Should an author use language that is historically accurate or politically correct?

David Bowles has a post at Writing the Westward Sagas on Political Correctness vs. Historical Accuracy.

I am David’s editor, and we have been trying to decide whether or not to use certain terms that would have been used by his characters at the time but are now considered offensive.

Another book I’m editing also faces the same challenge. Like David’s books, this other book tells the story of the author’s ancestors. Since his ancestors were slaves, it would be difficult to describe their lives without using the words they were called. Obviously the author would not be using the words offensively, because the book is a tribute to his family.

What do you think? Should an author remain true to history and use the language of the times or should he tell his story without using words that would offend someone today?

[tags]biased language, political correctness, historical accuracy[/tags]

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