Gender and Language

Scott Holmes (sholmes@NETCOM.COM)
Mon, 2 Jan 1995 12:02:19 -0800

the "bottom line" in gender and language arguments. For those actually
interested in this topic and wish some historical perspective I
recommend the December archives of ansax-l. During that month quite
a considerable thread was generated on gender in old European languages.
This thread was conducted without the intemperate use of innuendo
found here and with senses of humor kept intact. I believe this is
archived on the Labyrinth (

I've yet to see a truly compelling reason for ungendered language. The
best (IMHO) is the case for politeness. I'm not a sociologist nor a
specialist in language development but it is my observation that language
changes far more rapidly to suit cultural conditions than the obverse.
The word "Guy" has cropped up a number of times in this thread and has
been noted as "desexed" through common usage. "Guy" is not a "red-flagged"
term. "Mankind", I think, had been asexual (in common usage) until it
was targetted by the language police. My own use of the phrase
"Neolithic Man" never entered into this discussion, perhaps because it
was used in association with violence. And, we all know "Man" is the
source of violence (check your irony filter toggle switches please).

Anyway, if a truly compelling argument does exist for degendering
language (or any other point of contention) it will not be accepted if
continually associated with anger and distain. To deliberately blind
oneself to communication is only self defeating. To do battle with the
"Evil Empire" one must remain aware of what "they" are doing and thinking.
(Who said "Know thy enemy."?)

----------- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, ----------------
Scott Holmes <> Informix 4GL Applications
---------------- Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ------------------------