Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, etc)

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:05 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:Since this thread appears to be on pronouns for the moment I thought I'd ask a question - what do people use when they need a gender-neutral or gender-spanning honorific? I'm not talking formally, because that tends to be pretty firmly codified, so you unfortunately don't have much choice, but if you wanted to convey respect/admiration/deference informally, what would you use?

I like "ser(s)" except a) that's indistinguishable from "sir(s)" when spoken and b) George R.R. Martin may have irreparably scuppered it by using it in a gendered way in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Anything else I've come across sounds really contrived: there doesn't appear to be a convenient pre-existing construct for this in the same way as "they" for pronouns.

Keep in mind this comes with absolutely no authority behind it, but when I did a summer camp at West Point, I was told to just call everyone "sir".

They also pulled a ton of pranks on us, so...yeah. May have just been a way to get us into trouble.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:17 pm UTC

I would say that the military counts as a fairly formal, totally firmly codified situation.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Forest Goose » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:18 pm UTC

I'm not exactly sure,

I have a friend that uses Mx. in place of Mr. or Ms.; and another that doesn't like the roots of that at all and prefers Ind.

The Sir/Ma'm/Madam (what have you) has never come up, actually, so I'm not sure on that front.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:21 pm UTC

Sai works.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Quercus » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:30 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
Quercus wrote:Since this thread appears to be on pronouns for the moment I thought I'd ask a question - what do people use when they need a gender-neutral or gender-spanning honorific? I'm not talking formally, because that tends to be pretty firmly codified, so you unfortunately don't have much choice, but if you wanted to convey respect/admiration/deference informally, what would you use?

I like "ser(s)" except a) that's indistinguishable from "sir(s)" when spoken and b) George R.R. Martin may have irreparably scuppered it by using it in a gendered way in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Anything else I've come across sounds really contrived: there doesn't appear to be a convenient pre-existing construct for this in the same way as "they" for pronouns.

Keep in mind this comes with absolutely no authority behind it, but when I did a summer camp at West Point, I was told to just call everyone "sir".

They also pulled a ton of pranks on us, so...yeah. May have just been a way to get us into trouble.


No, I've heard of this, so I think it's real. I'm pretty uncomfortable with the idea of defaulting to an historically male honorific though* (I'd be more comfortable with calling everyone ma'am, because it explicitly challenges some problematic gender assumptions i.e. that male is better than female, so women should be more okay with being called sir than men should be with being called ma'am).

* I can somewhat understand it in a military context - as an historically male only institution it's saying "so what if your senior officer isn't a man, you treat them exactly the same"

gmalivuk wrote:Sai works.


I like it, thanks.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 09, 2015 6:52 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Keep in mind this comes with absolutely no authority behind it, but when I did a summer camp at West Point, I was told to just call everyone "sir".

They also pulled a ton of pranks on us, so...yeah. May have just been a way to get us into trouble.


In the military, sir is distinctly male, ma'am is the correct honorific for female. Depending on context, substituting rank & last name is sometimes an acceptable substitution. Not in all scenarios, though.

And you're just going to get it wrong sometimes, because camo uniforms tend to make everyone look alike, and you will frequently need to use such terms to address strangers. 'sno big. Apologize, move along with life, it happens.

Even the more informal use of sir as a respectful term in the civilian world is still definitely male. I don't know of a good ungendered title of respect that's nearly so versatile as sir/ma'am. Slang has a lot of such terms, but as you get into more proper forms of address, they tend to be pretty strictly gendered.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:34 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Keep in mind this comes with absolutely no authority behind it, but when I did a summer camp at West Point, I was told to just call everyone "sir".

They also pulled a ton of pranks on us, so...yeah. May have just been a way to get us into trouble.


In the military, sir is distinctly male, ma'am is the correct honorific for female. Depending on context, substituting rank & last name is sometimes an acceptable substitution. Not in all scenarios, though.

And you're just going to get it wrong sometimes, because camo uniforms tend to make everyone look alike, and you will frequently need to use such terms to address strangers. 'sno big. Apologize, move along with life, it happens.

Even the more informal use of sir as a respectful term in the civilian world is still definitely male. I don't know of a good ungendered title of respect that's nearly so versatile as sir/ma'am. Slang has a lot of such terms, but as you get into more proper forms of address, they tend to be pretty strictly gendered.

