Proper Nouns and World Peace: TEDxRapidCity Talk

Improper Nouns
TEDxRapidCity Talk


Suppose I have just robbed a convenience store and am running off down the street as fast as I can go with a case of beer in each hand. When the clerk calls the cops, it would be a great idea to use adjectives. To describe my gender, my race, my age, my physical appearance, my height, and even, God forbid, my weight. This is exactly what adjectives are for.

But far too often, we misuse adjectives as nouns. We use them—words like white, black, Muslim, Christian, redneck, disabled, liberal, conservative—as shortcuts or labels to define people. We forget to finish the sentence. We don’t include the essential noun that all these adjectives describe: the person.

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