Bad, too.
Socially Incorrect [SI] (adj): demonstrating unrepentance while holding Politically Incorrect opinions.
open-mindied (adj): 1. possessing a willingness to consider all Politically Correct points of view. 2. having enough self-control to refrain from reading, listening to, or considering anything which might be called close-minded (See "close-minded").
enlightened (adj, Rare): having reached a state of perfectly raised consciousness. 2. (More Common) being able to come up with a Politically Correct buzzword to fit any situation or discussion.
tolerant (adj): 1. (Archaic) being willing to put up with those who are disagreeable, or who hold a point of view one finds unacceptable. 2. (Common) accepting the Politically Correct view on a given subject.
respectful (adj): 1. (Archaic) according dignity, worth, and value to others, especially to those one finds disagreeable. 2. (Common) supportive of others who hold the Politically Correct point of view.
respectful (adj, Common): being careful to avoid any appearance of disagreeing with those who are PC or hold the Politically Correct point of view.
discerning (adj): realizing how self-evidently unimportant and worthless non-PC ideas and people are.
educated (adj): being able to make even slightly sophisticated arguments for a Politically Correct point of view.
intellectual (adj): (Rare) being able to convince others, through use of rational discourse, of the Politically Correct point of view.
brave (adj): being unable to convince others of the Politically Correct point of view or action through the use of rational discourse, and therefore doing it by means of a sit-in.
radical (adj) 1. (approbatory) tending to support the dismantling of mainstream traditional values and customs. 2. (pejorative) tending to buck PC opinion in trying to preserve mainstream traditional values and customs.
traditional (adj): anything done by people more than thirty years ago.
traditionalist (noun): someone who thinks that customs or values more than thirty years old are acceptable.
ignorant (adj) holding Politically Incorrect points of view on one or more important subjects.
close-minded (adj): demonstrating a reluctance to allow others to cure you of your ignorance.
obstinate (adj): even when they are better than you are.
dogmatic (adj): rationalizing your obstinance.
religious (adj) 1. tending to believe in a religion (Synonyms: bigoted, dogmatic, intolerant, superstitious, ignorant)
loudmouth (noun): a person holding Politically Incorrect points of view who writes them down.
from the September 1990 issue of Peninsula of Harvard
posted by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, 1998