Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tips for Using Inclusive,
Gender-Neutral Language

To This We've Come!

         Hermaphroditic our culture’s becoming,”
           Said Shirley to Marion chatting at tea.
         “Unisex costumes, ambiguous hairstyles
          Are very confusing,” said both men to me!
                                         ~ FreeThinke c. 1968

Careful writers avoid language that would universalize one element of humanity to the exclusion of others. When you are writing about people in general, many of your professors will expect you to use “inclusive” or “nonsexist” language, that is, gender neutral language.

The need for inclusive language arises because according to widely accepted norms of current usage, masculine pronouns no longer communicate a generic sense of “anyone.” Indeed, many people find such usage not only inaccurate but offensive. As a matter of courtesy, you would be wise to search for alternatives that are inclusive or gender neutral. For example, avoid “man” or “men” when you mean “human being(s),” “humankind,” or “people.”

There are no simple formulas for inclusive language, but a basic rule of thumb says it is wise to avoid distracting readers with either a gender specific term that may be offensive or an awkward inclusive phrases such as “him or her” or “she/he.”

One easy approach is to use plural forms, such as “people” instead of “man,” or “students” instead of “the student.” Then you can use “they” on second reference and avoid the gender issue. However, when you use “they,” take care to avoid mismatching your pronouns. Some readers object strongly to plural pronouns with singular antecedents, as in this grammatically incorrect sentence: “Each professor decides their own reading lists.”

A related strategy is to keep the text free of terms that unnecessarily specify gender. To do this, you might try reorganizing a sentence so that the question of gender does not arise. For example, consider neutral alternatives to gender-specific terms, such as “police officers” instead of “policemen,” or “members of Congress” for “Congressmen.” However, beware of silly neologisms such as “personhole covers.”

Additional options and much more advice on this matter are available online:

Guidelines for Gender-Fair Use of Language, from the National Council of Teachers of English
Nonsexist Language, from Purdue University's Online Writing Center
Guidelines for the Elimination of Sexual Stereotyping in Language and Visual Material, from the Web site of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police 
And in these two well-respected handbooks:
Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing (1995) by Marilyn Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language of the Association of American University Presses, available in Raynor Reference


  1. I've "sold out" on this one and now resort to using plurals whenever possible (won't work in Spanish, of course).

    So, why did I, a member of the Grammar Police Force, sell out? The parents of my students are committed to gender-neutral language!

    I do absolutely avoid "he or she" and "his or her." I can't stand those expressions and cringe every time I hear them.

  2. I find the singular is often far clearer than the plural (usually "each" is better than "every" or "all"), and I happily use "he" or "him" in that case. On the other hand, I do avoid terms like "man-power" and "chair-man", especially when the specific group or person to which I am referring contains or is female, and I eschew feminized terms for professions where the gender is unimportant (actress, seamstress etc.) There are some male terms that I don't know how to elegantly neutralize (eg. man-hour).
    I wonder how languages with gendered nouns approach this issue?

  3. As planned a collective society, driven by a sense of the absurd, through methodic and pragmatic methodology is driving indivodualim from our lexicon.

    I for one will continue to resist.

  4. George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"... rules for PC haters:

    (i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

    (ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

    (iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

    (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

    (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

    (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

  5. GO's rules are equally valuable to those of us who are undaunted by PC.

  6. Another incredibly good illustration. Your image selections are always right on the mark, and eye catching too.

    Helen Highwater

  7. ...but then YOU were raised a "barbarian".

  8. Plato, "Statesman"

    STRANGER: I will endeavour to speak more plainly out of love to your good parts, Socrates; and, although I cannot at present entirely explain myself, I will try, as we proceed, to make my meaning a little clearer.

    YOUNG SOCRATES: What was the error of which, as you say, we were guilty in our recent division?

