[lg policy] blog: He . . . She . . Ze?!: Most Absurd Language Police Yet

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at LEEDS.AC.UK
Thu Feb 18 00:02:54 UTC 2010

And yet....

In the 1980s there was a whole load of consciousness raising about gender neutral and racially sensitive language (etc).  This is going to be an area of permanent negotiation and there can't be a full pre-planned 'solution' of course, cos it doesn't work, as we know.

BUT.... that consciousness raising has had an effect. If you read something like "Any student who submits his paper late will fail the course" you know that either (a) it refers to an all-male institution; or (b) it dates from before around 1985; or (c) it is written by someone who is out of touch with modern prescriptions, usually someone who learnt their English in an Expanding Circle country; or (d) it is written by someone making a point that they disapprove of 'this feminism nonsense' (as an editor of English World-Wide once commented on my use of 'they' in a paper in 1984).

You also don't see 'half-caste' or 'cripple' used in reputable publishing unless for some special effect, either.

So the corpus planning has had an effect where it was suggesting alternatives WITHIN the possibilities of the language, but not where it involved inventing new pronouns. That's what works in this area. We all have to work to do our best to give offence only where we intend offence.

*     *     *     *     *
Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
*     *     *     *     *

From: lgpolicy-list-bounces+a.f.gupta=leeds.ac.uk at groups.sas.upenn.edu [lgpolicy-list-bounces+a.f.gupta=leeds.ac.uk at groups.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf Of Harold Schiffman [haroldfs at gmail.com]
Sent: 17 February 2010 18:02
To: Language Policy List
Subject: Re: [lg policy] blog: He . . . She . . Ze?!: Most Absurd Language      Police Yet


I originally forwarded this wild-eyed message to the listserv, not
because I agreed with it, but
because it touches on the issue of how corpus planning of various
sorts has failed in English.
By this I mean attempts to introduce new gender-neutral pronouns, such
as the form "Ze" noted
in this message, and others (I recall one from several decades ago:
"Te")  None of these, other
than the 'natural' development (using "they" as in "everybody should
bring their lunch") has
worked. So when another attempt to impose a new form comes along, I
have to agree with the
writer that it's not going to work.

I once tried to introduce my own version of a gender neutral pronoun:
I was writing so many instances
of "s/he" and needed a possessive version of his/her so I invented
"hsr"  which I used throughout the ms. of
a book, intending to do a global search later and replace "hsr" with
"his or her".  But I missed a few.  The
copy editor at Routledge set me straight, and my effort to innovate failed.

I don't know what would work in this area, but I know what doesn't work.

Hal S.

