Re: : Korean Shamanism

Martin Cohen (mcohen@UCLA.EDU)
Sat, 4 Nov 1995 17:27:25 -0800

On Sat, 4 Nov 1995, Allan Dunn wrote:
The "grammar police"
>have two crossed purposes; one group wants to maintain the language
>conservatively, the other wants to make it "better." Both are misusing
>the concept of language, which is an evolved process drawing on old
>usages that are adapted for new ideas, and subsequently changed by
>communication of these ideas. It starts with the ideas.

The real problem (and this is where the facist implications of the term
"language police" are appropriate) is that it is OK to say how you wish the
language was being used; but even if you are on the side of the angels, you
have no right the tell a language community how to speak. To insist that I
use gender neutral terms (which I generally do, but that is beside the
point), is as wrong as insisting on "English only" laws or stigmatizing
Black Venacular English. It is the extremes of Whorfianism to believe that
we can eliminate gender discrimination by cleaning up the language. Better
to seek change in laws, institutions and workplace, and of course in how we
raise our children. Language will follow, it won't lead. "PC" language is
creating an irrational and dangerous backlash among people who
understandably balk at being told how to speak and think. The moral is
that you should chose your fights carefully.