"politics" and "guys"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Dec 2 23:05:12 UTC 2006


  Some weeks back, IIRC, I posted an example of "politics" used in the narrow sense of "simple power relationships in society; the jockeying for influence or power," or however you care to phrase it.  Some of you replied that that's pretty much what "politics" always means.
  As you wish, post-Hobbesians.

  As I write, though, the Discovery Science Channel is rebroadcasting a 2003 rock-u-sock-u-mentary called _Walking with Cavemen_. It makes a reference to "politics" among members of a _Homo erectus_ troop.

   _H. erectus_ is, of course, the human ancestor most familiar through the fossil known as "Lucy."  These small critterfolk walked erect but seem to have had nothing comparable to a language enabling them to make political speeches, discuss nuances of governing, etc.  So their "politics" must have been  pretty close to animal dominance relationships. The show's narration doesn't even try to suggest otherwise.

  Pt. 2

  Long, long ago I made vague reference to Douglas R. Hofstadter's crusade against generic "you guys."  By chance, I've stumbled again onto the source, and here it is:

  1997 D. R. Hofstadter _Le Ton Beau de Marot_ (N.Y.: Basic Books) 202: In my view, the most pervasive - and for that reason by far the most serious - disease of sexist usage infecting contemporary American English is the to-many-people-innocuous-sounding phrase "you guys" (and related ways of using "guys" in directly addressing a group of people)....

  And so on for a couple of oversize pages.


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