Apple Siri’s definition of ‘bitch’ is racially offensive

“It seems people of color can’t escape racial bias, even when talking to Siri,” Taryn Finley writes for The Huffington Post.

“Apple iPhone’s staple feature defines the word ‘bitch’ in an even more offensive way than one would think possible,” Finley writes. “When you ask Siri to define the word, the second definition it provides reads: ‘(informal, derogatory) a spiteful or unpleasant woman.’ The first sub-meaning underneath that definition reads: ‘(black slang) a woman.'”

“Siri isn’t the primary source of this definition, however,” Finley writes. “Apple references the New Oxford American Dictionary for Siri’s catalogue of definitions, though ‘black slang’ isn’t referenced in Oxford’s current definition on its site. Software entrepreneur Elliot Turner wrote on Quora that Siri functions by ‘using data mashup technologies to interface with third-party web services… to perform actions, search operations, and question answering.’ Similarly, Google’s search database uses the exact same definition.”

The definition of "bitch" as returned by Apple's Siri on December 4, 2015 at 12:45pm ET
The definition of “bitch” as returned by Apple’s Siri on December 4, 2015 at 12:45pm ET

 
Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s not “black slang,” it’s just slang. No racial tag required.

Ain’t that a bitch?

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

23 Comments

  1. It is a definition…one of many for that word. One has to take offense to be offended. If you look up the definition of a word, you may get some results that you do not like. This is truly making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill.

    1. Truly, we live in the Age of Aggrievement. We must not only watch our language in polite company, we must now lobby to regulate agents like Siri and their data sources, in order to protect delicate sensibilities. Fortunately, for relief from this oppression we can come to lightly moderated forums like MDN to express our human nature in the form of unmitigated bitching about everything.

      1. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry. There are agencies over here proactively attempting to persuade black men from using that term along with the hangers on of other cultures who buy into this form of street slang on the basis it’s clearly sexist and derogatory to women. Black women play a particularly prominent role in this work. I wonder how they must feel to be told that their work is either in purpose non existent or in essense itself discriminatory. Sadly this disguising or suppressing of things we don’t like to admit to for fear of offending sensibilities are the self a form of bigotry as we have found in the wholesale grooming of young girls being suppressed and thus allowed to actually flourish based on similar motives.

    2. The question isn’t about the definition, it’s about the racial attribution of “black slang.”

      Oxford’s online dictionary does NOT appear to contain a definition for “black slang,” though. They should at least define their terms.

      Siri / Apple are not really topics of this story, it just garners more attention that way than a story about the Oxford American Dictionary’s contents.

  2. siri, in this mode, is a collector and not t fault. the sources are what should be called out. as usual in a huff post article, the comments are more balanced that the article. many commenters defend siri and in absentia, the dictionaries, for just providing what they are designed to provide, in they case use of language, formal and colloquial. if an alien landed in NYC she would need to know why all the construction workers are yelling “bitch” at her. siri would tell her some of the reasons.

    the case of google connecting gorillas to black women is a little more egregious.

    the term is both derogatory and complimentary depending on it’s use. what should be condemned is the usage, not the technical assistance to get a definition.

    1. If you aren’t going to bother to use capital letters or don’t have time to use punctuation then please don’t post at all. You have very little relevance. Go away.

  3. Yesterdays HOT news. Read the comments on Huffington Post. The consensus seem this is much ado about nothing. They put Apple Siri in the title ac click bait since Google gives the same definition.

  4. Jesus!

    First world problems or what? Some entitled bitch (see what I did there?) bitches about a word definition and the entire planet falls apart at the seams.

    Come up my part of the world and you’ll hear world+dog described in far worse terms, and not one bugger—male or female— bats a poxy eyelid!

    Entitled is as entitled does. Grow a pair—it’s a dictionary definition, FFS!!

    =:~)

  5. MDN,

    I don’t think you understand black slang.

    “Ain’t that a bitch” is totally white. Whereas, “Yo bitch where’s my money?”, is totally black. I mean that in a very good way. There are some things that blacks just own. Try saying the N word for example. See? I can’t even write it let alone say it. Now “imagine” Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre having a conversation……N word everywhere and it doesn’t come across as offensive.

    1. Paul, I’m wondering how old you are. Nothing offensive, but… “Ain’t that a bitch” was black slang long, long before being adopted by white folk. I’m talking back in the 60s and probably before that. Johnny Guitar Watson recorded the song “Ain’t that a Bitch” in 1975.

      The migration of slang is really fascinating to watch over the years. It used to takes about 4 to 8 years for a word or phrase to be generally adopted by whites, and than massaged into something slightly different.

      Once the slang does make it across, it becomes cringeworthy every time you hear it. Things like “baby momma” or “the bomb” or “peeps” or the relatively recent “ratchet” which began as a simple inability to use the word “wretched” properly.

      The cross cultural transference has been sped up by things like crap Oprah-esq shows, and twitter. “Black twitter” is constantly getting credit for originating terms these days such as “bae.” It’s gone from years to weeks.

      As far as relevance to the real world though, MDN’s take is as usual, spot on correct. It’s just slang. Interesting to watch, not much else.

      1. That was then. Nowadays it is definitely white. Somehow I can’t see snoop or the Doctor saying anything like that. Close your eyes and now imagine Dr Dre standing right I. Front of you. Now, in your minds eye, make him say ATAB. See doesn’t work in 2015.

    2. I don’t have to imagine it. I recently attended a hip hop festival with multiple performers. Actually, I covered it for a newspaper. The phrase “M***** F****r” was used on stage more often than the word “the”, by every performer. This included Warren G, who brought up an audience member (who was not black) and simulated something on stage that I can’t repeat here.
      On a funny note, when The Game (Jayceon Terrell Taylor) was performing I was thinking to myself, do you talk to your mother like that? (yea, I actually said that old cliché to myself) He then proceeded to bring his mother and grandmother up on stage with him. 🙂
      This is not a statement on race (so this post may not apply here) but one on the Hip Hop (Rapp) performers, and the audience members. (many in the audience where white and had other ethnic backgrounds)
      Lets just say I was disappointed.

  6. MDN since you edited the headline why didn’t you make it factual and reference the apparent publisher of the dictionary instead of continuing to denigrate Siri.

    Oh, clickbait guidelines wouldn’t let you??

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