[Ads-l] "man" avoidance

Flourish Klink flourish.klink at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 24 22:06:02 EDT 2016


Why is it a limit case to say that it might be informative to know the
races of people? You opened this thread with "Erase sexist history!" I
would say that it *also* erases history not to point out that military
units were segregated at the time—as much as not more as it erases the fact
that men and not women were shooting down planes. (Erasure of military
segregation is *far* past the erasure of sexist history, by the way—just
watch the first *Captain America* movie and see his cheerful, multiracial
group of WWII soldiers who definitely would not have been permitted to
fight together; on the other hand, women are largely confined to their
accurate historical roles.) (Inasmuch as anything can be described as
"accurate" in a superhero movie of course.)

I brought this discussion up with a friend off-list, and he pointed out
that "men" and "women" are differentiated in the English language in the
way that (for instance) "older" and "younger" people are not, nor "people
of color" etc. I think this is the most convincing argument in favor of
using "men" and/or "women" over "people" that I've heard so far, but it
still doesn't explain to me why I would want to know about gender more than
I would want to know about race in this particular instance. Perhaps this
is what people have been pointing out by calling it silly, or a limit case,
that one would refer to African-American people in this context. However,
it also supports my grouchiness that our language (not just any one
individual!) takes gender as fundamental in a way that other things are
not. (And yes, of course, English takes gender as much *less* fundamental
than, say, Spanish...)

(I'm worried this is off topic by now!)

On Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 4:49 PM Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Nobody said that "gender" is "the most important aspect," but the writer
> seems to think  it's of no interest whatsoever.
>
> If you believe that "311 people" is clearer and more informative than "309
> men and two women," there's no point trying to persuade you. The specific
> mention of the two women would also forestall the misapprehension that all
> 311 members of a fighter group were men.
>
> The TMI principle seems to make the "non-African-American," etc., versions
> theoretically more informative but stylistically impossible - except as
> sarcasm in a tendentious, vastly different context.
>
> JL
>
>
>
> On Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 3:10 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > "...over the age of 18 mainly from working-class families...."
> >
> > JL
> >
> > On Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 2:47 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> >> On Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 12:42 PM, Jonathan Lighter <
> >> wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >> > One would not ordinarily write "309 non-African-American men and two
> >> > non-African-American women."
> >> >
> >>
> >> "Take it / To the limit / One more time"
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >> -Wilson
> >> -----
> >> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> >> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> >> -Mark Twain
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."
> >
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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