Re: Evolving language or laziness?

Subject: Re: Evolving language or laziness?
From: "Colleen Dancer (02) 333-1862" <DANCER -dot- COLLEEN -at- A2 -dot- ABC -dot- NET -dot- AU>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 13:38:00 +1100

Tim Alton writes:
Many companies are now scuttling into cobwebby holes
to avoid confronting angry feminists over "his" as the indefinite
pronoun. A lot of otherwise thoughtful people have suggested using "them"
as an acceptable substitute. Sorry, but I can't agree. I see using "them"
in singular applications as a "bump" that the user has to get over.

<end quote>

I don't consider myself an angry feminist, nor a particularly ardent one.
however I do find that I don't relate the pronoun His to me. I don't
think of the word mankind as being sexist, but I definitely find his or
he or the use of male examples only as annoying. I also find it
interferes with my comprehension, instead of taking in the data I find
myself saying "don't they think computer operators can be female?" I
much prefer using their, you, them or any of those words which don't
denote a sex. From talking to some of my other female colleagues, they
feel the same way. In other words you end up noticing the language
rather than the message. Which from a technical communicator's point of
view is bad.

I believe that political correctness can be taken too far and often is,
but I think that many females do not consider the pronoun "his" to be
gender indeterminate.

Something else to consider: Whether a field is male or female dominated,
using sexist language; either his or her, makes it more difficult for the
minority sex to "break" into the field, it risks making them feel even
more alienated. Again not something I as a technical communicator want
to do.

Colleen Dancer
dancer -dot- colleen -at- a2 -dot- abc -dot- net -dot- au

The opinions expressed are mine and not my employers.


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