A professor at the University of Southern California has been suspended for using a Chinese word that sounds the same as a racial slur in English. The suspension is ludicrous, considering the professor did not mean to insult anyone.
Professor Greg Patton is a clinical business communication lecturer at USC. In a recent virtual class, the communication expert was discussing filler words such as um, and ah. Unfortunately for him, a common filler word in Chinese, “that” has the same pronunciation as an English racial slur.
“In China, the common word is ‘that, that that that,’ so in China it might be ‘nega, nega, nega, nega.’ So there’s different words you’ll hear in different cultures, but they’re vocal disfluencies,” the professor innocently said.
“Nega” sounds like a racial slur and some sensitive students were offended enough to report the issue to the university’s administration, which responded by suspending the professor.
In a statement the school administration said, “Recently, a USC faculty member during class used a Chinese word that sounds similar to a racial slur in English. We acknowledge the historical, cultural and harmful impact of racist language.”
The statement continued to explain that the professor agreed to take a break as the campus investigated the issue further.
The campus administration also reiterated that the school is committed to supporting students and staff who need help and also “committed to building a culture of respect and dignity where all members of our community can feel safe, supported, and can thrive.”
However, the suspension is ludicrous, considering the professor did not intend to insult anyone. It was purely coincidental that the Chinese filler word sounds like a racial slur in English, but this outcome is not at all surprising considering the mass hysteria we’re currently living in.