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February 8, 2010


Abbas Raza

Your erudition never ceases to amaze and delight me. Really. Will post this on 3QD tomorrow. Love, A.

Mille Feuille

Please don't submit, however reluctantly, to the hegemony of "they." This is a battle worth fighting with every copy editor, student, reviewer, writer and reader. Even if we lose the individual battles, their very existence plants seeds of awareness into the minds of the participants and bystanders. How will we prevent the deterioration of American language use (and therefore, in my belief, American thinking) if we give into initiatives to make American English more illogical than it already is?
Vive la resistance!


While I'm all for gender-neutral language when appropriate, I am no fan of "human beings" or "men and women" as a universal replacement for "men" when translating e.g. classical texts. Aristotle wrote about the souls of men; to translate this to "men and women" or "human beings" is to whitewash much of what is problematic in his theory.

I much prefer the approach taken (until recently) by drafters of statutes in the Anglo-American tradition: the male pronouns are used exclusively, leading to phrases like "any person who becomes pregnant may exercise his right to paid maternity leave". Consistent, easy to remember, and totally hilarious.

Donna Hughs

Ignorance of etymology and the understanding it can provide is likely to increase, due to a trend I noticed recently when buying a dictionary for a young friend: many dictionaries no longer include the etymological roots of words. Part of the pleasure of looking words up has been, for me, learning about the roots of a word in other, older languages, and it saddens me that many young people will be deprived of that pleasure, not to mention the knowledge provided thereby.

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