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I’ve been speaking English and working in it since the 90s. Still, some things get lost in translation.

Take the debate over terms like “master” and “slave.” These are common in computing and electronics.

There’s been a recent debate to change it, and now the confession: I have to admit that I didn’t really get it.

The native English speakers that took it up with me were on such sure footing that it was high time to chuck them overboard. There’s really only one way to think about “slave” and it can’t be taken out of that context. Whether you’re talking Egyptian times or the British colonial legacy, slave = slave. In the curent debate, though, some have taken to thinking that keeping it defies the tide of political correctness and maintaining the right to use words that might offend some.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now: What if resisting to change the master/slave terminology is due to a concentration of programmer/tech types using English as a second language? I get the @antirez argument: the master/slave name refers to databases and in this context it may not sound offensive…to non-native English speakers, at least.

It wasn’t until I said out loud, in my own native Italian that it was clear to me:


Il database padrone e il suo schiavo.

Dillo ad alta voce, say it out loud. It’s not the right word.