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But the problem with the ending -man is that its meaning never did
What changed was that some people misunderstood its meaning and confused
it with another word and therefore objected to its use.
I disagree--the meaning has changed. The only thing I can show as
support for my argument is my own experience. When I was learning the
language, I always thought "-man" meant someone who was male, not inclusive
of both genders. When I first heard about the debate over this issue I was
in high school. I remember being completely surprised that some people were
saying that "-man" actually meant women too. That was alien to my
experience and I couldn't help wondering what was going through these
peoples' heads. It turns out those other people were thinking the same
thing about my perspective.
I was brought up to do the following:
Chairman = male
Chairwoman = female
each of these used to address the individual specifically
Chairperson or Chair= the position
used when gender isn't relevant
Doesn't consistent use constitute defacto meaning of a word? How do
meanings of words change if this isn't the case?