Even with ma'am, a lot of women I've met in the past can get offended if they think you're implying they're old.

I just tend to smile, say "thanks" a lot, and run.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Derek » Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:41 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:There is an awful lot of quoting joke pop culture laws and tv tropes as counterarguments to the idea of "treat those around you as people worthy of respect". It's getting pretty tiresome.

No one is arguing that you shouldn't treat people with respect. The discussion is about what it means to treat people with respect, especially given situations where someone will be offended regardless of what choice you make.

KrytenKoro wrote:Even with ma'am, a lot of women I've met in the past can get offended if they think you're implying they're old.

This is a regional thing, I think. In the South it's perfectly ordinary and respectful to call even a young girl "ma'am".

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Autolykos » Sun Apr 12, 2015 12:48 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:How is it impractical and freuqently backfiring to simply use "they", "their", "them"?
Not at all. If you read my recent posts, you will notice that I already pointed out multiple times that this is a special case for English and doesn't work in any other language I know.
There is an awful lot of quoting joke pop culture laws and tv tropes as counterarguments to the idea of "treat those around you as people worthy of respect". It's getting pretty tiresome.
I don't see what you're trying to tell me here. I never suggested, or, as far as I can tell even implied, that I desire to treat people disrespectfully. I merely want to know how to navigate this minefield without offending anyone.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:31 pm UTC

Autolykos wrote:Not at all. If you read my recent posts, you will notice that I already pointed out multiple times that this is a special case for English and doesn't work in any other language I know.

It works in most Asiatic languages, just off the top of my head. I also posted discussion of wikipedia's page on this very topic, which illustrates that there are usually well-known and accepted forms of referring to indeterminate gender. Romance languages are the biggest obstacles here, but they are very much not the standard for languages.

Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-spe ... l_pronouns

I don't see what you're trying to tell me here. I never suggested, or, as far as I can tell even implied, that I desire to treat people disrespectfully. I merely want to know how to navigate this minefield without offending anyone.

Your counterargument to "here's a good way to not be offensive" is "Finagle's Law".

When someone is saying "X is a vital part of being respectful to others" and your primary response, whether or not you agree with them, is "Nah, MEMERY", there's a certain level of disrespect there, yeah.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Chen » Mon Apr 13, 2015 12:03 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:It works in most Asiatic languages, just off the top of my head. I also posted discussion of wikipedia's page on this very topic, which illustrates that there are usually well-known and accepted forms of referring to indeterminate gender. Romance languages are the biggest obstacles here, but they are very much not the standard for languages.


It's probably the more North Americain/European point of view where the Romance languages are the far more common ones you'll encounter. Up here in Canada French is by far dominant aside from English. In the US you'll likely hear Spanish more than any other secondary language. Globally it may not be as big an issue as your wiki link shows. For those in North America and Europe it is more of an obstacle. While an exception, for me up here in Quebec I have no real way to use a neutral pronoun in the vast majority of my conversations because most conversations with strangers are going to be in French.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Autolykos » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:38 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:Romance languages are the biggest obstacles here, but they are very much not the standard for languages.
My point exactly. Knowing that billions of Chinese and Indians don't have this problem does you very little good if you happen to live in Europe.

KrytenKoro wrote:Your counterargument to "here's a good way to not be offensive" is "Finagle's Law".
Are you intentionally trying to misrepresent me in the worst possible way? It's a game two can play. My counterargument to "This is the perfect solution that always works, for everyone. Now if you ever offend anyone by using the wrong pronoun, you're officially the asshole, problem solved." is "This solution leaves a lot to be desired in specific cases X and Y for people living in A or B, and these cases are bound to happen eventually. Ignoring the problems won't do you any good when they will inevitably turn up."

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:39 pm UTC

There are options in Romance languages, they just may not have quite the same historical precedent as singular "they" in English.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Autolykos » Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:56 pm UTC

There are a handful of people trying to invent new pronouns in most languages, yes. But I know for a fact that there is no commonly accepted version in German (because that's my native language). All proposals I've yet seen sound similar enough to another pronoun to cause confusion, are impossible to pronounce and/or make texts very hard to read (sometimes intentionally so), so I don't expect any of them to catch on in the near future.
As for Romance languages, I'm reasonably sure the situation is the same in French (but I am ready to be corrected by a native speaker on this). Which is a shame, really, because the English "they" makes that problem seem almost trivial.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Chen » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:41 pm UTC

As far as I know there's no good alternative in French. It's compounded by the fact that nouns have a grammatical gender too.

