Oxford Clarifies Allegations on Banning Words Related to Pig

March 20, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. clear the air /klɪər ði ɛər/ (idiom) – to remove confusion or misunderstanding
Example: His explanation helped clear the air surrounding the issue.

2. insulting /ɪnˈsʌl tɪŋ/ (adj.) – showing a lack of respect
Example: His grammar mistakes were insulting to the readers.

3. stance /stæns/ (n.) – position or opinion toward an issue
Example: Religious groups kept a neutral stance on the political issue.

4. nonsense /ˈnɒn sɛns/ (n.) – something that contains foolish and thoughtless ideas
Example: People laughed about the nonsense included in the article.

5. offensive /əˈfɛn sɪv/ (adj.) – causing hurt or anger to somebody
Example: The audience thought his comments were too offensive.


Read the text below.
The Oxford University Press (OUP) released a letter to clear the air regarding allegations that OUP bans pork-related content in its books.

Talks regarding the new guideline began in BBC Radio 4’s Today program. Radio host Jim Naughtie read a letter from OUP that was sent to one of its children’s book authors. According to the letter, texts and photos of pigs, sausages, or anything pork-related are now prohibited. The move was done in an effort to avoid insulting Jewish and Muslim readers who avoid pork as part of its tradition.

However, OUP publishing director Jane Harley denied the ban through an article published in the Guardian’s comment section. She noted that the company still publishes books about pigs and pork products. Even OUP’s writers’ guidelines on their official website show no bans regarding pigs.

While pork-related content is allowed, Harley highlighted OUP’s stance on religious sensitivity. OUP upholds respect to the social and cultural differences of its international readers. The publication’s educational materials are sold to nearly 200 countries. So, OUP reminds its authors to be aware of contents that might be sensitive for particular audiences, especially on children’s materials.

The OUP letter drew negative reactions from political personalities. A Muslim parliament member in the UK called the prohibition nonsense. Another politician from the parliament said that no word becomes offensive if used in proper context. Meanwhile, a Jewish Leadership Council spokesperson said that the Jewish law only prohibits pork consumption and not the use of words related to it.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the banning of pig-related content for children’s materials? Why or why not?
·         Why do you think the show’s radio host broadcast the OUP letter?

Discussion B

·         Should an audience’s culture be considered when creating a book? Why or why not?
·         If you were to write your own book, what would it be about? Kindly discuss your answer.

March 20, 2015