Australian dictionary changes definition of 'monolid' after backlash

2019-08-01 21:00 851

BEIJING, Aug. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by on a Chinese-Australian mother's endeavor to change the definition of "monolid" in dictionary:

Dictionary is a fundamental tool for explaining language. However, only recently, Australia's Macquarie Dictionary, the authoritative source on Australian English, has sparked controversies with the definition of a word.

The dictionary defined "monolid" as "an upper eyelid without a fold, perceived by some in Asia to give an appearance of lethargy or laziness." Wendy, a Chinese-Australian and a mother, complained about the definition. She said, "When it comes to a physical description, it is no different to other terms describing a physical feature such as 'blonde' or 'freckles'." She asked, "Why would it be appropriate then, for the term 'monolid' be perceived as an appearance of lethargy or laziness?"

Wendy wrote a letter to the editorial department of the dictionary. She said that the term "monolid" should be a neutral description of a physical characteristic, but the current definition may create negative stereotyping and body image issues, and further affect children's mental health.

Fortunately, a week later, Wendy heard from the Macquarie Dictionary's senior editor. The latter said that the complaint was very valid and appreciated her bringing it to their attention. Now, the dictionary defines the term "monolid" as "an upper eyelid without a fold, a characteristic of the eyes of many people of East Asian ethnicity."

The Macquarie Dictionary is a national dictionary. Its definition of "monolid" reflects, to some extent, Australian society's stereotyping of single eyelids, and even Asian ethnicity. In fact, when Wendy emigrated to Australia at the age of seven, she suffered from racial discrimination because of her black hair and dark brown eyes.

Cultures are different, and misunderstandings are always likely. We need more people like Wendy to make detailed efforts. At the same time, we need to learn about each other's ethnic groups more deeply and meticulously. Only on this basis can we eliminate barriers and talk about "equality," rather than just pursue "political correctness" one-sidedly.

Referring back to the "monolid," the heroine in Disney's animated film "Mulan" had single eyelids, but in the upcoming live-action film, actress Liu Yifei, who stars as Mulan, has double eyelids. Think about it, as long as she can portray a stern and intelligent Mulan, does it matter whether she has single eyelids or double eyelids? We need to treat people with different eyelids, skin colors and hair colors in an equal manner.

China Mosaic

Australian dictionary changes definition of 'monolid' after backlash


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