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​'Consider the cultural implications': USA Today warns that using words like 'aloha' and 'hola' could be problematic

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While many Americans sprinkle non-English vocabulary into their everyday speech, a piece posted by USA Today suggests that using words borrowed from other languages, such as "aloha," "hola," and "shalom," could potentially be problematic, depending on why and how they are used.

"It's a greeting or a farewell, but the meaning is deeper," director of Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Utah Maile Arvin said about the Hawaiian word "aloha," according to the outlet. "One of my Hawaiian language teachers taught it to me as 'Aloha means recognizing yourself in everyone and everything you meet.'"

The USA Today piece, which was authored by David Oliver, suggests that non-Hawaiians using the word could come across like mockery.

"The use of certain words requires education, knowledge and the foresight to understand when they should – or shouldn't – come out of your mouth," the piece declares. "Intention matters most. Dropping 'hola' or 'shalom' to someone you know who speaks Spanish or Hebrew, for example, isn't something to worry about. Actively don a fake, exaggerated accent and say those words? Therein lies the problem," the piece says, adding that "saying 'ni hao' to someone Asian American who isn't Chinese [...] could be both othering and a microaggression."

"Language is too critical to our culture, that we can't just casually use language in ways that might offend and/or even harm, do harm to certain groups of people," director of the Frederick Douglass Institute of African & African-American Studies at the University of Rochester Jeffrey McCune said, according to USA Today.

The piece suggests that people should think about why they are using a given term and should mull the "cultural implications" before using it.

"Is it to the benefit of laughter and sarcasm and satire? Or is it a genuine interest in being a part of a cultural community that recognizes the historical meaning and historical significance of various terms?" McCune said, according to the outlet.

UN faces pushback against assertion that 'words can be weapons'

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The United Nations caught flak on social media for claiming that "words can be weapons."

"Words can be weapons. Hate speech online can lead to cruelty & violence in real life. Get tips for how you can say #NoToHate," the U.N. tweeted, linking to a page on its website that discusses the topic of so-called "hate speech."

"I wish we'd defund you," conservative radio host Dana Loesch tweeted in response to the U.N.'s post.

"No they can't. Just stop. You have member nations engaged in slavery & mass murder. How about you get some priorities?" PJ Media columnist Stacey Lennox tweeted.

"No they are not. The UN is useless, corrupt, hypocritical and should be disbanded and forcibly removed from United States soil," someone else tweeted.

"I can't think of a more dangerous message than this one. There is a concerted effort to make the public fear free speech. This is authoritarianism," another person commented.

\u201cI can\u2019t think of a more dangerous message than this one. There is a concerted effort to make the public fear free speech. This is authoritarianism.\u201d
— Laura Powell (@Laura Powell) 1669619595

The U.N.'s tweet linked to a webpage with suggestions about how people should react when they encounter "hate speech."

"Hate speech occurs in all societies, whether offline or online. It can sometimes be hard to assess when a comment is meant as hate speech – especially when expressed in the virtual world. It can also feel overwhelming to try to deal with obviously hateful content," the page states. "However, there are many ways you can take a stand, even if you are not personally the victim of hate speech. And you can make a difference."

"To detect false and biased information, including hate speech propaganda, be sure to check the content's origin with the help of search engines, fact-checking tools and other reliable sources," the U.N. suggested.

"One way to tackle hate speech is to spread your own counter-speech to make sure hate is not the dominant narrative. You can undermine hateful content with positive messages that spread tolerance, equality and truth in defense of those being targeted by hate," the page states. "Taking a public stand for, and extending solidarity to, people who are the targets of hate speech demonstrates that rejecting hate is the responsibility of every individual."

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