View Single Post
Old 08-31-2012, 12:29 AM   #122
Prestidigitweeze
Fledgling Demagogue
Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.Prestidigitweeze ought to be getting tired of karma fortunes by now.
 
Prestidigitweeze's Avatar
 
Posts: 2,203
Karma: 24642771
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: White Plains
Device: Aura HD; Nexus 7; PRS-350, 950; Kindle K; OnePlus One; Galaxy S4; MBP.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WT Sharpe View Post
Not bad. "Hur" would sound too much like "her", "Har" would be too much like a laugh, "Hir" sounds too much like "Here" or "Hire", and that leaves only one other of the five regular vowels as a possibility, and I don't even want to go there...
Actually, I offered the same substitution several pages back (though the other two substitutions are inelegant):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prestidigitweeze

An example of gender combinations: hir (for her or him), hes (for hers or his) and hse (for she and he).
I thought I'd made up the pronoun hir but was fairly certain I hadn't the first to think of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuantumIguana View Post

I said that was part of it, but I didn't "insist" on anything. I simply observed the fact that the culture in the English-speaking world was strongly sex-segregated and no longer is today. I further observed the fact that as culture became less sex-segregated, the generic "he" fell out of favor. I simply don't think that is coincidence. Yes, sex-bias is part of the language, but why is it part of the language? Why is that bias there in the first place? I submit that at, least partially, this bias comes from sex-segregation. . . .
Not to fisk, but there seems to be a disconnect between that broad intention and the specifics of what was written. At issue was the idea that usage is entirely due to the idea of formerly gender-defined occupations.

I would argue that, while sexism encompasses gender segregation, its embedding in language (spec. gender-inclusive pronouns in English) precedes segregation. If (and I say this as an agnostic), "in the beginning, there was the word," wouldn't the presumption of gender separation be preceded by the presumption of gender dominance?

Quote:
[Bias in language] arises from the assumptions made when the language came into being.
I don't think anyone is disputing that sexism is embedded in language because the articulation of thought was once inseparable from the suppositions of the thinker. But I wouldn't insist on retroactive theories of origin based on my observation of the slow disappearance of gender predominance in various professions. Too inductive, wouldn't you say?

Quote:
Actually, it's quite easy to remove. The generic "he" is falling out of favor, while the singular "they" is ascendant. It doesn't matter whether you favor or oppose such a language change, it's happening. Dictionaries are waving the white flag on the issue. I should say it is easy to remove in English, which is what we are discussing.
You're arguing from the point of view of usage, where the battle is largely won. I'm arguing from the point of view of structural clarity, where consensus doesn't matter and the battle, so far, has been lost.

Quote:
Bias in language would be much more difficult to remove in Spanish, where even a table has a gender.
Again, I've said exactly the same thing using a different romance language as an example. I haven't seen anyone here disagree with that idea, though I do wonder whether you've been reading the posts to which you've responded.

The problem with presuming that an historical precedent for they trumps the need for a gender-neutral pronoun is the absence of its systematic adoption in earlier times.

I would suggest that varied use and substitution could imply an inconsistency bred of vacillation, intended variety, remnants of earlier grammatical forms or mere carelessness. But then again, that is an unsubstantiated theory based on what is perhaps my persnickety need for organization which comes from years of formal training as a classical musician. In absolute music, syntax is always as pure as the composer chooses to make it.

* * * * *

An aside:

I've continued posting on this thread because, for the most part, the interaction has been impassioned but civil. I haven't felt the impress of an us/them agenda that blinds people to counterarguments here, as I often have on threads about copyright law and DRM. Why not savor a good point whenever someone makes it whether it serves your argument or not?

I mention this only because the tone is to be commended, and it is the result of the contributions of nearly everyone here.

Last edited by Prestidigitweeze; 09-01-2012 at 01:05 PM.
Prestidigitweeze is offline   Reply With Quote