Reflections on lingua franca claptrap by L. E. Taylor
I promised I would avoid politics. And gladly. But politics won’t avoid me. The already worn out cliché of political correctness won’t leave us old paleo-purists alone. If a fellow even tip-toes within a homonym of a verboten syllable of some protected utterance, it’s jail-time for them.
And there, gentle reader, you have one of the Top Ten on the Sacred Codex. One of the most pervasively proscribed references in 21st century English is: the masculine gender. See, lads and lassies, the last sentence of that first paragraph required the singular gender-neutral word “him”.
The Grand Inquisitor speaks:
Not so fast, my good man! That is no longer acceptable. It’s not inclusive, it’s a demeaning remnant of a culture we must obliterate; the musty old King James assumption of male dominance. If you want out of jail, Citizen, the very least correction you must make –is ‘him/her’.
Your humble Scribe replies:
Oh really? Well, your Eminence, tell that to The Bard of Stratford; tell it to Charles Dickens, to Papa Hemingway… to Walt Whitman! Too many males? Explore the works of Jane Austin, J.K. Rowling, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Joyce Carol Oates. Come on, man. Pull out your old Strunk and White!
Once upon a time in a universe not so far away, the term “Man” was a reference to humankind. A benign shorthand. Politically, it meant any person. (e.g., ‘All men are created equal’; ‘the times that try men’s souls’.) “Men” referred to a team or a battalion or tokens on a chessboard. No offense meant, none taken. But now the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers beat the daylights out of each other in the mud, deploying two smelly groups of eleven – people.
A couple of weeks ago, a classic absurdity issued from my car radio. It was a commercial. Some brainwashed young copywriter had supplied the mindless voice with these soothing words, “… so if you know someone who’s suffering with their prostate…”
Never caught the name of the product. The radio was off.
- Strunk, William Jr. and White, E.B.; The Elements of Style – Third Edition; Macmillan Publishing Co.; NYC, NY; 1979.
- L.E. Taylor; LETsBlog: http://blog.letaylortheauthor.com; Good Words Ruined – Part One; February 12, 2014