>This is definitely cumbersome but the alternative is definitely sexist so we are waiting for some ingenious invention that can solve this problem.

Juan Maria:

I disagree; the use of -os to describe a group is not in and of itself sexist. That's an evil fiction that has been visited upon us by people who are just too darned sensitive for their own good (and ours). Certainly there are words that are sexist, such as calling the lady who works down the hall "honey" because the obvious intent is to denigrate her, to make her less of a person thanthe male speaker, to relegate her to a subordinate position. But to say, and pardon me if I get the Spanish wrong, los profesoros to refer to a faculty group that could be all male or part male part female, is simply using language to communicate.

I have not separated the males from the females, so I have not made the women of lesser stature than men. Granted, if I say las profesoras, I have designated a group of faculty that is all female. But unless I have done so in a way that devalues them, I have simply been descriptive.

The counter-argument is that if the person hearing my communication PERCEIVES that I have denigrated women in some way, then I have indeed done so. I reject that. If in the totality of what I say there is a pervasive aura of sexism, then I would indeed be guilty. But if I have been only descriptive of a group or subgroup without assigning value judgments, then it is purely communication.

There do exist words that are now considered so racist as to be beyond the pale, even though they were ostensibly not racist 200 or even a hundred years ago. Mark Twain's use of "nigger" is frequently cited in this regard. Somewhat paradoxically, I reject the idea that this was not racist. It was. Regardless of what many people now say, Twain's use of the word was not desciptive, it was categorizing into a group that had a lesser stature and was definitely pejorative in usage. Mind you, I still think Twain's stuff is great literature, but to say that he was not racist is to ignore the entire culture of the period during which Twain wrote.

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.

It's time, my friends, to reclaim our language from the clutches of those who would gut it to the point of absurdity. And that applies to other languages. I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised that political correctness has struck Spanish. I'd love to know if the French have paid any attention to political correctness.


Ted jumps down off the soapbox