The creator of the AP vs. Chicago website has turned her attention to ways in which words include or exclude, marginalize or empower. Karen Yin has created Conscious Style Guide as “an online resource for kind, compassionate, and inclusive language.”
Yin, a writer, copy editor, and 2015 Lambda Literary Foundation fellow, plans to introduce her website consciousstyleguide.com at next week's American Copy Editors Society national conference, where she is scheduled to speak as part of a panel on the Language of the LGBT Community. A ”soft launch” came Feb. 19, and the site's Twitter account has been sharing links to recent articles and blogs. The website is the beginning of what she hopes will be a resource for writers and editors searching for how certain terms are used by different communities.
“Several years ago, I began to collect style guides created by marginalized communities so I could learn about their preferred terminology and the reasoning behind it,” she said in an email interview. “Because of my own sensitivity to labels and my experiences with feeling excluded or reduced by words, I wanted to honor other people’s chosen language and identities as well as erase the boxes around us.”
The website provides links to the latest conversations about the words we use in regard to abilities and disabilities, age, appearance, ethnicity and nationality, gender and sexuality—wherever words reinforce negative ideas about us and them.
“Language shapes attitudes, so for many, a lot is at stake. Lives are at stake,” she said. “Although I flat-out disagree with some mainstreamed terminology and use others with great reluctance, my role as curator gives me a wider perspective. I’m interested in showcasing points from the bigger discussion going on, like why people in the same community prefer opposing terms, what the ‘safe’ route is when there are no clear answers.”
She said she plans to add keywords for better searching and continue to improve the site.
“I’ve noticed that people who react the most enthusiastically to Conscious Style Guide are people excluded from the dominant culture in some way,” Yin said. “They tell me how needed this site is, so my job is to make it as useful as possible so people will use it.”
Conscious Style Guide is attractive and welcoming, right down to the email address, [email protected], and contact phone number, which ends in JOY. Yin said her goal is to reinforce the positive and inclusive.
“The section I’m most excited about putting together deals with language for self-empowerment,” she said. “I believe in the maxim that the way you do anything is the way you do everything, so I want to be mindful and skillful with words in everyday life. It’s about effective communication, not about trying not to offend.”
Yin said she is not done with AP vs. Chicago, which highlights ways in which the two big style books differ.
“Definitely more posts are in the works,” she said. “For example, I want to cover the more gnarly aspects of number style soon, if only for my own edification. If you only knew how often I consult my own website!”