Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Page 9 of 13 1 2 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
#4384 08/01/00 08:06 PM
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 163
J
member
Offline
member
J
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 163
>people were as smart as us 50, 500, or 5000 years ago, and they talked about the same things and they invented new words
William,
I agree with that, but intelligence has nothing to do with respect or sensibility. While I wrote my previous posting I had my mother in law -who is 83- in mind. She is as clever as anyone can be and uses to employ pejorative words when referring to some groups of people, specially when referring to incapacitated children. And the worst of all, she means them.
From this attitude I can deduce that or my mother in law is specially mean, which probably she is, or that when she was younger everybody talked the same way, which must be true too. And I cannot help but imagining a time when everybody talked this way and despised openly every other who was different.
And the words they invented were mainly meant to be descriptions of the differences between “normal” ones and different ones. For example my mother in law calls “tontito” (silly, idiot) to children who I learned to call “mongolico/subnormal” when I was a kid. Now I call them “Down children”. The first words were descriptive of the limitations or physical aspect of those children and the last one is, simply, a syndrome name. So in this case I think the evolution has been positive. What is more important, when my mother in law was my age she could employ those words in a scornful way and, probably, only the child’s parents would have been offended. Now, I can tell you, the worst arguments I have had with her have been about this kind of speaking and, of course, it not only offends me but almost everybody else.
I agree that lots of changes are still needed in our attitudes but I think that we have changed more in the last few generations than in thousand years of history.
I’m still thinking that words by themselves, in a very subtle way, can act like casts molding our thoughts and attitudes. It surely is easier for a kid being cruel with an idiot than with a Down’s syndrome.


Juan Maria.

#4385 08/02/00 07:35 AM
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 679
R
addict
Offline
addict
R
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 679
In reply to:

I have seen attempts to change he and she to (s)he. I have seen people take his and hers and change them to hirs.
These are grotesqueries that deserve all the abomination we can heap upon them. When I write regulations, training
manuals, articles, whatever, I routinely alternate between the masculine and feminine pronouns. But it would not bother
me a bit to use she and her and hers exclusively if that would stop the language Nazis from carping. Though milder
grotesqueries, I avoid saying "his or her" or "she and he" because they clog up sentences with unnecessary junk. I've
never succeeded in making a sentence flow properly with these constructions.


I find that using the generic term 'they' a perfectly acceptable form of address for those of both sexes. Otherwise I refer to people using the formal term 'one'.


#4386 08/02/00 11:52 AM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 3,467
Carpal Tunnel
Offline
Carpal Tunnel
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 3,467
>I find that using the generic term 'they' a perfectly acceptable form of address for those of both sexes. Otherwise I refer to people using the formal term 'one'.

The problem is that doesn't fit in with a lot of the writing I do at work. I frequently have to write scenarios about military pay, such as:

An Army member, enters a combat zone on the third day of the month. To compute her entitlement to hostile fire pay, (apply this formula). As a result she will be entitled to...

"They" is a plural construction so it doesn't work very well in this context. And for me, "one" is just too formal. I'm supposed to be writing to a 6th-8th grade level, which is not easy to do. And it was a struggle to get to that point. Originally my marching orders were to write to a third grade level.

See the Army member. See his gun. He goes to war. He shoots his gun. He gets extra pay. The extra pay is $10 a day. The extra pay starts on the first day of the month.

I actually wrote a regulation somewhat similar to this to illustrate the point that writing to a second or third grade level was next to impossible without being demeaning to the mentality of the reader.



TEd
#4387 08/02/00 12:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 200
W
enthusiast
Offline
enthusiast
W
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 200
juanmaria,
i love the mother in law story. i know exactly what you mean and have had many many similar experiences with older generation australians (including one whose relationship to me shall go unmentioned) who can't seem to grasp that "abos" is not an okay abbreviation. and there are millions more examples i'd be happy to go into some other time...
i think the changing of these kinds of words is a result of the (thankfully) changing attitudes. but i don't think it works the other way around. would it make any difference what words your mother in law used? i find that people who can't change their attitudes are also unwilling (unable?) to change the terms they use.


#4388 08/02/00 12:31 PM
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 679
R
addict
Offline
addict
R
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 679
In reply to:


Poster: TEd Remington
Subject: Re: political correctness

>I find that using the generic term 'they' a perfectly acceptable form of address for those of both sexes. Otherwise I refer
to people using the formal term 'one'.

The problem is that doesn't fit in with a lot of the writing I do at work. I frequently have to write scenarios about military
pay, such as:

An Army member, enters a combat zone on the third day of the month. To compute her entitlement to hostile fire pay,
(apply this formula). As a result she will be entitled to...


Ah, I didn't intend for my answer to be a panacea! In the case of 'her' and 'she' above you can simply use the more generic 'the individual' etc. etc. ad nauseum.

In reply to:

"They" is a plural construction so it doesn't work very well in this context. And for me, "one" is just too formal. I'm
supposed to be writing to a 6th-8th grade level, which is not easy to do. And it was a struggle to get to that point.
Originally my marching orders were to write to a third grade level.