    STRANGER: The error was just as if some one who wanted to divide the human race, were to divide them after the fashion which prevails in this part of the world; here they cut off the Hellenes as one species, and all the other species of mankind, which are innumerable, and have no ties or common language, they include under the single name of 'barbarians,' and because they have one name they are supposed to be of one species also. Or suppose that in dividing numbers you were to cut off ten thousand from all the rest, and make of it one species, comprehending the rest under another separate name, you might say that here too was a single class, because you had given it a single name. Whereas you would make a much better and more equal and logical classification of numbers, if you divided them into odd and even; or of the human species, if you divided them into male and female; and only separated off Lydians or Phrygians, or any other tribe, and arrayed them against the rest of the world, when you could no longer make a division into parts which were also classes.

    Ooooh, oooooh, Mr Kotter... how about the division of men into "workers" and "bourgeois"... and then bourgeois into "grand" and "petit" varieties?

  9. Thersites,
    I taught quite a few students like those in Welcome Back, Kotter. And in a posh public school here in Northern Virginia too.

    The students were absolutely determined to be "cool."

    Today, of course, many teachers would be grateful if students dressed like those in the video link you posted. Dress has become, ahem, extreme now.

  10. Just a reflection of the barbarism invading our country now prevalent.

  11. A "reaction" to creeping corporatism's former clumsy attempts at the manufacturing of consent.

  12. The "counter-culture" is now well funded, and seeking the total surrender of their former masters.

    The barbarians aren't AT our gates. They're building higher walls.

  13. Does this tangent ou're pursuing about barbarism hold any value for me, I wonder? If you have a relevant point, I hope you will make it plainly; I will not watch your video clips.

  14. Every bit of it is double-plus-ungood.

    The atmosphere in Through the Looking Glass
    was mild and congenial -- even comforting -- compared to the realities we must contend with today -- every one of which was predicted with stunning clarity and chilling accuracy by E. M. Forster, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell and Margaret Atwood.

    An interesting question to entertain would be how could these perceptive, remarkably prophetic hupersons know where we were heading before the evil geniuses achieved their deathgrip on power?

    ~ FreeThinke

  15. Thank you for your kind words, Helen. You are fast becoming a friend.

    ~ FT

  16. Jez, I am reasonably certain that the likes of Sarah Bernhardt, Katharine Cornell, Lynne Fontanne, Bette Davis, Deborah Kerr, Joan Crawford. et al. would have scratched the eyes out of anyone who referred to any one of them as an ACTOR.

    What do you plan to do in Britain -- start referring to Queen Elizabeth II or any male who destined to become king as "The Monarch," "The Ruler," or "The Buckingham Resident," and out of deference to muddy, moronic Modspeak eschew the ancient titles of Queen and King? Are Prince Charles and Princess Anne destined, perhaps, to be referred to henceforth as "Royal Siblings?"

    I might agree that aviator and aviatrix might sound a bit quaint today, but that's because they were replaced a long time ago with "pilot."

    And oh my dear Heaven! WHATEVER should be done about the hideously vulgar, nakedly sexist term COCKpit?

    "Pilot Receptacle," anyone?

    Stop the Madness, PLEASE!

    Men and women may both be HUCREATURES, but they are FUNDAMENTALLY different -- THANK GOD!

    An EPICENE Society is a DEGENERATE society.

    ~ FreeThinke

  17. how could these perceptive, remarkably prophetic hupersons know where we were heading before the evil geniuses achieved their deathgrip on power?

    Panem et circenses...

  18. Whereas you would make a much better and more equal and logical classification of numbers, if you divided them into odd and even; or of the human species, if you divided them into male and female;...

    Circenses... Vesti la Giubba!

  19. Bread and Circuses?

    Today, it's more like Baubles, Bangles, Bimbos and Bullshit.

  20. Oh, let's leave poor Canio out of it, Thersites. He always was a tiresome figure.

    I don't care very much for men who let themselves become victims -- especially of WOMEN.

  21. Divide the human race!

    YEP! As we've all heard too often.

    "Divide and conquer."

    Same old game! Only the terminology changes.

    God must have loved stupid people. He made so many of them. ;-)

  22. but before I go, I just want to make this point...

