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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 8:17 AM.
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