Re: Sapir, Whorf, Language, Gender, etc.

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Sun, 8 Jan 1995 18:35:07 -0500

Fry's use of "mankind."I had objected once before, and he had seemed to
indicate that he recognized the validity of my suggestion. When he used
the "m" word again, it started this language debate (that's a dignified
word for what ensued, because he then went on to a long posting in which
he listed all the words he could think of containing the syllable "man."
What I really want to say is in l98l-82, my sabbatical year, I went back
to Montreal, my home town (where I lived until 2l), to examine the impact
of the Parti Quebecois's dictum that French was to be not only the first
language but the only language, on the attempts by feminist Francophone and
Anglophone speakers to eradicate masculine dominance in both languagaes.
To start with, I immersed myself in French, in which I used to be fluent,
and that was a good experience. I must say, the Francophone feminists
were the most radical feminists I had encountered, and the result of the
efforts of both groups was that not only did the n ational government in
Ottawa and the Quebec government made many changes in both languages, so
that much of the male linguistic dominance was eradicated. Very nice to
hear from you. Bonne Annee. Ruby Rohrlich