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Friday, January 15, 2010

From Rodent to Racy: 'Beaver' Joins the List of Politically Incorrect Words

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- So far, officials in Beavercreek in SW Ohio aren't following in the wake of Canada's History Society, which this week scrapped the title of its magazine "The Beaver" due to sexual connotations. HA! That was the reaction from a Beavercreek official reached on the phone yesterday. The Canadian magazine is 90-years-old, and was monikered when beaver meant swimming rodents who built dams. Ohio has a host of communities and school districts that use the word beaver in their names, including three townships in Pike, Noble and Mahoning counties. There is at least one waterway called Beaver Creek, plus the SW Ohio city of 38,000 in Greene Township near Dayton. Years ago, the Native American word squaw, which was widely used in English, fell into disfavor for similar reasons as beaver -- it described the genitals of a female.

The official news release in Canada announcing the switch from The Beaver to Canada's History was carefully worded and avoided mentioning the risque linguistic evolution that prompted the change. But officials were candid in interviews with the Canadian Press, that nation's wire service. Deborah Morrison is president and CEO of Canada's National History Society:

"Because of the sexual connotations that this next generation of Canadians have adopted for the name, 'The Beaver,' there were some very practical challenges. Every once in awhile we would have readers call and say: 'You know, you've got to do something about the name.' We noticed monitoring our web traffic that the average visitor time to our website was eight seconds. And I have a feeling that might be because a lot of people going to the site weren't exactly looking for Canadian history content."

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