14th October, 2017
Congratulations on your bold conciliatory move to Canada’s First Nations, by ridding the School Board of any trace of the appellation of ‘Chief’. I, for one, would not go to say George Orwell would be proud of you – appalled would be more likely – but perhaps the themes of his dystopian novel ‘1984’ have escaped you. Or perhaps they have not.
Of course, ‘Etymology’ may also be a word you have difficulty understanding. As you might not believe in having reference books at hand, perhaps you might resort to the Internet instead. I refer you to Wikipedia or the Online Etymology Dictionary (which may be found at http://www.etymonline.com) instead.
Alas, the word ‘Chief’ – which you have now banned – when used as a noun has the following entry:
“chief (n.) c. 1300, “head, leader, captain, the principal or most important part of anything; from Old French chief “leader, ruer, head” of something, “capital city” (10c., Modern French chef), from Vulgar Latin “capum; from Latin caput “head”, also “leader, chief person, summit, capital city” (from PIE root “kaput- “head”). Meaning “head of a clan” is from 1570s, later extended to Amrican Indian tribes. Commander-in-Chief attested from 1660s.”
Ooops; bit of a problem there, eh? The word ‘chief’ seems to have emerged around 200 years before Colombus turned up in the New World… good thing the teaching of history is now a lesser priority.
Not to worry, the English language is an exceptionally versatile and adaptive tongue. We have loads of substitute words from the First Nations of the Americas that the Toronto District School Board might care to adopt in lieu of the word ‘Chief’.
For example, your chief executive officer could now be referred to as the ‘Sachem’.
A chief superintendent might rejoice in the title of ‘Cacique’.
No doubt your leadership will see this initiative emulated in other areas. I look forward to the RCN’s chief petty officers receiving the new appellation of ‘Kikmongwi’, Toronto’s Chief of Police may be called the ‘Toqui’ of Police, and perhaps the head of the city’s fire department may be referred to as the ‘Weroance’.
The business community can resort to such titles as ‘Shakes’ and ‘Tadodaho’, although ‘Teuctocaitl’ does have such a nice ring to it…
Or we could resort to the title of ‘Ravens’ for military colonels in chief. ‘Onontio’ does have a lovely resonance, however, and who would not want to have ‘Lonko’ on their business card? Although one fears that unkind souls might substitute the letter ‘u’ for the first vowel.
Alas, as an unredacted old White European-descended Patriarchal Heterosexual (and enduring the terrible shame of being such in this enlightened age), I will claim the privilege of crustiness and will insist on using the word ‘Chief’ with malice aforethought, particularly when it comes to dealing with the Toronto District School Board.
John C. Thompson
#TDSB, #Chief, #Political Correctness
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