NASA has landed a research craft on Mars, and many are keen to see what mysteries it will uncover. Some, however, focused instead on linguistics, taking offence to words like “colonization” and “exploration.”

Many would think that things on the top of the ‘potential troubles with visiting Mars’ list would include the loss of research data. Or perhaps discovering (potentially aggressive and vexatious) alien life. But that doesn’t seem to be even a blip on the radar for some, like American astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz, who are more worried about what words are used to describe space exploration. Walkowicz told Newsweek that words like “colonization” are “not OK to use” as it “erases the history of colonization here on our own planet.”

Despite NASA having bigger fish to fry than the preferred snowflake vernacular, it seems that Walkowicz isn’t the only one worried about the ‘damage’ certain words could have. “Language is one of the ways in which we shape our social reality,”sociologist Zuleyka Zevallos from Australia’s Swinburne University also told Newsweek.

The history of colonialism has taught us that there is no democratic way to colonize other lands,” Zevallos added. “It is about profit, and profit always marginalizes minorities.”

It is currently unclear what impact using the world ‘colonization’ will have on Mars’ minorities.

So far, some have argued that the following words should be banned: colonizing, settlement, frontier, and… exploring. If you can’t use the word ‘exploring’ to explain how NASA is ‘searching a previously unsearched new planet,’ then who even knows what terminology is snowflake-safe.

 

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