    Dali speaks of a "moral hunger" of the modern age that the German people sought relief through Hitler and National Socialism. Dali writes that Hitler’s followers were "systematically cretinized by machinism" and "ideological disorder", to which they "seek in vain to bite into the senile and triumphant softness of the plump, atavistic, tender, militaristic, and territorial back of any Hitlerian nursemaid."

    Where have we seen THAT recently...

    All the lonely people, where DO they all come from. All the lonely people, where DO they all belong?

  23. I am reasonably certain that the likes of Sarah Bernhardt, Katharine Cornell, Lynne Fontanne, Bette Davis, Deborah Kerr, Joan Crawford. et al. would have scratched the eyes out of anyone who referred to any one of them as an ACTOR.

    They were of their time.
    I doubt you will find the same attitude today.

  24. The monarchy is an instructive example, because not only do we distinguish between male and female royals, we treat them differently. Female royals are considered inferior to male ones (or they were before the very recent update to the rules of succession).

    These days, women who are pilots and PMs are not any the less a pilot or a PM than a male could be. (And men can be nurses, too.) None of this in any way calls Mrs. Thatcher's femininity into question! I am not blind to the differences between men and women, it's just that those differences have no impact on her ability to lead politically. Using the same word regardless of gender is natural to us, for the same reason that differentiating was natural back when monarchists unashamedly preferred boys.

  25. That's because there's no one their august caliber around today, Canardo.

    Give it up! You and your restive, cynical, captious and perpetually dissatisfied kind may prevail (temporarily) but that does nothing to minimize your infinite capacity for being DEAD WRONG.

    In the realm of Eternal Verity nothing worthwhile ever goes out of fashion.

    What seems to be lacking in the entire leftist approach is respect or reverence for anything other than incessant turmoil -- change for the sake of change.

    You have no capacity for repose -- only for AGITATION.

  26. "Female royals are considered inferior to male ones ..."

    Elizabeth I? Victoria? Elizabeth II?

    Surely you jest?

    The post-Victorian monarchs before the coronation of the present Queen were hardly model examples of their kind now, were they?

    Each of the women I cited were such stronger and had finer character -- or so it seems to most of us.

    ~ FT

  27. That's because there's no one their august caliber around today, Canardo.
    Isabelle Huppert

    Helen Mirren

    Julianne Moore

    Marisa Tomei

    Meryl Streep

    Sandrine Bonnaire

    Gong Li

    Juliette Binoche

    ..... I doubt they'd be upset to be called actors. All can easily hold their own with your crew. Huppert would devour them.

  28. Didn't you forget Sonali das Gupta?

    Simone Signoret?

    Jeanne Moreau?

    Liv Ulmann?

    Kari Selwan?

    Personally, I've always admired Adrogyna de Voide, but she was far too fine ever to appeal to the Bourgeoisie. Box office poison!

    How about Anna Magnani?

    Wonderful, if you like women who never comb their hair, never shave their legs, and reek of sweat and garlic.

    I loved Mirren in The Queen. Really did. That brief scene with the stag will stay with me as long as I live.

    Streep is great at doing accents -- almost as well trained and polished as the average product from the British school. Nevertheless I feel Streep is overrated. Her material has not been that great. Her work is admirable, but never compelling.

    You just don't get it, Canardo, and I could never explain it to you. That's because we live in parallel universes.

    You can have yours. I like mine much better.

    Shame on me! I forgot to mention Claudette Colbert and Ingrid Bergman in my initial list.

    And then there were Rosalind Russell and Irene Dunne -- two of the most brilliant and highly versatile actresses who ever graced the silver screen.

    Sorry, but i like LADIES -- not competitive females with a bad case of penis envy.

    Men are actors. Women are actresses. PERIOD!


  29. Sharmila Tagore

    Setsuko Hara

    ---- now they may have prefer "actress".

    Not a big deal.

  30. Elizabeth I had to defer to her younger, sickly brother before she got her chance to reign, that's what I mean by "inferior". Also, while the title "Queen" is suitable for the King's spouse, the title "King" is not conferred on either Victoria's nor Elizabeth II's husbands. In this way Queen is an inferior title. It's more versatile in chess, though.

