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#1480 - 04/19/00 07:32 AM "Journeyman" and gender
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
It appears Jo/jmh is leading the way (re: "graduation" board). Congrats on being the first journeyman here, Jo.

This term brings to mind the question of genderless titles, and the use of the masculine pronoun after an antecedent. As a copy editor, I try to use the plural when at all possible ("all students should turn in their homework"), and I'll gladly choose "chairwoman" over "chairperson" - but in this case I just cannot picture "journeywoman." The grammar of other languages I know usually takes the decision out of our hands perforce, but English -- ah, she is tricky. Any comments? Any style manuals anyone would recommend?



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#1481 - 04/19/00 09:00 AM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10508
Loc: this too shall pass
re: genderless pronouns

This is one of those ongoing controversies that I just don't "get" (but then I wouldn't, being a guy). Someone (somewhere) suggested that, rather than agonizing over clumsy formulations just to stay gender neutral, one should just do what comes naturally: use his own gender. Who, in her right mind, would argue with that? (An alternate approach would be to utilize the gender of your projected audience if it's not mixed.)

Oh, I suppose you would if you wanted to remain gender anonymous, but then you're stuck with clumsy formulations and, worse, the reader being distracted and saying to himself "what is the hidden agenda of this writer?"


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#1482 - 04/19/00 10:46 AM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I think the anonomity thing is a bit of a problem. I remember a friend making a statement to a newspaper which then quoted her as a "spokeswoman" for the organisation - as it was a 99% male organisation it made her stand out more than she would have wished.

I have had a long debate about "Chair" recently. I dislike all the alternatives so I tend to avoid it by making lengthy statements like "in the chair".

The underlying question is does change come about by changing the language or by changing the situation of women in society. I really like terms like "firefighter" which make me think that I could be one if I wanted to be one. Changing "man" to "person" tends to sound contrived.

I can tsuwm see why doesn't get it - it's probably just a girl thing (world domination, that is).


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#1483 - 04/19/00 03:16 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
I certainly prefer genderless terms mainly for reasons of good manners, using firemen is to fail to recognise the real risk that female firefighters make. Whinging about 'political correctness' because someone is to lazy to make a few simple changes to their speech doesn't endear me either. Using 'person' may seem contrived and a little awkward but then saying please or thank you can also seem like this at times. Having said this I hope that some terms will lose their gender specific quality in time. Certainly a group of 'lads' will often include women these days and I would rather 'lads' gained the sense of 'pals' than the ugly neologism 'ladettes' gained popular usage.

A form of political 'correctness' I do find offensive however is the commercialisation of some terms. Patients (derived from the Greek for suffering) have become clients (the people who pay in a professional relationship), passengers are now customers etc. The latest form of Orwellian Newspeak I came across was the rather sinister reverse of this where the people who work in a supermarket are no longer staff but are address by their managers as colleagues I suppose an attempt at deemphasizing the unequal relationship between poorly paid checkout staff and better paid managers. As Orwell said War is Peace and colleague is ?


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#1484 - 04/19/00 03:37 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10508
Loc: this too shall pass
>Certainly a group of 'lads' will often include women these days

here in the colonies, women at work will often opt (when asked) to be included in "the guys", I suppose as a lesser of many evils.


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#1485 - 04/20/00 01:51 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Two thoughts -

i) Where did the term "politically correct" come from - was it those who were being "politically correct" (like Philip I tend to think it is more about good manners) or is it really a put-down from those who were opposed to it. I suspect the latter.

I think there has always been a lot of propaganda by those trying to pour scorn on the idea. For example I was working in London when the GLC (Greater London Council, now abolished) was rife with rumours that it wasn't acceptable to use a black board or drink black coffee. I think they were like urban myths, blown out of all proportion by a largely reactionary press.

ii) A way round the problem, like tsuwm's idea of tailoring your words to your audience, is that as it was mainly "man" as in "chairman", "postman" for most of the last millennium we could use "woman" for at least the first half of this millennium, then we could swap back for the next few hundred years ...


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#1486 - 04/20/00 05:53 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
blue Offline
stranger

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 5
So interesting that we still can't get away from man, even though we switch genders. How about a new one-syllable
word for the the fe-male gender?


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#1487 - 04/20/00 07:00 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10508
Loc: this too shall pass
jmh writes: "...we could use "woman" for at least the first half of this millennium, then we could swap back for the next few hundred years..."

<G> here's an even better idea that would let people see democracy in action: use "woman" whenever we have a woman president and "man"...

*<8-)


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#1488 - 04/20/00 07:41 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
Perhaps since we seem to have widely adopted 'kid' for children we should adopt 'nanny' and 'billy' to avoid gender terms which appear to make women a subset of men. I also quite like the various spellings of women that take the men out of it (wimmin, wymyn, &c.) Perhaps we should also lobby for changes at other levels; homo sapian (thinking man) should be replaced with the more evolutionary accurate and none gender specific anthropoid sapian (thinking ape).

There are also times when changing the language is not the answer to changing attitudes and more fundamental changes have to occur or we get the silly situation where words just develop two opposing meanings (as in 'health care' which is, of course, concerned with illness)


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#1489 - 04/21/00 02:31 PM Re: "Journeyman" and gender
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I'm not sure that the second part of your message is really "political correctness" - I suspect cynical marketing speak is at work, trying to make railway staff think of us as customers when we all know we are really passengers.

Calling even very junior staff colleagues or team members is about trying to build self-esteem but I think you're right it just devalues the words in the end. People know when they really are just drones. I wonder how the staff of John Lewis' (UK department store) feel about being called "partners" - which they always have been - although some have always been more equal than others.


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