Re: Evolving language or laziness?

Subject: Re: Evolving language or laziness?
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 15 Mar 1996 08:12:00 EST

At 10:37 AM 3/15/96 +1100, you wrote:
>For all those who remain to be conviced that he is not gender neutral. I
>have a good test for you.

>Get two pictures, one representing male and one female, the stick figures
>used for bathroom doors would be fine. Then sit anyone down and ask them
>to point to the appropriate picture for each word you give them. Then
>one at a time show them :



>I am prepared to bet that in almost every case all of the he, him and
>his words will go towards the male representation. If he is gender
>neutral then on the word "he" you should get equal pointing to the male
>and female picture.

>I doubt this would be the case


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

>Yes this test could be improved, but I have to do some work this morning

>The opinions expressed are mine and not the ABCs

Got another test for you, Colleen...find a stranger and give him a
hypothetical case or another involving a gender-neutral situation, such as
"An individual approaches two doors, each with a different symbol on it.
What is the first thing this individual should do?" See how many people say
"Well, he or she.." Most educated (And I don't just mean anointed with a
degree) would instantly blurt out "He should..."

I mentioned something in another post that I should probably mention here,
too. Colleen, I'm not belitting your feelings. They're yours and you're
entitled to them. But feelings shouldn't dictate something as fundamental as
language structure. I'm offended by some uses of language, particularly one
post that flamed the living hell out of me. But I don't suggest changing the
language, or eliminating blasphemies from the language. What I'm appalled by
are companies that smile at your pretty little elfin faces and offer you the
sop of saying "Their" instead of "his," smile at you and pat you on your
pretty little heads, when inside the companies there are no provisions for
day care, no equal pay, and precious little promotional opportunity. But I
understand those are big fights, while language changes are smaller and look
easier. I just don't buy the argument that if we raise our sons and
daughters on gender-neutral language, they'll all be happy little equals.

Your grandmothers fought for the vote (or at least a sizeable minority of
them did). Your mother (figuratively speaking) fought for the rights to
abortion, and to contraception. (Although admittedly they did fall down
about the ERA.) They didn't grouse about gender-neutrality. It's those
valiant individuals who have moved forward women's causes. If I were female,
I'd have to believe that I'd be mortally offended at companies that gave me
gender-neutral language in the same way they'd have said in past years
"Okay, now, you silly little female, we'll give you this just to keep you
quiet. We all know how silly girls are about their FEELINGS, after all." I'm
afraid my response would have to be "Screw my feelings, Mr. Corporation, and
screw your contributions to the English language. Give money to a battered
women's shelter. Give me day care. Those I can use."

Tim Altom
Vice President
Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice)
317.899.5987 (fax)

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