On Tue, Feb 16, 2010 at 7:45 PM, Anthea Fraser Gupta
<A.F.Gupta at leeds.ac.uk> wrote:
> Debbie clearly needs some help her to cope with her problems and address some of her prejudices, which include long hair [in men, I assume], punk music, lefties, lesbians, intergender people, transsexuals, Islam,  pedophilia, bestiality, people with psychiatric disorders, English teachers and of course, the University of Michigan).
> Anthea
> (for the record, I am a leftie feminist, and am prejudiced against people who get drunk, people who smoke, racists,  .... )
> *     *     *     *     *
> Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
> School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
> <www.leeds.ac.uk/english/staff/afg<http://www.leeds.ac.uk/english/staff/afg>>
> *     *     *     *     *
> ________________________________
> From: lgpolicy-list-bounces at groups.sas.upenn.edu [lgpolicy-list-bounces at groups.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf Of Jeremy Graves [jayrkirk42 at yahoo.com]
> Sent: 16 February 2010 20:17
> To: Language Policy List
> Subject: Re: [lg policy] blog: He . . . She . . Ze?!: Most Absurd Language Police Yet
> So we counter a ridiculously far-left policy with a ridiculously far-right one? Ms. Schlussel is as bad as the ones she's criticizing!
> -Jeremy Graves
> ________________________________
> From: Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com>
> To: lp <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
> Sent: Tue, February 16, 2010 7:32:28 PM
> Subject: [lg policy] blog: He . . . She . . Ze?!: Most Absurd Language Police Yet
> He . . . She . . Ze?!: Most Absurd Language Police Yet
> By Debbie Schlussel
> When I was a freshman at The University of Michigan, the thuggish,
> long-haired, far-left hippie in a punk band teaching assistant of my
> English class reduced a grade on my paper by a full grade because I
> used the word, “Congressman, ” and not the gender neutral,
> “Congressperson.”  I told him, “This is a bunch of verbal manure . . .
> or is that, ‘personure?’”  Thomas Sowell found out about it and
> mentioned it in one of his syndicated columns.  It was ridiculous, but
> at the time Michigan had an absurd “inclusive” language policy, which
> stated that if you used words like “he,” or “fireman,” or, even
> “mother,” you were being “uninclusive,” and therefore, you were
> somehow a bigot.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  But leftists get off on being the
> language and speech police. Stretching the limits on political
> correctness is their ultimate aphrodisiac.
> And, so, it’s no surprise that my alma mater is once again involved in
> this ridiculous  language orthodoxy.  While our Islamic enemies are
> teaching their kids to use guns, rig IEDs, and destroy us, some
> gender-ambiguous bizarro in the University of Michigan School of
> Social Work, Timothy Jean Corvidae, who wants the University to get
> rid of the use of gender specific pronouns like “he” and “she” in
> favor of “Ze.”  Corvidae is both a student and on the University of
> Michigan staff. The fact that Corvidae has a man’s name, but
> identifies on her/his/its/ze’s Facebook page as a woman (where
> he/she/it/ze looks like a pre-op male-to-female transsexual)
> interested in dating women, might have something to do with it. (It’s
> creepy to see a photo, above, of he/she/it/ze hugging a kid.)
> Sadly, the University faculty Senate is considering the measure to get
> rid of the pronouns, and could refer it Michigan’s President for
> approval.  Yes, “Idiocracy,” ain’t just a movie or our future.  It’s
> our present.  And, frankly, if they don’t identify with any of the
> genders, what if they identify with pedophiles or those who engage in
> bestiality.  They need to feel “included” in our language, too, don’t
> they?  It’s only fair if we’re gonna subvert English to the warped
> sexual urges and identities of every weirdo minority on earth. Maybe
> they can use the words “horse” and “camel” or “molesta [my new slang,
> hip word for child molestation, b/c who are we to judge that it's not
> cool, right?]” as adverbs.  “Molesta” went to the store with “camel’s”
> daughter.  “Molesta” didn’t have enough money to pay for candy for
> “camel daughter.” Yup, that’s, um, “gender neutral,” and is a whole
> lot more entertaining than “ze,” which just sounds like some former
> Nazi hiding in South America.
> Timothy Corvidae is a student in the University’s School of Social
> Work. Corvidae doesn’t identify with any specific gender and uses the
> pronoun “ze” instead of “she” or “he.”
> Yup, and far left professors are actually going along with this
> instead of failing this candy-ass like he/she/it/ze deserves. Uh-huh,
> exactly the type of “social worker” and future psychologist you
> want–someone who is that confused and insanely obsessed with gender
> pronouns. Corvidae is a member of a group of people on campus who face
> language barriers as a result of their decision to not identify with a
> specific gender. Though these individuals represent a minority of
> students, their cause has recently made its way to the forefront of
> campus discussion.
> Barriers? What barriers? Either you know how to speak English or you
> don’t. Recently the Michigan Student Assembly passed a resolution to
> recommend removing gender-specific language from the Statement of
> Student Rights and Responsibilities and some students and professors
> are discussing mandating the use of gender-neutral language in
> University classrooms. Ah, the far left Michigan Student Assembly.
> When I served on this “august body,” I was considered extreme far
> right for opposing similar language police declarations. They wanted
> to kick me off, but couldn’t.
> In its simplest form, gender-neutral language encompasses the use of
> the singular “they” as well as non-binary pronouns like ze, in place
> of the traditional he/she. This form of speech eliminates any word
> with connotations of gender like “chairman,” opting instead for the
> nonexclusive “chair.”  Yup, even the Republican Party, nationally and
> in Michigan, has already adopted using a piece of furniture as a
> faux-title, so, in essence, these nuts have basically already won or
> are on home stretch.  Corvidae said finding alternatives to the
> traditional gendered language is important because there is an intense
> level of exclusion in texts that only use binary language. “I don’t
> identify either way (as male or female),” Corvidae said. “When I read
> texts that use him or her, I feel like, ‘Where am I in this text?’ And
> it’s as though I’m invisible.”
> If only. Where are you? You’re not in the insane asylum, where you
> desperately belong. Anne Hermann, interim chair of the Women’s Studies
> Department, said eliminating gendered undertones is essential to
> ensure fairness in language. Getting rid of tenure for useless lesbian
> weirdos who teach worthless BS like this is essential to ensure
> fairness in education . . . or, rather, any education at all. And
> fairness for humans and Western society, for that matter. “If I were
> the ‘chairman’ of the Women’s Studies Department, there would be this
