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Thread: Proper English Sexism

  1. #101
    Vexatious Correspondent Leo2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    You'll remember, that as a variety of English, American English is marked by its tendency to informality. This pervades much of American culture. In my country one will likely be invited to address one's boss by first name after only a short acquaintance. We love two-part verbs ("put up with" rather than "endure," "stick up for" in place of "defend") which are marked for informality. In style we prefer rhetorical force over delicacy.

    Almost no Ameican men are named "Guy" and its etymology to that name would not be intuitive to most Americans. "Guys and Gals" (or "Guys and Dolls" in the title of one play) was an informal version of "gentlemen and ladies." "Gals" was used alone (along with "girls") for grown women until at least mid-twentieth century. More recently "gals" has been dropped and "guys" used in its place for both men and women." I think the word "lad" is used in the equivalent for the American "guy" where you come from, or maybe "mates" in Australia, although that suggests friendship too, and "guy" does not.
    As is your wont, you are essentially correct in your critique of common usage on both sides of the Atlantic.

    'Guy', as a first name for males, is much more common in the UK and in continental Europe than in the USA, so the risk of confusion between the particular and the general is greater in the former jurisdictions - I don't know if this is a significant factor, but it may be. I can also surmise at the origin of the corruption of 'girl' into 'gal' over a period of time. Upper class ladies of a certain age tend to pronounce the word 'girl' as 'gel' (with a hard 'g') in the UK and in the erstwhile colonies - it doesn't take a huge leap of the imagination to see that term further evolving into 'gal'.

    The common terms for fellow males in the UK are much dependent upon geographical location, and even more so upon socio-economic standing. Up North it would be common parlance to "Have a jar with the lads," at your local pub. They might also use 'mates' further South, but that would imply friendship (which 'the lads' does not automatically). Australian English is more influenced by American English than is the case in the UK, so I have heard younger Australians refer to 'guys' as a generic term for their fellow males. But it is not a form of address in Australia (so no "You guys!"), and is never used with reference to females.

    "Chaps" is now a somewhat outmoded descriptive term, but still in use amongst the middle and upper-class Public-School educated. 'Bloke' is common to the working classes in both Australia and the UK. "Lad" as a term (often of endearment) for a youth or boy, is common across the class spectrum. Other terms such as 'fellow', 'cove', or 'bod' are usually confined to the use of sexuagenarians, and, in my experience, 'dude' is strenuously avoided by all but the most committed and juvenile Americanophiles.

    (Why is the spell-check chucking a wobbly over both sexuagenarians, and Americanophiles?)
    Thanks from Rasselas

  2. #102
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by syrenn View Post
    well... it works for me. It has nothing to do with being human or not. It is proper english and is non gender specific. I prefer he or she...a he or she that matches their DNA. But since that is not good enough anymore suck it up. I am not about to play pc games and participate in others therapy.
    Not to brush aside your appalling trans bigotry, but there is a different principle in play here for me. When I need a doctor, plumber, police officer, teacher, politician, judge, etc. etc. etc., I never need one of a specific gender. So when referring to an individual, I likewise want a gender neutral pronoun for the vast majority of occasions when the gender of the person I am speaking to/about is immaterial to me.

    To date, no solution has been suggested that really meets this need for me. I have no desire to degrade anyone, so your suggestion of "it" is completely unacceptable. And while I like @Havelock's idea to use the masculine in a manner than conveys it refers to all humans, it isn't AS satisfying as it could be. To a degree, it reinforces the notion that we expect such people to be males.

    But yes, I am enough of a traditionalist on the English language to resist the "ze, sem, zose" idea unless it is first adopted by the NYT. Which I doubt will be happening anytime soon.

  3. #103
    Senior Member Sparta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasselas View Post
    The use of "one" is generally frowned on in North American English. It locks one into using "one" throughout one's entire sentence, for one thing. It also sounds unduly elevated for English users known for their tendency toward informality.
    Why wouldn't "they" be appropriate? If someone were to come to my door, they would be expected to knock, No?
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  4. #104
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparta View Post
    Why wouldn't "they" be appropriate? If someone were to come to my door, they would be expected to knock, No?
    It's acceptable. Just awkward. And although it finishes off the gender neutral pronoun issue handily it doesn't answer every such dilemma. This whole thread exists because @Isalexi took umbrage at my use of "you guys" as not inclusive enough,. and she's right. To many people, it isn't.


  5. #105
    Senior Member Sparta's Avatar
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    "Guys" may not be gender neutral in the literal sense but it's certainly gender neutral in practical usage. I don't really see the utility in blacklisting contemporary slang in favor of replacement words. I can understand that using "man/he/she" can be clumsy but when we start feeling left out over words like "dude" and "these/those/you guys" it starts to feel like we're crossing into something different

  6. #106
    Vexatious Correspondent Leo2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparta View Post
    "Guys" may not be gender neutral in the literal sense but it's certainly gender neutral in practical usage. I don't really see the utility in blacklisting contemporary slang in favor of replacement words. I can understand that using "man/he/she" can be clumsy but when we start feeling left out over words like "dude" and "these/those/you guys" it starts to feel like we're crossing into something different
    Much depends upon the environment and common usage in the society concerned. I lose no sleep over encountering 'you guys', 'dude', or the clumsy usage of 'they' in respect of the singular, but that is not acceptable usage (in the sense of making oneself understood,) in the British world, in much the same way as 'chaps' or 'having jar with the lads' would not immediately impart the intended sense in the USA, or possibly Canada. And I cannot understand the seeming American resistance to the useful, gender-neutral, 'one' as a substitute for 'he/she/it'.

  7. #107
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo2 View Post
    Much depends upon the environment and common usage in the society concerned. I lose no sleep over encountering 'you guys', 'dude', or the clumsy usage of 'they' in respect of the singular, but that is not acceptable usage (in the sense of making oneself understood,) in the British world, in much the same way as 'chaps' or 'having jar with the lads' would not immediately impart the intended sense in the USA, or possibly Canada. And I cannot understand the seeming American resistance to the useful, gender-neutral, 'one' as a substitute for 'he/she/it'.
    The real answer, Leo, is that it sounds too British. It has an air of formality that Americans resist. We're more likely to switch to "you" as a generic than utilize "one."
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