I wonder what it is about the term “retarded” especially that provokes so strong negative feelings in certain people but not “idiot”, “moron” or “imbecille” though all four terms have been used as mental health diagnosis in the past
I think the vitriol that comes with the term “retarded” is different. People often make faces or try to sound intellectually disabled when they say it. It gets gross in a way that the other terms don’t match.
Retarded means slowed, inhibited. One common use is a bread retarder, which a temperature controlled box you put dough in to slow the fermentation process. Retarded was also used scientifically to describe someone with an intellectual disability. While this sort of conception is out dated, they would describe someone’s disability in terms of “having the mind of a 9 year old”, so the relationship between the disability and time/slowed progress seemed really straightforward. At some point, saying a person was retarded transformed from being a scientific designation without prejudice to an insult for intellectually capable people who had done something foolish, and then eventually any misbegotten situation would be called retarded. There has been a movement both to use better language for the disabled community (hence me using the term intellectual disability) as well as stop using the word retarded as a pejorative.
Oh wow, I realize from your description we did have an exact translation, actually! It was the word “attardé”. I don’t think I heard it used in this millennium, though. :) I guess the difference is that it didn’t make it into an insult. Thanks for the detailed explanation!
Oh I see, thanks. The word looks like “arriéré” in French (which means, from wiktionary : “backwards (behind current trends)”), I thought they had the same meaning. It’s worth mentioning what “retarded” means, when you ask someone not to use it, they may have similar assumptions.