Re: Gender in languages (long)

Subject: Re: Gender in languages (long)
From: karen randolph <karen_randolph -at- HILLSPET -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 13:31:59 CST

I've been following this thread (and "your mail"), and thought I'd add
a thought or two ...

I am a female, raised by well-educated parents, and have always been a
verocious reader. I have occasionally felt like a "door was slammed
in my face" due to my gender when applying for a job or while in
school, but *never* when I was reading. (Unless it was the author's
intent to belittle a woman or women in general.) I am not (and never
have been) offended by "he" as the non-gender specific pronoun (used
consistantly), although I am getting used to the non-grammatical use
of singular "they." After following this thread, I am wondering WHY I
feel this way ...

- I somewhat agree with the "age" reasoning presented, as I probably
fall in the youngest (or borderline anyway) category.

- I believe in righting the wrongs of all kinds of "legitimate"
injustices, including women's rights, so it's not that I'm
anti-feminist. (In fact, my husband's friends say far from it! <g>)

- I have had a extensive, well-rounded education. Can't be that.

- My mother wants women priests in the Catholic church. Can't be
that my parents were "traditional."

- I grew up with brothers (and a sister), and was afforded the same
opportunities as they were, probably because I was loud and
demanding. (I think personality has a lot to do with all of this
somehow ... The meek may inherit the earth, but the strong sure
seem to be allowed to enjoy more of it now! <g>)

So why am I not offended? Maybe it's because of all of the above, AND
because I grew up learning OTHER languages. [George Allaman: maybe you
tried to learn German too late in your education?] Maybe if children
who speak English are exposed to languages like French, German,
Spanish, Latin, Italian, and so on, that have GENDER-SPECIFIC NOUNS,
there would be less argument over the non-gender he/she pronoun. I
have traveled quite a bit, and have yet to hear the argument by a
French woman that the feminine noun XXX is offensive. (Maybe I haven't
been in the right place?)

I feel "mankind" means the universal "man." (BTW, I'm thinking Mann in
German means "one," it's been awhile.) And, isn't there currently the
theory of both sexes having "male" and "female" sides? Well, I guess
my "male" side gets the better of me sometimes! <g>

Actions speak louder than words ... take your daughter to a female
pediatrician, and she will know women can be doctors. (But there may
be a better male pediatrician in town!)

To bring this back to technical writing, if there is a source that
cites that using "they" is aacceptable, I would like to know. (So I
can stop offending the general population, it seems.)

Karen Randolph (speaking for myself)
karen_randolph -at- hillspet -dot- com

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