Author Topic: Why’s the new normal* in HK English to call ordinary people “normal”?  (Read 3567 times)

Joe Carillo

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This e-mail from Isabel F., an occasional Forum contributor based in Hong Kong, reached me before noon today, January 22, 2015:


As a regular listener to HK radio stations (and also the BBCWorldService radio, which airs 24  hours a day on the AM meter band here in HK), I often wonder why certain adjectives, nouns, etc., have become acceptable and are now used regularly.

When they talk of classes of people, they often refer to “normal” persons as compared to those of the upper classes, celebrities, etc. This strikes me as strange since it implies that the others are “abnormal.”  I would think “ordinary” people is more apropos, wouldn’t you say?

It’s rather like talking about “extraordinary” people who do unusual things which “ordinary” ones wouldn’t do, I should think.

Similarly, talking about the pervasive awareness today of the LGBT community, the word used to denote non-members of that category is “straight.” Again, this implies the LGBT types are “crooked.” So what word should be used? I realize being graphic and saying “homosexual” and “heterosexual” is too long, so perhaps “homo” and “hetero” are preferable?

I may have told you before of another thing I find annoying—the misuse of subject and object in prepositional phrases. Ex.: “That food is for Jon and I.” Correctly it should be “That food is for Jon and me.” 

Then there’s “Me and Jon are going to a movie.”  It should be “Jon and I are going to a movie.”

Maybe I’m being too persnickety when the rest of the word prefers to be colloquial & dispense with grammar rules?


The new normal, as defined by the Urban Dictionary, is current jargon for “the current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state after an event occurs. The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been.”