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: Fri, 15 Mar 1996 10:19:00 +1100

OK I stored up a hornets nest :)

Tim suggests that I am trying to artificially change language. I don't
think so, listen to most peoples conversations, they use "they", "their"
and "you" etc all the time as gender indeterminate words. So all we are
doing is using constructions that are already there. I would suggest
that most people don't even notice well written gender indeterminate
language. Note I am not fond of s/he construntion, it feels artificial
to me.

On the subject of language in a field, it does make a difference. If you
are trying to break into a field, you don't need even the textbooks
telling you that males aren't nurses or females aren't engineers. By the
way I trained as a computer scientist only 4 years ago and you could
still count on 2 hands the women in the class in the last year. My
sister is doing elec eng and there are even less females there. When you
are in the minority, life is often difficult, no need to make it more
difficult by language which doesn't need to be sexist. Note this doesn't
say its impossible to break into a field, just that those who do are
often very strong minded.

My point is that if we can easily remove unnecessary barriers then as
technical communicators we should. I would suggest that in user manuals,
and in almost all instruction based material, gender neutral language can
be easy and natural.

Colleen

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

The opinions expressed are mine and not the ABCs.


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