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Thread: PC mindful writing, 2019

  1. #1
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    PC mindful writing, 2019

    Politically Correct syntax has been around a long time now, and it remains controversial, at least at the edges. I'm curious about some of older changes, what has stuck, what is still evolving, for example.

    Gender neutral language, which I see as two groups, pronouns and nouns.

    I don't take fanciful neologisms seriously for the most part, and that includes the various invented pronouns that already (in my opinion) exist mostly in satirical commentary. But writers abandoned the default male pronouns for a variety of constructions. For example,
    1. Traditional, default male pronouns: A writer seldom submits his first draft.
    2. Using both male and female pronouns: A writer seldom submits his or her first draft. or A writer seldom submits his/her first draft.
    3. Substituting a definite article: A writer seldom submits the first draft.
    4. Repeating the noun: A writer seldom submits the writer's first draft. (This construction I've really only heard in sermons that avoided pronouns for "God," or invented pronouns of astonishing awkwardness like "Godself.")
    5. Inventing new pronouns (see the example just above): A writer seldom submits xir first draft.
    6. Using plural pronouns despite a singular antecedent: A writer seldom submits their first draft.
    7. Alternating male and female pronouns (in extended text): A writer seldom submits her first draft. He reworks it several times. I've seen pronoun alternation by paragraph or section, but it's always very noticeable.


    Personal nouns often included a male or female syllable, and many have been changed successfully, in my opinion. But I also think we can be grown-ups and recognize that men and women are part of humanity, for example.
    1. New titles: Mailman becomes mail carrier; fireman becomes firefighter.
    2. Syllables changed: Spokesman becomes spokesperson. Often a woman becomes the spokesperson; a man remains the spokesman.
    3. Syllable addresses a particular case: She is the chairwoman of the committee; he is the chairman. (Or, per #1 in this list, each is the chair of the committee.)

    A long time ago, when women entered an occupation dominated by men, a gender-specific noun was invented, such as editoress and doctoress. These have all died, I think.

    And eons ago, women were ignored regardless. My favorite example is Exodus 12:37, The Israelites set out on foot from Rameses for Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 men, not counting women and children. (This is the Good News translation, and pretty weak. Of course "men" doesn't count women and children. But other translations on my shelf have it, "There were about 600,000, not counting women and children," missing the word "men" but firmly including an implication about who mattered and who did not.)

    Personally I favor euphony and simplicity. "Godself" doesn't have a prayer. And I think unless a new word like "firefighter" works easily, we should just stick to the traditional words and get over ourselves. "The Wichita Lineperson" is a terrible song.

    I noticed some movement to drop the female designation of boats, something I don't have an opinion about. I wonder if cars will be similarly neutraled. I'm inclined to think people who get exercised about that should tackle some Romance languages and get back to English later.
    Last edited by Newman; Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 at 7:17 AM.
    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

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    When I was a young attorney I noticed that the older (by about 20 years, so they were in their mid-to late 40's and above) referred to female attorneys as "women attorneys". As an example "Gail is a good woman attorney". I called my then boss on it one day, asking why he never used the term "male attorney" when speaking of one. He seemed dumbfounded by my question. As I got more comfortable with other members of the bar, I began saying it to them as well. Similar looks of bewilderment. It's been nearly 30 years and, for the most part, that has all passed.

    I still cherish my "Man of the Year" Award though. I liked that the guys that voted to give it to me didn't change the name of it. They found humor in it, as did I.

    When I was a young attorney, in all divorce proceedings, if the wife hadn't taken the husband's last name upon marriage she had to sign a verified statement that she had never used his name for public or legal purposes. At a seminar with the judges and the divorce administrator I asked why the husband's didn't have to likewise sign such an affidavit since there was no law compelling either one to take the surname of the other. There was stunned silence from the judges and then slow applause from the "women attorneys". The following month the requirement was dropped.

    I was kind of a pita when I was a young attorney.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

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    I was a “male nurse” for at least the first ten years of my career.
    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Jingo View Post
    No, you do. Except when you go full frontal white supremacy. Then they just pretend you didn’t say that. They do that with all their bigots except Lady Marva. That is probably because her racism is clumsy. But so is Mark’s but in a Trumpian acceptable way, I guess.

    But you? You are rarely challenged here (other than by Bane) and even then, when Celeste forgets how much she loves her gun, it is exceedingly mild.

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    Quote Originally Posted by phillygirl View Post
    When I was a young attorney I noticed that the older (by about 20 years, so they were in their mid-to late 40's and above) referred to female attorneys as "women attorneys". As an example "Gail is a good woman attorney". I called my then boss on it one day, asking why he never used the term "male attorney" when speaking of one. He seemed dumbfounded by my question. As I got more comfortable with other members of the bar, I began saying it to them as well. Similar looks of bewilderment. It's been nearly 30 years and, for the most part, that has all passed.

    I still cherish my "Man of the Year" Award though. I liked that the guys that voted to give it to me didn't change the name of it. They found humor in it, as did I.

    When I was a young attorney, in all divorce proceedings, if the wife hadn't taken the husband's last name upon marriage she had to sign a verified statement that she had never used his name for public or legal purposes. At a seminar with the judges and the divorce administrator I asked why the husband's didn't have to likewise sign such an affidavit since there was no law compelling either one to take the surname of the other. There was stunned silence from the judges and then slow applause from the "women attorneys". The following month the requirement was dropped.

