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It is important to explain that I do not use so-called “person-first” language consistently throughout. It is widely alleged that referring to someone as a “stutterer” connotes a greater lack of sensitivity toward that person than referring to him as a “person who stutters” (and maybe using “him/her” might connote sensitivity as well). I have always doubted this, in spite of admonitions and requirements to use person-first language in our professional and scholarly communications. For that reason, I carried out a series of studies that, except for a few isolated cases, showed clearly that person-first labeling was not perceived any more pejoratively or positively than direct labeling by wide ranging samples consisting of the public, students, and those with speech, language, or hearing disorders (St. Louis, 1999). In fact, the group of clients, one half of whom stuttered, favored “stutterer” over “person who stutters.” This being said, I fully recognize the gravity of negative labeling. Like the widely known pejorative connotations of “retarded,” or “moron,” it may well be, for example, that calling someone “fat” conjures up a more negative image than calling the person “overweight” or “obese.” Only careful research will answer these questions.

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