    I don't know Magnani, but is that a tacit requirement that actresses be fanciable peeping through? Maybe we feel that less keenly when we habitually call them "actors".

    On the other hand, Ingrid Bergman was wonderful in both senses. That kiss in "notorious" was sensational, wasn't it?!

  31. Ducky can't understand the concept of mutatis mutandis, FT. He's a film maker, and "auteur", not a studio "system" afficionado.

  32. auteurs depend upon their own genius.. and the failures should look in the mirror before they try and systematize failure.

  33. Ah, mutatis mutandis!

    Yes, of course. I'd almost forgotten about that. Thank you, Thersites.

    The term pinpoints the essential difference between "liberals" and conservatives.

    As a conservative I have always been irritated by and dead set against the mindless pursuit of "change for the sake of change."

    "Liberals," of course, are absolutely besotted with a compulsive drive to alter, uproot, or abolish just about anything that appears stable, serene and reasonably content with itself. Their hatred of the status quo is pathological.

    Ceaseless anger, discontent, agitation, disapproval, contempt, rejection and the urge to undermines, destroy and supplant -- usually within the context of minding everyone's business but his own -- are hallmarks of the "liberal."

    An ardent embrace of the markedly outré is another prominent characteristic of the breed.

    I'm well aware, of course, that the opposite of this perpetually irate and irritating type ought not properly be labelled "conservative." "Philistine" would be much more le mot juste.

    "Liberals" with pretensions to "artistic temperament" are prone to seeing a false equivalency between the two.

    We rarely see therm "Philistine" anymore, probably because the ceaseless machinations of the left have succeeded in popularizing this malicious misconception. It's part of the leftist campaign to upend and redefine everything to aid their drive to acquire absolute power.

    If ever there were a clear-cut case of "mutatus mutandis," surely it must found in the Feminazi drive to establish "inclusive language."

    ~ FreeThinke

  34. The question is why females who act feel it demeaning to be considered WOMEN..."actresses".

    Does it demean them to be considered FEMALE ACTORS called ACTRESSES? WHY? Are they less an ACTOR because they are an actRESS?

    everyone's so sensitive, everybody's scrapping for a fight over what they're called........

    This whole thing is ridiculous; what made us so sensitive? HIM was grammatically the all inclusive EVERYBODY forever, but now......HEAVEN FORBID? gad

  35. Mankind will simply never agtee on everything.

    Opps, there I go again...

  36. But we like to experiment, don't we? Why wait for it to be utterly broke before attempting improvement?

  37. I'd like to see change in many areas. Uppermost would be to find a a cure for cancer, then effective inoculation against militant frivolity, the desire to mind other people's business, and an exaggerated self-importance.

    B. Wilders

  38. FT, what really knocks me out is that you didn't mention Judy Garland.

  39. Ducky can't understand the concept of mutatis mutandis, FT.

    That has nothing to do with it. That descriptor actress is nt in danger but either term can be used these days.

    It isn't exclusionary like policeman (who ever uses that anyway?) so there is no purpose served by changing it.

    Usage will evolve unforced and you will be right there with FT screaming for the damn kids to get off your lawn.

  40. I imagine anybody who gets on FT's lawn would wind up with an ass full of buckshot.

    Dick Wilde

  41. Oh, poo-poo-pa-doo, Ducky!

    Helen Kane was the greatest of them all. Makes Judy Garland look like Elva Miller -- 'member her?

    You never knew Estelle Evers, did you?

    She was from Brooklyn, and always referred to herself as a "KNACK-tress."

    Presumably because she thought she could act. (She couldn't!)

  42. Ah yes, Mrs. Miller.

    I heard Ramblin' Jack Eliot insert a line about her when he did 912 Greens in concert several months back.

    Love that blues.
    Did you ever
    stand and shiver,
    just because you were
    lookin' at a river.

  43. You may not believe it, but I loved Alberta Hunter and Bricktop.

    No ine has really lived if they haven't heard Alberta Hunter deep into her eighties perform WIthout A Song.

    Un-be live-a-ble!

    Part of me is a smoky nightclub kind a guy.