Yup. I guessed this. I knew that the plurality would be a problem but I thought that you would have picked up on some of its useful interpretations. Again, not to be used universally.

In reply to:

See the Army member. See his gun. He goes to war. He shoots his gun. He gets extra pay. The extra pay is $10 a
day. The extra pay starts on the first day of the month.

I actually wrote a regulation somewhat similar to this to illustrate the point that writing to a second or third grade level
was next to impossible without being demeaning to the mentality of the reader.



I can understand your frustration. Methinks that the language above would be better adopted by the crewcutted grunts.

Alternative suggestion for phrasing that sentence. This seems like the kind of military speak I'm used to hearing:

1. See the [enter rank of serviceman/woman here]. 2. See [the serviceman/woman]'s [state design and specification of firearm/weapon of mass destruction here]. 3. The [serviceman/woman] goes to [enter state of emergency/hostility/war/police action/insurgency/liberation from (evil) Islamic/Communist/non-US conforming/Saddam Hussein led/Colonel Ghaddafi led/tyrannical empire here]. 4. The [serviceman/woman]'s [see 2 above] is fired (legally according to the 2nd Amendment) by the [serviceman/woman]. The [serviceman/woman] gets extra pay. The extra pay is $10 a day. The extra pay starts on the first day of the month.


#4389 08/02/00 12:36 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 200
W
enthusiast
Offline
enthusiast
W
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 200
ps i also wonder if these changes are long lasting.
we have lots of time to think about such things and of course in our context they are well worth thinking about.
in some future time - as in some past time - our worries may be forgotten in the search for water that doesn't give us all some syndrome.


#4390 08/02/00 09:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,981
J
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah
Offline
Pooh-Bah
J
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 1,981
I am reminded of the old saying

Join the army. Travel the world. See people from all over the world and shoot them.


#4391 08/03/00 12:36 AM
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 18
J
stranger
Offline
stranger
J
Joined: Mar 2000
Posts: 18
One ridiculous example of fall-out from political correctness was reported in "The New York Times" on February 27, 1994. A tenured professor at the University of New Hampshire was suspended for comments he made during a writing class. He said that focus in writing could be compared to sex; later that year, he paraphrased the belly dancer Little Egypt who, he said, had remarked, "Belly dancing is like Jell-o on a plate with a vibrator under the plate." Three students complained. A university tribunal found the professor guilty of sexually harassing students verbally. He was suspended without pay and ordered to receive counseling.

Also in 1994, the California Board of Education banned Alice Walker's very moving and sensitive (my opinion, of course) story, "Am I Blue?", saying it was "anti-meat-eating." The story portrays a woman's reflections on the loneliness of a horse that had been kept in solitude in a paddock. The woman concludes that human beings have little compassion for the animals they use, and she spits out the steak she had been eating.


#4392 08/04/00 12:34 AM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 167
J
member
Offline
member
J
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 167
<See the Army member. See his gun. He goes to war. He shoots his gun. He gets extra pay. The extra pay is $10 a day. The extra pay starts on the first day of the month.>

I still think the rewrite of this should be-

"See the Army member. See their gun. They go to war. They shoot their gun. They get extra pay. The extra pay is $10 a day. The extra pay starts on the first day of the month."

Really when you get used to it, it doesn't seem cumbersome, and quickly assumes the "transparency" which good plain writing should have.

Johnjohn





#4393 08/04/00 01:16 AM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 167
J
member
Offline
member
J
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 167
Also, picking up the past postings on PC terms and the supplanting in the USA of "black" by "African American", how are white folk described now? "American-American" ( - silly)? "European-American"? (- misleading). And having been away from the UK for 12 years now, i don't know whether the usage has spread to there, in which case is it "African-British" (or possibly "West Indian - British")?

My tongue is slightly in my cheek, but it does perhaps illustrate the reductio ad absurdum. But I certainly agree with the post-modernist notion that our appelation for something very much influences the way we think about it - a rose by any other name would definitely not smell as sweet!

Steve Biko the murdered South African lawyer/apartheid victim wrote a very good essay on the use in English of phrases with negative or pejorative connotations which include the word "black" (blackball, black sheep, even denigrate itself). It is referred to in Donald Woods's "Cry Freedom".

Johnjohn


Page 9 of 13 1 2 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Moderated by  Jackie 

Link Copied to Clipboard
Forum Statistics
Forums16
Topics13,907
Posts228,512
Members9,162
Most Online3,341
Dec 9th, 2011
Newest Members
Doctor, Silverfox, Red_Canoe, Merchant7, crusoe66
9,162 Registered Users
Who's Online Now
0 members (), 89 guests, and 3 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters(30 Days)
Top Posters
wwh 13,858
Faldage 13,803
Jackie 11,613
tsuwm 10,542
LukeJavan8 9,868
AnnaStrophic 6,511
Wordwind 6,296
of troy 5,400
Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2022 Wordsmith

Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5