> incredible disconnect between my title and who I am,” she said. “And I
> would be constantly reminded that I’m not really supposed to be in my
> position.”
> OMG, I’m laughing my butt off. Is this for real? Am I actually reading
> this bad SNL skit? Noah Meeks is a volunteer at the Spectrum Center —
> the University’s office for LGBT affairs. Meeks said traditional
> debates over gender have been limited to eliminating language
> associated with men in situations that are meant to be all
> encompassing.
> “We rejected ‘he’ as an all-encompassing pronoun,” he said. “With ‘him
> or her,’ we need to recognize that some people don’t identify with
> either, and although there are few of them, they still need to be
> accounted for.”
> Um, yeah, some people don’t identify with the human species, and
> there’s a loony bin and medications ready to go. It’s not the language
> that needs to be altered. It’s some people . . . with shock therapy.
> “There’s more awareness, more openness and more resistance to the idea
> of a binary gender system,” he said.
> In recognition of non-gendered students on campus, the Michigan
> Student Assembly passed a resolution to amend the Statement of Student
> Rights and Responsibilities to use gender-neutral language exclusively
> as part of a package of recommendations to the student code.
> The resolution is currently being reviewed by the Senate Advisory
> Committee on University Affairs — the leading faculty governing body
> on campus — and if passed, will continue to University President Mary
> Sue Coleman for final approval.
> Loren Sherry, assistant director of the Spectrum Center, helped to
> compile the resolution. He said that when he went through the
> approximately 10-page Statement and replaced every use of binary
> language with a gender-neutral alternative, he was very specific about
> the choices he made.
> TEN pages for this BS?! Just draw a picture of a man with his penis
> cut-off (and Western civilization and the classics with their penises
> cut off). That only takes one page. And it says the same thing.
> In addition to the work by MSA and other student groups, in interviews
> last week many professors said they agree that gender-neutral thinking
> should be used in the classroom.
> Robin Queen, professor of linguistics, wrote in an e-mail interview
> with The Michigan Daily that educators should promote awareness about
> the exclusionary aspects of language.
> “The main issue, in my opinion, is to help writers (be they students,
> administrators, instructors or staff members) become aware that there
> are choices to be made and that those choices have consequences,”
> Queen wrote in the e-mail.
> Yeah, the choice to drop out of Michigan and go to a real university
> where they give you an education instead of subjecting you to this
> insane bullcrap. And the consequences that an “education” not even
> worthy of a Jonestown cult might some day cause people to wake up and
> stop funding these people with their tax money (Michigan is a public
> university relying heavily on state and federal funds and grants).
> Corvidae said teaching gender-neutral language is an important step
> because so many people are unaware of how to handle gender in their
> speech.
> “One of the biggest challenges with gender-neutral language is that
> people don’t know how to use it,” Corvidae said. “They feel
> embarrassed if they don’t know how to read people’s gender because
> that’s something that’s really important in our society.”
> Ding, ding, ding. You finally came close to reality. This whole
> episode is an embarrassment. I’d be embarrassed in the presence of
> anyone using “ze” as a pronoun. It’s bad enough to hear someone call
> themselves the “chair.”
> Corvidae said using gender-neutral language in the classroom allows
> students a “safe setting” to practice non-exclusionary speech.
> A safe setting? PUH-LEEZE. If I’m an Islamic terrorist, that giant
> swamp of limpness epitomized by humans is gonna be my first target.
> Ze-hu Akbar, Ka-Boom.
> Aric Knuth, lecturer in Department of English, said though he is often
> skeptical of new policies, he was surprised to hear no policy is in
> place.
> “It surprised me because we are people who are in the business of
> language,” he said. “And we understand how language interacts with and
> often represents other kinds of big intellectual problems in our
> lives.”
> Uh, dude, the big intellectual problem is that you have a job teaching
> English in the United States of America.
> Despite the lack of an official policy, professors continue to
> encourage the exploration of different language options.
> The Department of English ruled in favor of the singular “they” as
> grammatically correct, and many professors in the Women’s Studies
> Department implement gender-neutrality into their curriculum to some
> extent.
> LSA junior Kelsey Sovereign said gender-neutral thinking is strongly
> encouraged in her women’s studies classes.
> “In our society you often are either designated as a man or a woman,
> but we talk about not necessarily labeling things as one or the
> other,” she said.
> She’s right. Tomorrow, I’m gonna stop being unfair to bananas and call
> them soda. And apples, well . . . it’s not nice to exclude them from
> the meat group. Gonna call ‘em steak.
> She also said that specific assignments often call exclusively for
> gender-neutral language.
> Wow, someone’s parents are blowin’ a whole lot of money.
> Keith Reisinger, graduate student instructor for the Women’s Studies
> Department, said the issue reaches far beyond any departmental policy
> or the confines of the University.
> “I think we as a whole need to change how we talk about gender and
> people,” he said.
> Me, too. About Mr. Reisinger, “ze” is an idiot.
> Like I said, our enemies are teaching their kids how to kill us, and
> we’re too busy destroying masculinity, gender roles, and the English
> language with this absurd exercise in the trivial. And we wonder why
> they hate us.
> This is a sliver of why.
> http://www.debbieschlussel.com/17428/he-she-ze-most-absurd-language-police-yet/
> --
> **************************************
> N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
> its members
> and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
> or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
> Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
> (H. Schiffman, Moderator)
> For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to
> https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/
> listinfo/lgpolicy-list
> *******************************************
> _______________________________________________
> This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
> lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu<mailto:lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
> To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list
> _______________________________________________
> This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
> lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
> To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com


This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list