Re: Mixed Message

Subject: Re: Mixed Message
From: Kim Wallace <kwallace -at- NEOSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 1996 21:52:20 -0500

Eta wrote:

>What this means is that although the original meaning was sex-neutral, our
>substitution of "person" etc., has given -man the meaning of male. The
>original meaning was not like that. (As David Dvorkin is trying to point
>out, our PC-ness caused the change.) It's like a case of "If it ain't broke,
>don't fix it." But we fixed it. The question is whether it can be un-fixed.
>Seems not.

I don't think that PC-ness changed usage. I think society's changes
prompted it. While the "intent" of -man may have been generic, its
application (and perception) was not. Many a Ladies' Auxiliary had a
"chairwoman", not a chairman.

It's not that things "weren't broke." The ending just didn't fit the
situation anymore.

Tech writers are (I believe) careful people by nature. We use great care
in crafting our sentences; I think this is just another item on the
checklist.

Kim Wallace


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