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#4334 07/23/00 06:39 PM
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tsuwm Offline OP
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>How far is "too far", and why?

For me, "too far" is simply when people try to change the language for frivolous reasons. I'll admit that "frivolous" is somewhat in the eyes of the beholder, but I'll use "niggardly" as an example. To me, this is a wonderfully descriptive word which connotes much more than mere stinginess and yet comes up short of miserly in that it lacks bad intent. It troubles me that we have to give up this word because of others' ignorance and/or ill behavior.

Another example is "business-speak" and the verbing of nouns, which was much discussed here earlier. In this case, I object to the creation of new words (where perfectly serviceable ones already exist), often out of just plain laziness. I would cite (if memory serves) the recent post which asked for a better word for the creation of a product than productize!!

Anyway, I would expand this argument to some of the words which have come out of the women's movement. What is inherently wrong with the word women? What could be more descriptive and (for the great majority) less pejorative? I think that most readers just react negatively to "womyn" and other such attempts. (I also, I hasten to add, abhor Rush Limbaugh's coinage "feminazi" :)

I considered posting this reply anonymously, because of my "history", but thought better of it since that would remove some of the context.

onymously yours,
michael


#4335 07/23/00 08:11 PM
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Good heavens, Michael, after all that fear and trembling, I
would have thought you might have signed off "Ominously yours"! I for one don't think of you as some kind of monster or something. I do think you have very strong opinions, and tend to stick by them!

>>For me, "too far" is simply when people try to change the language for frivolous reasons<< I agree, Dear!

>>"frivolous" is somewhat in the eyes of the beholder<<
Here, Babe, you have hit the bull's-eye. And no, it isn't an accident that I used that particular term of address.
I used it as one example of just what you were talking about, not because I think of you as one! Some people wouldn't mind it, others would be aggravated or worse.

There are quite a few (okay, a lot of) things that irritate me beyond all reason, that others aren't bothered by at all.
The only thing I can think of that would make these
occurrences throughout the world less frequent calls for one very basic precept:
BE CONSIDERATE! BOTH parties! The offended one, rather than say something like, "You're an ignorant fool and a jerk to use that word", would get a lot further by an,
"Excuse me, that term really bothers me, because..."
The offender is less likely to give a defiant response,
and even if he/she is not willing to give up using the term,
hopefully will at least not belittle the person's concern or deliberately continue to provoke by use of the term.

I have never thought of myself as a real feminist, so
perhaps my opinion of the word 'women' or 'woman' is not
that of the majority. I see nothing wrong with them. I do
think "womyn" is ridiculous--to me it fits under that
frivolous category you mentioned.

But, on the other hand--I do know that there is still a very
great deal of discrimination against women, I'm pretty sure
worldwide. We are perceived, sometimes even by ourselves,
as less able, less worthy, than men, in many scenarios. It is less obvious here in the U.S. than it was a generation ago, but it still exists. (Glass ceiling, for ex.) If the
"radical feminists" hadn't been so radical--demanding the
stoppage of discriminatory terms, for one thing--women here
would still be under the same overt, widely-accepted and
VERY limited regard that we were held in back then.

This all goes back to who has the power, I think. Not only
women, but black people as well, had to secure special laws
just to be able to vote. Why? Because the ones who enacted the laws denying them this right were white males.

It is human nature for the "haves" not to want to give anything up, whether it be power or money. I am thinking here of salary discrepancies. Theoretical situation: the
owner of a company, a man, knows perfectly well that his
female vice-president is doing as good a job as his male one, but if she doesn't get paid as much, he won't offer her a raise to equalize the two salaries. He knows that the company's income is limited, and if he gives her more
money, there will be less for him. This is a NOT-frivolous situation, wherein the female will need to speak up for
herself.

It is in situations where the "haves" refuse to either listen or change that the "have-nots" might just decide to
get radical.

And, there are ALL KINDS of minorities (have-nots) whose
concerns are just as important to them. Foreigners and the mentally ill come to mind. Just who is "acceptable",
anyway?



#4336 07/24/00 04:28 AM
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I was thinking about the word niggardly and how "pc-ness" (which BTW seems to be another created word which fits uncomfortably in the mouth, but is not considered an abombination)has stopped the use of this word. It struck me that perhaps the only role pcness has had in this situation is highlight how many people don't know what niggardly means. I don't think all of a sudden, with the rise of pcness, that vocabulary knowledge suddendly dwindled.

