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I replaced 'Orc' with Russian in answer (that was speaking of 'Orc artillery'). Wikipedia says that's a 'slang' term, but also adds that it has some political commentary connotations about realpolitik being like Middle-Earth etc.

Did I go too far with my 'political correctness'? Is 'Orc' acceptable here when referring to the Russian military in Ukraine? (The post was up like that for about 6 months before I edited it.)

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    What inspired this question, was there controversy about the edit? Commented Mar 24 at 17:55
  • @EkadhSingh-ReinstateMonica: well, the details are in the Q: it was up for a while, and Wikipedia is a bit verbose on this. Commented Mar 24 at 18:00
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    IMO how long something is up for shouldn’t matter when editing it, but I understand what you mean, thanks. Commented Mar 24 at 18:02
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    One exception might be if the term appears in a quote. There it is better to add an explanation instead of altering the quote. This wasn't the case here though. Commented Apr 2 at 6:31

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No, this term is not acceptable. It seems to me to be a clear example of the kind of language described in the 'Dehumanization' section of the abusive behaviour policy in the Code of Conduct.

  • Dehumanization – depriving individuals or groups of people of their perceived humanity and dignity, for example, by comparing humans, groups, or their stated or perceived behaviors in a derogatory manner with non-human entities such as animals perceived as inferior, bacteria, viruses, microbes, diseases, infections, filth, and other qualifiers.
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I have read the term "Orc" as a term for Russian soldiers in various pro-Ukraine online communities. While I can understand their anger, it is still a slur. Which we should avoid to maintain neutrality.

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  • While the slur refers to their ungentlemanly behavior wrt to frequent violations of the rules of war, i would probably concede that it is a slur. Certainly it is not a descriptive term, so its use is not collegiate. Commented Mar 29 at 23:47
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It seems to me to risk misunderstanding or confusion.

"Orc" is not that commonly encountered in English (whether in this usage to refer to Russians, or in any other), and I'm sure it has emerged specifically during this Ukraine War where very few English-speaking troops are on frontlines (so this kind of slang is not popularised).

It's also undoubtedly informal with a slant towards disparaging. We would hardly refer to "Kraut artillery", "Yankee artillery", or even "Russki artillery".

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It's definitely not a dehumanization because in the fantasy genre orcs can produce fertile offsprings with humans.

This is the scientific standard for being the same specie. The classic scientific counter-example is a mule, the cross of a donkey and a horse, because mules cannot produce offsprings. So mules, donkeys, and horses are not the same specie.

However, I still think it's probably too far for this site.

The Ukrainians refer to Russian soldiers as "orcs" because they exhibited complete disregard for the Geneva Conventions and even more basic rules of war, even going as far as executing POWs.

But it's still a term which is not inherently descriptive. It clearly attaches a negative sentiment. So in a collegiate discourse it should not be used.


I am not sure about calling the Russian soldiers "the Horde" though. An argument can be made that the Russian empire was created by a breakaway province of the Horde, which appropriated the legacy of the Kievan Rus to gain legitimacy and then expanded to gain most of the Horde's territory. Certainly the Moscovy Province inherited its administrative and military traditions more from the Horde than from the Kievan Rus. And its initial period of expansion was Eastward, into the Horde territory.

So, the other practice, of calling the Russian soldiers "the Horde," while derogatory, may also be descriptive as an allusion to a certain view of history.

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