    I was kind of a pita when I was a young attorney.
    Me too. Depending on the context, still am, but I very seldom get the "little lady" treatment now that my hair is all gray.
    No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. This offer VALID in 35 34 33 32 31 26 20 17 15 14 13 ALL 50 states.

    The new 13 original states to stand up for freedom: CA, CT, IA, MA, DE, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, ME, MD, NJ (plus DC).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celeste Chalfonte View Post
    Me too. Depending on the context, still am, but I very seldom get the "little lady" treatment now that my hair is all gray.
    Yeah. I was never militant about it. It helped that I was attractive and smart and have a deadly sarcastic side, which I tried to mostly keep in check, but it would come out. I once got thrown out of court because of it.

    Mostly, I was able to sidestep most of the sexual harassment stuff with well placed humor. It usually got the point across without being too bitchy about it. However, being single, I was a frequent target of "interested" judges and lawyers. The lawyers were easy to handle. The judges took a bit more finesse.

    I never liked being called a "chair". I'd rather be called a chairman or chairperson. Although, I didn't mind "Madam President". I will not stand for "she" or "her". It's incredibly rude for someone to simply use that pronoun rather than using my name or even using "counselor". I went on a bit of a rant on one attorney for that. He actually apologized and told me had had no idea that it was considered rude and thanked me for it. If I ever referred to my mother as "she" or "her" during a complaint I'd have my face slapped. I learned early that using the pronoun instead of a name or title could be deadly to my personal freedom.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
    Robert Southwell, S.J.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman View Post
    Politically Correct syntax has been around a long time now, and it remains controversial, at least at the edges. I'm curious about some of older changes, what has stuck, what is still evolving, for example.

    Gender neutral language, which I see as two groups, pronouns and nouns.

    I don't take fanciful neologisms seriously for the most part, and that includes the various invented pronouns that already (in my opinion) exist mostly in satirical commentary. But writers abandoned the default male pronouns for a variety of constructions. For example,
    1. Traditional, default male pronouns: A writer seldom submits his first draft.
    2. Using both male and female pronouns: A writer seldom submits his or her first draft. or A writer seldom submits his/her first draft.
    3. Substituting a definite article: A writer seldom submits the first draft.
    4. Repeating the noun: A writer seldom submits the writer's first draft. (This construction I've really only heard in sermons that avoided pronouns for "God," or invented pronouns of astonishing awkwardness like "Godself.")
    5. Inventing new pronouns (see the example just above): A writer seldom submits xir first draft.
    6. Using plural pronouns despite a singular antecedent: A writer seldom submits their first draft.
    7. Alternating male and female pronouns (in extended text): A writer seldom submits her first draft. He reworks it several times. I've seen pronoun alternation by paragraph or section, but it's always very noticeable.


    Personal nouns often included a male or female syllable, and many have been changed successfully, in my opinion. But I also think we can be grown-ups and recognize that men and women are part of humanity, for example.
    1. New titles: Mailman becomes mail carrier; fireman becomes firefighter.
    2. Syllables changed: Spokesman becomes spokesperson. Often a woman becomes the spokesperson; a man remains the spokesman.
    3. Syllable addresses a particular case: She is the chairwoman of the committee; he is the chairman. (Or, per #1 in this list, each is the chair of the committee.)

    A long time ago, when women entered an occupation dominated by men, a gender-specific noun was invented, such as editoress and doctoress. These have all died, I think.

    And eons ago, women were ignored regardless. My favorite example is Exodus 12:37, The Israelites set out on foot from Rameses for Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 men, not counting women and children. (This is the Good News translation, and pretty weak. Of course "men" doesn't count women and children. But other translations on my shelf have it, "There were about 600,000, not counting women and children," missing the word "men" but firmly including an implication about who mattered and who did not.)

    Personally I favor euphony and simplicity. "Godself" doesn't have a prayer. And I think unless a new word like "firefighter" works easily, we should just stick to the traditional words and get over ourselves. "The Wichita Lineperson" is a terrible song.

    I noticed some movement to drop the female designation of boats, something I don't have an opinion about. I wonder if cars will be similarly neutraled. I'm inclined to think people who get exercised about that should tackle some Romance languages and get back to English later.
    I have always wondered why there was a distinction between men and women in the acting business. Shouldn't they all just be called actors?
    May we raise children who love the unloved things - the dandelion, the worm, the spiderlings.
    Children who sense the rose needs the thorn and run into rainswept days the same way they turn towards the sun...
    And when they're grown and someone has to speak for those who have no voice,
    may they draw upon that wilder bond, those days of tending tender things and be the one.

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    I have always wondered why there was a distinction between men and women in the acting business. Shouldn't they all just be called actors?
    In fact that one (actress) seems to be fading, too.

    Some old words are trickier. I don't know a "male" equivalent for seamstress, for example. Seamster?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbit
    I was a “male nurse” for at least the first ten years of my career.
    Before the operation?


    I know male nurses have become commonplace, but I remember when their appearance was often quite a surprise to the patient. Not a few of the old men patients were grumpy not to see a pretty young attendant. Maybe that's still so, but I doubt as much. My D-I-L's father has been a nurse his entire career (mostly ER). I should ask about his experiences someday.

    I suspect the "nurse" transition was a bit like that of airline stewardesses, who once would be fired for gaining weight. I'm curious that the men weren't simply stewards, but that an entirely new word was used.
    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

  11. #8
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    Another fader is heroine, I think.

    I remember one night a school function intended to celebrate student achievers had a program emblazoned with the title, Hero and Heroin Night.

    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

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