"For us let it be enough to know ourselves to be in the place where God wants us, and carry on our work, even though it be no more than the work of an ant, infinitesimally small, and with unforeseeable results."
-- Abbé Monchanin

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Problem of Inclusive Language

I've been pondering the trend toward inclusive language. And I've become a bit puzzled. It seems that things may be backfiring. 

For example, it's OK to refer to someone as human. Why don't we use human and huwoman? We've taken human as a generic term that is inclusive rather than gender specific. 

Then we use chairman and chairwoman when we know the gender of the chairperson. But that final word presents a problem. We treat it as generic rather than distinguishing a person from a perdaughter. Why? 

Maybe it would be easier to just define some words as generic and no longer gender specific. It seems that when we try to fight the way languages are structured, we're emphasizing gender specific issues rather than removing them. 

Which brings me to the old joke (best told orally but I'll attempt it in print): 

Why do we sing AMEN at the end of the songs at church rather than AWOMEN? Because they're HYMNS and not HYRS. (Hiss! Boo! Go away! NOW!)

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