Re: Changing our Language

Subject: Re: Changing our Language
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Dec 1995 11:01:48 -0800

At 11:01 AM 12/15/95, David Fisher wrote:
>It is our professional obligation to follow these rules in order to make our
>communication clear. If language needs to change, leave it to the academics who
>have changed language in the past to do so. Our job is to hold the line against
>the constant onslaught of improper grammar and word usage. As professional
>writers, we must follow the standards. Our domestic and international customers
>deserve that from us. It is adherence to the standards that make a document
>readable, clear, and concise. These attempts at changing language by using
>plural pronouns where a singular pronoun is needed are simply wrong. The use of
>he/she and him/her simply obscures whatever message you are attempting to send
>in the chaff of political correctness. We must take a stand against this
>obfuscation and return to the job of communication.

>If you feel that your self-esteem is damaged by the use of the pronoun he, you
>should seek counseling for your problem, not try to change a language which has
>failed to damage many intelligent, dynamic, and successful women.

Sorry, David. I know you said not to flame you, but I gotta dry you
off 'cause you're really all wet here!

I have to admit, I'm one of those women who accepted the use of "he"
in the generic sence and did not let it get in the way of my reading
enjoyment or my self-esteem. However, that does not give my the
license to use it in my writing in this day and age.

Moral responsibility aside, it's my job to *communicate*. The
communication process cannot be effective unless we consider all its
aspects -- including the *noise* of preconceptions, bias, and all the
other socio-political dandruff that lands on the written page. If I use
"he" in its generic sense, I deliberately add unnecessary noise to the
communication process, defeating all my efforts to communicate clearly
and effectively. Why would I want to clutter my work that way?

Academicians cannot "change" a living language, they can only document
the changes. It is the people who use the language in its written and
oral forms who change it. If I do not follow those changes, I do not
communicate clearly to the audience that drives the changes.

As a professional commuicator, I will continue to be a master of
the language, not a slave to it -- tradition be damned.

Sue Gallagher
Expersoft Corporation
San Diego, CA
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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