  44. First point, 'phrases such as “him or her” or “she/he”' become "it" in my language when speaking of transvestites, otherwise, the one that most closely fits the occassion will be used.

    Second point, I am NOT a politically correct type of guy and I will use the language that is most comfortable and most grammatically correct. I call a spade a spade and an asshole an asshole. Period! People that have a hard time living with MY rules of proper speech do not have to read or listen to me, as the case may be. They are however always invited to "KISS MY ASS!" if they don't like it.

  45. Or everyone could just pull up their big boy pants and get over it.

    You have to have very low self esteem to be offended by the use of he or him as a generic term for either sex.

    Crybabies need to grow up.

  46. Amen Rita.

    Opinions, like assholes, are something everyone possesses. Getting over it seems the most sensible and therefore rational thing to do.

    Just saying...

  47. Well yes, Rita and Les -- and you too, AA -- but determining precisely WHAT we ought to be getting over is of utmost concern.

    My point in posting this item was to explore the HIJACKING of our language by POLITICAL ACTIVISTS, because that is why these clumsy, inelegant forms of usage have become a fact of life that cannot be avoided.

    Friend Ducky -- and I would insist he IS a friend, despite his persistently obnoxious taunts and jibes -- would have us believe it's all been a matter of linguistic evolution -- a NATURALLY OCCURRING process.

    I contend it is not "natural" but rather something that's been IMPOSED by a self-anointed, self-appointed power structure that has effectively HIJACKED the culture.

    And THAT is what has produced a feeling of unbearable heat at the core of my fundament. ;-)

  48. Political dogma and political correctness aside, it is true that intelligent individuals, educated by whatever means, have always had, and will continue to have varied views and positions on the issues of the day. Which of course as you well know FT are often the same issues that have been bantered about throughout the history of mankind in one form or the other.

    There I go again... For all you PC individuals please replace mankind with humankind, and accept my apology for having injured your social sensitivities.

  49. Rest easy RN, from where I'm standing it looks like it's just the conservatives getting upset about all this.

  50. Trying to have a friendly chat with liberals is about as much fun as eating a bowl of steel filings washed down with vinegar.

    No sense of humor, no taste for whimsy, no capacity for enjoyment of fantasy, no pleasant dreams. Just dreary, deadly literalism, suspicion, sour disapproval.

    ----------> Katharine Heartburn

  51. Would you prefer us to expect you to never be sincere?

  52. I would expect you -- as a presumably-educated Englishman -- not to split infinitives.

    It may be done all the time, and even manage to be intelligible, but it's decidedly inelegant in most instances.

    "Modspeak" is "clodspeak."

  53. Your statement about why you "sold out," AOW is sad evidence that those who are SUPPOSED to teach the rules and regulations that give written English the polish and great sense of style for which it is justifiably famous have been successfully countermanded and rendered impotent by bullying ignoramuses bent of forcing their will on society.

    You have to make a living, so if you want to keep your job, you either knuckle under or face pubic humiliation and dismissal for "insubordination."

    Every so often I visit a liberal blog or two. The arrogance, assumption of moral and intellectual superiority, vain self-righteousness and virulently powerful GroupThink that prevails in these places is truly gut wrenching.

    The agate-eyed insolence and hard-hearted determination to denounce and condemn is enough to give you the shivers.

    The Marxist-Socialist-Liberal-Progressive-Statist Belief system is the stuff that nightmares are made on.

    If you have ever been to weekend cocktail parties in the Hamptons, or Greenwich Village "gatherings," as I have many times in the now-distant past, you'd know exactly what I mean.

    It literally made my flesh crawl, and was the main reason I left my beloved hometown of New York City. I had only two choices: EIther I joined the snotty sophisticates in dishonoring my mother and father and everything I'd been brought up to love and respect, or I could leave them to their eternal carping, cavilling and bickering games of one-upsmanship, and seek higher ground and cleaner air.

    I've never been sorry I chose the latter.

