US academic is suspended for using the Chinese word for 'um' because it sounded like a racial slur
- Greg Patton lectured on use of 'filler words' at University of Southern California
- He mentioned the Chinese expression 'neige' (pronounced 'nee-gah')
- He was placed on administrative leave while the university 'review the situation'
It is an innocuous expression, but an academic has been suspended for using the Chinese word for ‘um’ because it sounded like a racial slur.
Professor Greg Patton was giving a lecture about the use of ‘filler words’ during an online at the University of Southern California when he mentioned the Chinese expression ‘neige’ (pronounced ‘nee-gah’) saying: ‘If you have a lot of ‘ums and errs’... based on your native language, like in China... it might be nee-gah, nee-gah, nee-gah.’
A group of students threatened to withdraw from the rather than ‘endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural sensitivities’, adding: ‘Our mental health has been affected.’