offending or offensive

quietdandelion

Banned
Formosa/Chinese
The minister had to make an apology for the offending/offensive language he used against the minorities.

I would say "offensive language", but does offending language sound right?

Second, I would keep the in "the minorities" How about you? Thanks.
 
  • Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    To the English ear "offensive" is the word that sounds correct. "Offending' can be used. It is an inflection of "offend" which means that the ear is more likely to remember it than "offensive."

    "the" should stay. Minorities standing without it would mean every minority on the face of the earth. In your context it is obvious that the minister offended a particular group.
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    To the English ear "offensive" is the word that sounds correct. "Offending' can be used. It is an inflection of "offend" which means that the ear is more likely to remember it than "offensive."

    "the" should stay. Minorities standing without it would mean every minority on the face of the earth. In your context it is obvious that the minister offended a particular group.
    Thanks, Harry.
    Do you mean for the part in bold that our ear is more likely to remember offending language than offensive one? If yes, does it mean that there are subtle nuances between them? Would you cast more light? Thanks.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    The phrase "The offending language" would not be modified with "he used", as it is a complete and self-contained description, whereas "the offensive language" can take modification in that way, as it is "open", so to speak.
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    We have a good adjective to use here, offensive.
    It is not necessary to use the participle, offending, as an adjective - so it sounds strange. Unless you deliberately want to make the reader pause at that point rather than understand immediately the phrase "the offensive language", I would stick with offensive.

    I would omit the unless his offence was addressed to some very specific minorities. We often talk about minorities (without the) in a context where only some of the very large number of minorites are intended.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Sorry, it wasn't a very clear explanation. You can think of "the offending words" as being like "those words" meaning certain words that have just been quoted and therefore don't need any further description. Just as you wouldn't need to add "that he used" to "those words", there is nothing that needs to be added to "the offending words". You could add something but it is completely understood as it is. In you example, by saying "the offensive words" it is not necessary for the reader to know what the actual words were.

    I hope this is clearer, I'm afraid it's quite difficult for me to explain what I mean.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Pan is correct about "the" but I would like to see the sentence before this one to determine whether the minister was offending a specific minority or set of minorities. It would be unfair to the minister to assume that he has offended just about everyone in a minority when he was only attacking atheists or nymphomaniacs.
     

    quietdandelion

    Banned
    Formosa/Chinese
    Thanks, my friends.
    The base sentence is a stand-alone example; there is no larger context. It uses the offending language and no "the" before minorities.
    Now, "the" is crytal clear after pan's explanation. As for the "offending" language, it is troublesome.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Oh, another distinction is that "the offending language" (or "words") does not have to imply that it is "offensive" in the general sense. It can also mean words or language that is objected to, or disagreed with, but not "offensive" (e.g. rude or abusive) per se. But "offensive" always implies rude, abusive or upsetting to the sensibilities (except of course, where it means "attacking" as in sport or war).

    I think, along with everyone else, that "offending" was the wrong choice of words here, particularly if you say there was no previous reference to the actual words.
     

    jonmaz

    Senior Member
    English-Australia
    Is this logical?

    One can use offensive language which does not offend any listener.

    One using offending language must offend one or more of his listeners.
     

    Marty10001

    Senior Member
    Ireland/English
    I may belong to a particular group who find the "offending" words "offensive" but not many outside of my group may be "offended" by the same words.
     

    my-own-fantasy

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    The minister had to make an apology for the offending/offensive language he used against the minorities.

    I would say "offensive language", but does offending language sound right?

    Second, I would keep the in "the minorities" How about you? Thanks.
    Hmm... offensive sounds correct to me, howerver I think that you would be able to use offending.
    As for The, I would keep it too. ;)
     
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