    ~ FT

  54. Therein lies the difference between sophisticants and people like me.

    I spend zero time in my day caring about whether some overly educated numbskull finds my usage of he for the generic gender or spokesman for someone who speaks not politically correct.

    Nor do I care if some some sensitive chick gets the vapors because a man isn't sensitive enough to remember to use the gender neutral term.

    Let me ask the question. How many conservative or Republican women ever start screaming about how they are referred to as a woman?

    It's abundantly clear to me that the left has attracted the weakest of females. The strong women are conservatives. Just so we're clear here. Strong women are not defined as screeching shrews aka Pelosi, Wasserman-Dingbat, et al.

  55. how about this instance?

    Be it lawful I love thee as thou lov’st those
    Whom thine eyes woo as mine impórtune thee;
    Root pity in thy heart, that when it grows,
    Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.

    Understand that English is not Latin; reread your Hardy and your Browning; then go and sin no more!

  56. Rita: it's just courtesy. Do you bother with any manners at all? If so, why do you bother to waste time on numbskulls and sensitive chicks getting the vapours over someone not saying "please"?

  57. And you just pointed out the biggest difference, all great and mighty jez.

    No where in my comment did I mention that I didn't say please and thank you. You invent your own sense of what is manners, finding offense with using the generic "he" and suddenly you believe that it should be proper manners for everyone else.

    Perhaps the left should work on helping their women to develop a sense of self-esteem so they can manage to survive this world without redefining English so to suit their gentrified sensibilities. Seems women managed to do that for years. But now it's bad manners to use "he".

    Oh. bless me, I suppose the use of genetrified might cause you to blow a gasket.

  58. I'm not sure how a reference to Shakespeare's rather chiding Sonnet #142 might apply to this discussion of the imposition by main force of "inclusive language" on our culture, Jez.

    SONNET 142

    Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate,
    Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving:
    O, but with mine compare thou thine own state,
    And thou shalt find it merits not reproving;

    Or, if it do, not from those lips of thine,
    That have profaned their scarlet ornaments
    And seal'd false bonds of love as oft as mine,
    Robb'd others' beds' revenues of their rents.

    Be it lawful I love thee, as thou lovest those
    Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee:
    Root pity in thy heart, that when it grows
    Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.

    If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide,
    By self-example mayst thou be denied!

    Like virtually all Shakespeare's work it is beautifully and intricately wrought. I see no split infinitives, no insult to womanhood either stated or implied, though he seems to be gently "importuning" an immoral woman who would like to pretend she is otherwise, and begging her to "do unto him as she would have others do to her" -- i.e. take pity on the frailties and foibles of others in order to receive pity for her own when it may be needed in future.

    Something like that!

    Please correct me, if you think I have misunderstood.

    ~ FT

  59. Rita,

    I understand exactly what you've said and agree with most of it, but dislike any use of "gentrify." It's one of those neologisms that arrived unbidden sometime in the Sick-sties and became a buzzword in the crass, honking, dog-eat-dog world of real estate sales in large cities.

    Why use a new word with insulting overtones when perfectly good established terms like "restored," "renewed," "revitalized," or even "upgraded," would do a better job?

    Thank you very much for visiting and leaving your thoughts. I hope you'll soon make it a habit.

    ~ FT

  60. And nowhere in my comment did I suggest that you didn't or shouldn't say please or thank you. If you have manners and you find them useful, then you know why people find PC useful: they're the same thing.

    The distinction between "made up" manners and "proper" manners is false. They are not separate categories. All language is "made up", but whether it is adopted and made living by its speakers is the great thing. No one person or authority has very much sway over it one way or another. Official communications follow all sorts of rules (formality) which real, living language does not. This nonsense about liberals getting offended is a red herring IMO.

    Also, in my first comment I mentioned that I frequently use the generic "he".

    I'm unconcerned with your use of "gentifried", although I am a little worried that it might not mean quite what you hope it to.

  61. "to pitied be" splits "to be". :)

  62. Rita neatly zeroed in on the main reason I mounted this discussion with these words:

    "You invent your own sense of what is manners, finding offense with using the generic "he" and suddenly you believe that it should be proper manners for everyone else."

