When watching the news, the difference between the important and the absurd is harder to distinguish. Ideas ridiculed a couple of years ago are now taken seriously. No one could, for example, imagine eliminating police forces from crime-ridden cities. Now, several cities are seriously considering such proposals.
No More Master Bedrooms
This change of ideas is especially seen in language. In light of the current unrest, some organizations of real estate agents have decided to eliminate the use of the term “master bedroom.” The proposed substitute is “primary bedroom.”
According to Yahoo! Life, “master” has uncomfortable connections to the era when slaveholding was legal.
“The English language is filled with these references, and many people don’t even think twice about where they came from or what they mean,” says Kristen Syrett, presidential term chair in experimental linguistics at Rutgers University. “But what happens is that the language we speak, having had those influences in it, implicitly influences the way we think about people.”
One Word, Many Uses
Complicating the leftist language-cleansing mania is a refusal to look at the facts. The term master has a long history that dates much farther back than the Project 1619 narrative, so beloved of The New York Times. The Online Etymology Dictionary traces it back to the Latin noun “magister” meaning “chief, head, director, teacher.” It is related to the Old English “magester” (a man having control or authority over a place; a teacher or tutor of children), as well as the French “maître,” the Spanish and Italian “maestro,” the Portuguese “mestre,” the Dutch “meester,” and the German “meister.”
Such linguistic cleansing of master and its derivatives could wreak havoc in the lives of many liberals. Will the maître d’ remain a fixture of fine French restaurants? Must the Metropolitan dispose of their collection of old masters? Can leftist tipplers succumb to the wisdom of abandoning the drink, Jägermeister? Should Ivy League universities cease offering Master’s degrees? The implications are endless.
There are far more workaday uses of the soon-to-be-forbidden term. Every school has a master schedule. The enforcers of code ordinances follow a master plan. Rugby players obey the instructions of the scrub master. Users of PowerPoint determine the overall look of their presentations on the master slide. Master electricians and plumbers stand at the heights of their crafts. School custodians carry master keys to enter the rooms they clean. Masters train their students in the martial arts of Judo, Karate, and Kung Fu.
Agency? Hive? Primary?
Efforts to eliminate the word is not limited to real estate. Software companies want to replace the use of “master/slave” used by programmers to describe the relationship between one dominant machine that assigns tasks to another subservient machine. According to The Server Side, other combinations under consideration include agency/operatives, hive/drones, and primary/replica.
The article bemoans, “the challenge with adopting new terminology is to find a word that properly conveys the function it describes. Primary and replica are reasonable terms to describe distributed databases, but they aren’t the right choice for all situations. [The] use of the term agent is much better than the use of the word slave, but does it properly convey the performance of the function?” (Emphasis in the original.)
Alas, in the name of oversensitive cancel culture, accuracy must be sacrificed. Of course, who needs accuracy when social justice is so much more satisfying?
The Real Battle
The real attack has nothing to do with the usage of the word master. It is an attack on the very idea of hierarchy. The egalitarian world cannot tolerate that some might master things or skills better than others. This socialistic world has no place for excellence. All human life must be rendered into a great gray sameness reminiscent of the brutal architectural triumphs of the old Soviet era.
Words transmit ideas, and thus, these linguistic battles are important. Those who fight for order need to be engaged in this battle over words. The ideas behind words are crucial, and the left has long realized the importance of manipulating vocabulary to push its destructive agenda.