Saturday, May 21, 2016

Language and Gender

The Washington Post has a reasonable take on language and the recent dictum on how to use it in New York City. It concludes:

Feel uncomfortable about being forced to use terms that express social status views (“Milord”) or religious views (“Your Holiness”) that you may not endorse? Well, you should feel uncomfortable about people being forced to use “ze,” which expresses a view about gender that they might not endorse. And, more broadly, I think we should all feel uncomfortable about government regulators forcing people to say things that convey and support the government’s ideology about gender.

But there is a bigger problem. You see the Romance Languages, such as Spanish, have gender specific nouns, verbs, etc. So if this applies to English does that mean we must change all of our Spanish, and the list goes on, to gender non specific. I remember my first Latin word when I was still quite young, agricola. Farmer. It is feminine. It was not until now that I wonder why it is feminine, I assume most farmers were men or at most fifty fifty back in 100 BC.

Perhaps when I look at my Italian, French. Greek, Russian as well I am going to have a problem. It is not discriminatory to change one language, why not all 235 spoken in New York. We are discriminating against English. Think of all those subway signs.

I have been using they, theirs and them just to avoid sex discrimination. Yes I know it is grammatically incorrect but it got me out of a few sensitive discussions. But this perhaps is a step too far. Then again there is that pesky First Amendment, but well who cares about those first Ten Amendments anyhow!