Online Thesaurus removes derogatory listings for
August 25, 2005
Washington, DC–Responding to calls from the New Jersey chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC-NJ), as well as other Arab groups, thesaurus.com has removed derogatory synonyms for the word ‘Arab‘ from its website. Additionally, Lexico Publishing Group, the owner of thesaurus.com, issued a letter of apology to ADC-NJ.
The entry originally listed the word Arab as a noun meaning derelict, ragamuffin, tramp, traveler, urchin, vagabond, holy terror bell-ringer, beggar, bum, and monkey.
On August 19, ADC-NJ and the American Arab Forum contacted Lexico regarding these term and asked for the immediate removal of the synonyms and an apology to the Arab-American community. Lexico promptly removed the synonyms from the online thesaurus and apologized for what they called a “misunderstanding.”
Additionally, Lexico CEO Brian Kariger sent ADC-NJ and the Arab-American community a letter of apology in which he explained that the synonyms were derived from a 19th century, outdated use of the term “street arab.” He added, “We take your concerns very seriously and we are sorry we have offended you. We abhor the use of racial and ethnic slurs and there was no intention on our part to be racist or to perpetuate racism. . . . . Since our aim is to reflect current usage, we acknowledge that the inclusion of the term was an error. It is our policy to correct errors as quickly as possible, and when we were notified of this error we corrected it on the site immediately.” To read the letter click here.
ADC congratulates ADC-NJ and the American Arab Forum for their efforts in resolving this issue. ADC also thanks Lexico Publishing Group for its cooperation and prompt response to the concerns of the Arab-American community.
To read ADCNJ‘s press release click here
To read Associated Press Article regarding this issue click here