Political Correctness (Was Re: Master/Slave)

Subject: Political Correctness (Was Re: Master/Slave)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: techwr-l digest recipients <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 10:47:57 -0700

Tom Murrell wrote:

>As writers, I think it is our job to address the audience in a way that engages
>them rather than in a way that causes them to disengage from the document. We
>no longer blindly hold to the notion that only males are reading our documents.
>So we adjust to make the female reader feel a part of the audience, too.

Nicely put.

On the one hand, in my experience, the most fanatical advocates
of politically correct langauge are people who literally talk the
talk but don't walk the walk. That is, for all their care with
language, they don't live up to their principles. They're too
busy with the small ones to live up to the big ones. By contrast,
I know several people whose diction is definitely politically
incorrect but who are high on my list of people I'd most like to
be with when I have a coronary.

On the other hand, as a writer, I'd be undermining my own sense
of the world if I didn't admit that language shapes the way we
view the world, and what relation we strike up with our
audiences. Frankly, I'm always amazed by the number of people on
this list - a writer's list, after all - who don't seem to
understand these basic facts. Nor do I understand why they
exaggerate the difficulties of finding alternate terminologies.
Not only are we writers, but most of us write in English, a
language so rich in synonyms and so loose in syntax that you can
find a dozen ways to say the same thing without even straining.
It's only sensible to ensure that readers focus on what you're
saying rather than how you're saying it, and very easy to ensure.
You can even explain the terminology in a glossary or
introduction for readers used to another terminology. So what's
the big deal?
Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
"The Open Road" column, Maximum Linux
3015 Aries Place, Burnaby, BC V3J 7E8, Canada
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7189

"Father, father, tell me, why do the horsemen ride?
Why do the troopers look so grim by Jamie Graham's side?
Is it true that he's a traitor? But father, tell me why,
There's no' a man among them a' will look him in the eye?"
-Brian McNeil, "Montrose"

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