When is the ‘O word’ offensive and when is it not?

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Beginning this month, Chicago’s Oriental Theater is now the James M. Nederlander Theatre. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Josina Morita is correct in stating that the word “oriental” should never be used in a racial context. By itself, however, the word is benign. Should those of us, including Morita, call for an end to the use of the word “occidental” when referring to Westerners? Linguistics can be perplexing.

Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park

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When will it end? Now the Sun-Times lets Josina Morita of the Joint Asian-American Caucus demand the banning of the “O” word (Oriental). This word has existed for a thousand years, referring mainly to anything “Eastern” as opposed to “Occidental.” The dictionary definitions show nothing negative in the term. To the contrary, the second definition is, in part, “Glowing.. of superior quality… often used in grading gems…”

Before the word Oriental is banned from the lexicon, let’s take a vote on it.

Tom Sharp, Uptown

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