Perhaps when you were using the word before, some folks thought you meant "niggerly" and the baggage of connotations that carries with it and just didn't mind. Perhaps you were not delivering the exact message you meant, just didn't know it.


#4337 07/24/00 06:13 AM
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In Indonesian the basic third person singular pronoun is dia , which is used for everyone, male and female. Orang means person I suppose, but the usage is very different: for example you wouldn't say "a man" or "a woman", you'd say "seorang laki-laki " or " seorang wanita " (literally a man person or a woman person). You don't talk about your brothers and sisters you talk about your adik and kakak , your younger and older siblings. No need for linguistic engineering here. BUT nobody could reasonably claim that Indonesian society was somehow less sexist or discriminatory than the various Anglo-Saxon descended societies most AWAD posters come from.

Bingley


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#4338 07/24/00 08:10 AM
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>"Excuse me, that term really bothers me, because..."

I'm with Jackie here. Where the probem lies, for me, is not with the use of terms which relate to race/gender/disability ... differences but the American obsession with litigation, which unfortunately is spreading to the UK. I'm told that no college lecturer is safe from accusation by the students if they make any "incorrect" remark.

I quite agree with twusm (oh no!) on a number of things. Anyone who checks the etymology of the words would know that niggardly isn't racist and history doesn't relate to "him". I remember a situation at a (very politically inspired) place I used to work. The Director (who prided himself on his careful language (but not, necesssarily the underlying attititudes)) said that he was getting in painters to "tart up" the building. Some of the staff pointed out that he may wish to rephrase that. There was a discussion about the implications of the phrase "tart up" and the day continued as before as it would if a more overtly anything-ist term had been used. No suspensions, no loss of jobs, just a discussion. Behaving in an overtly discriminatory way may have been treated in more serious way.

I've looked up various discussions about "herstory" and it appears that where it originated was an article which discussed the invisibility of women in history. This is a reasonable argument. The word was not intended to replace "history" merely to highlight a issue. That it was been picked up and carried further probably highlights the strength of feeling on the subject of a tradition of history written by men than anything to do with etymology.

Womyn is similarly an attempt to highlight an issue, not an attempt to universally replace a term. As we are around 52% of the population, it is as unlikely that we will have a single point of view as that the 48% of men will discard communism, monetaryism, liberalism, pessimism, ... and talk with one voice.

Like the other words we have discussed - productize - novelize - the words that resonate with people will survive, those that don't wont.

In the meantime what is needed is an atmosphere (like this, I hope) where words and attitudes can be debated without fear. Was it George Orwell's 1984 where everyone had to use "newspeak"? Perhaps it is Big Brother who we should fear, not the words themselves.





#4339 07/24/00 01:39 PM
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tsuwm Offline OP
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>I'm told that no college lecturer is safe from
accusation by the students if they make any "incorrect" remark.

yes, and take that to a recent extreme and you have the Red Chinese "Cultural Revolution", where teachers were given dunce hats and mocked by students as tools of the bourgeoisie (on a good day).


#4340 07/24/00 01:48 PM
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> yes, and take that to a recent extreme and you have the Red Chinese "Cultural Revolution", where teachers were given dunce hats and mocked by students as tools of the bourgeoisie (on a good day).

I agree. Not to mention burning a few books.

Convergence?



#4341 07/24/00 01:59 PM
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jo,
you said what i wanted to say all along, but so much more eloquently!
the words that we need, we'll keep. the words we don't will die naturally.
one reason the world isn't under the control of big brother is that we are so different within all our various groups, even the ones at the top.
one question, why the acronyms? once you know them they are easy to read, but they seem to me to be a way of excluding the knows and the know nots.


#4342 07/24/00 02:12 PM
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tsuwm Offline OP
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>a way of excluding the knows and the know nots.

unfortunately, for all the truly helpful folks you can find on the 'net, there are (not) a few who revel in being the "knows" of the web...


#4343 07/24/00 03:03 PM
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Perhaps one of the knows would be so kind as to interpret YCLIU for this know not then.

Bingley


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