    I'm not sure the Jez, himself, "invented" any of this, but if we take him out of it, personally, and substitute "The Left" for "You" in Rita's statement, it become exactly right.

    Those with leftist sympathies will, naturally, adhere to the dictates of any and probably all of these totally unnecessary, manufactured changes.

    Conservatives by their very nature resist two things:

    1. Unnecessary, unwelcome, artificially induced "change for the sake of change."

    2. Forced implementation of these invented doctrines via threat of public censure, ostracism, loss of employment, persecution and in extreme cases loss of liberty (jail or "gaol" to you, Jez ;-)

    The left is an inexhaustible source of odious initiatives of this sort. It has always been my contention that these machinations are hypocritical in that they pretend to be about "justice" and "compassion" but are really about revamping society to suit their own fabricated goals while accruing an increasingly strong hold on DICTATORIAL POWER.

    ~ FT

  63. Jez,

    Poetry is full of complex rhyme schemes involving set numbers of metrical 'feet" and all that. In order to met the demands of those strict verse forms it is often necessary -- even customary -- to break rules that apply to written prose.

    Poetry on many ways is a law unto itself.

    In learning the musical grammar required to master the skill of traditional SATB part-writing one must avoid

    1. parallel fifths
    2. parallel octaves
    3. doubling the third of any triad
    4. stepwise approach and resolution of dissonances
    5. awkward leaps within each voice

    These rules were derived from a close analysis of great masters like J.S. Bach, who for the most part wrote spontaneously. Needless to say Bach and the others broke their own "rules" with fair frequency. That doesn't mean, however, that we should treat these rare infractions as "standard."

    Needless to say, Shakespeare was one of the greatest creative geniuses who ever lived. I think we need to cut him a little slack when he utters grammatical atrocities such as "This was the most unkindest cut of all."

    I still say that to habitually, unabashedly, aggressively, defiantly and insolently split infinitives is a linguistic atrocity up with which I, personally, shall never put. ;-)


    ~ FT

  64. "up with which I will not put" is truly barbarous, despite famously being gramatically correct.

    The stylistic & grammatical win (it's always possible to win both games) would be to replace the phrasal verb "to put up with" with a better verb, such as "to tolerate".

    If in a hurry, please feel free to finish on a preposition. It's wrong, but it's better than that mess.

    Really, the rules of grammar and harmony are best considered a checklist. If you hear something amiss, check the rules first: almost all of the time, it will be one of those issues. But there's no need to be bound by them. Consecutive 5ths don't always sound bad, (but they often do.)

    As to the matter of PC language, please consider the distinction between manners and formality, I think it is instructive. Gender-neutral language might be required in certain formal contexts, but it is impossible to impose it on you generally. I really think you're leaning on an open door.

  65. Oh dear, Jez! You failed to recognize the humor in my last sentence, especially the unattributed use of Churchill's famous quip aimed at humorless, unimaginative grammatical pedants.

    Apparently schools and colleges in England are not as zealously doctrinaire in their insistence on the use of "inclusive language" as they are here.

    If younger persons want to lose the color, euphony, richness and variety inherent in our language -- as it evolved over several hundred years of natural permutation -- I suppose we must let them, but to impose these clumsy, confusing, alienating and completely unnecessary changes on older persons, fortunate enough to have been schooled in better times, is unacceptable to me.

    It's the artificiality of it and the BULLYING that goes with it I so despise. If it were not for that, the issue, itself, would be risible.

    Best wishes for a Happy Christmas, however you choose to observe the season.

    ~ FreeThinke

  66. I understood the joke that Churchill (was it really him?) made, but I thought you were arguing in favour of stricter adherance to the rules of grammar, not, as did Churchill or whoever it really was, for more liberty.

  67. Friendly colloquy with liberals is just not possible, FT, unless you give up being you and adopt their way of thinking. No matter what you offer it will always be rejected or given an argument. These people just don't know how to have fun. Always a bore. Too bad!

    ------------> Katharine Heartburn

  68. How many men do you know named Shirley for God's sake?

    Dick Wilde

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