guys again

carter pate (CPATE@UTCVM.BITNET)
Wed, 4 Jan 1995 13:10:22 EST

John Ford legitimately does not wish to be included in Leif Hendricksen's type
of "guys." But in view of the various regional semantic variations around
"guys" which were explored only a few eeks ago on this list, maybe there's a sm
all lesson for all of us. (See JF's post 1/4 am.)

If we are offended by any single use of a word, perhaps before we pop off,
we ought to ask the writer or speaker if it was really used in the sense to
which we respond so strongly. I remember a summer student camp years ago,
where a Georgia farm boy was almost sent home because he pointed a finger at a
Northern girl and playfully said "I'm going to goose you!" When my scandalized
Pennsylvania roommate told me about this, I immediately asked, "What's wrong
with that? In East Texas, we bounce a child on our knee, say "I'm going to
goose you," and gently tickle the child in the ribs (as in some current Pillsbu
ry dough boy commercials). It seems my roommate hastened to the camp leaders
and the incident was soon forgotten.

A colleague recently reminded me that German uses Mann in the same way the
French use "on." "Mann sprecht . . " leasves some ambiguity whether the
speaker is denigrating the feminine persuassion, intentinally or unintention-
ally. Shouldn't we try to clear up the ambiguity before we jump to censure--
if and when censure will serve any constructive purpose?

Is anyone listening?