Imagine the sentence "Someone called but they didn't leave a message". This uses a nice gender neutral English pronoun. But depending on what you use for "someone" in french, the second pronoun you use needs to match the grammatical gender of the noun. If you uses "quelqu'un" the second pronoun needs to be masculine. If you use "une personne" the second pronoun ends up being feminine. There is no real option to use a gender neutral pronoun in that sentence as in English.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:06 pm UTC

Sure it has grammatical gender, but I'm assuming French speakers don't think everyone referred to as "a person" is female, right?
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Chen » Wed Apr 15, 2015 2:25 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Sure it has grammatical gender, but I'm assuming French speakers don't think everyone referred to as "a person" is female, right?


Of course not. But I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. The way the language is constructed you have masculine and feminine pronouns due in part to the fact the language itself has a grammatical gender. There is no good neutral pronoun to use, equivalent to "they" in English. There's "on" but it tends to be used almost entirely as "we" despite being in the third person singular pronoun when looking a verb conjugation. If you were to use that to try and refer to someone in the same way you'd use "they" in English it would just lead to a lot of confusion.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Trebla » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:39 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Sai works.


Thankee, sai.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 15, 2015 8:14 pm UTC

Autolykos wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:How is it impractical and freuqently backfiring to simply use "they", "their", "them"?
Not at all. If you read my recent posts, you will notice that I already pointed out multiple times that this is a special case for English and doesn't work in any other language I know.


It doesn't even really work in all cases in English. Yes, you can usually use generic terms, or dodge using a pronoun entirely, but there are times when you simply must assume the gender of the person you are talking to due to the situation you are in. So, English does fall a bit short here as well.

Derek wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:Even with ma'am, a lot of women I've met in the past can get offended if they think you're implying they're old.

This is a regional thing, I think. In the South it's perfectly ordinary and respectful to call even a young girl "ma'am".


Different terms can have different inflections, yeah. Ma'am to a young girl would seem a touch odd/quaint in the midwest. Not disrespectful, exactly, but odd. Miss would be the formal term for younger girls in most of these regions, I imagine, but then of course, there are edge cases when guessing age as well and such. Language is messy.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:20 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:It doesn't even really work in all cases in English. Yes, you can usually use generic terms, or dodge using a pronoun entirely, but there are times when you simply must assume the gender of the person you are talking to due to the situation you are in. So, English does fall a bit short here as well.

Example?
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:53 pm UTC

The only one I can think of is if you're talking about someone's aunt or uncle, or niece or nephew, because we don't have gender-neutral terms for those.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:58 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The only one I can think of is if you're talking about someone's aunt or uncle, or niece or nephew, because we don't have gender-neutral terms for those.

Yeah, I guess that's true. Anything gender neutral would be an awkward construction, like "my sibling's kid", or something.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 16, 2015 3:38 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The only one I can think of is if you're talking about someone's aunt or uncle, or niece or nephew, because we don't have gender-neutral terms for those.


Titles, mostly, yeah. Relationships. Sibling is an exception, though...it sounds a little awkward in some contexts, and can indicate uncertainty about gender, which may be undesirable.

The aforementioned military sir/ma'am. Not a big deal in academic contexts, as you have handy generics like "professor" or "chair" to fall back on. Job titles are kind of a mix. Some are gendered, some are not. Waiter/waitress would be one such.

Sometimes one becomes acceptably generic, I guess. Actor seems to be cool all round now, despite the whole actor/actress terminology of old. This is far from universal, though. When a term seems to get used as generic, it usually seems to be the male term, but it wouldn't really be right to assume that masculine versions of all split job titles are acceptable generics.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Derek » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:03 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Sure it has grammatical gender, but I'm assuming French speakers don't think everyone referred to as "a person" is female, right?

To be fair, I don't think most English speakers assume that every generic person referred to as "he" is a man either. People understand pragmatics, and if a language doesn't offer a gender neutral option ("they" being historically unacceptable in formal/prestige contexts), they don't read more than necessary into an arbitrary choice.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:07 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The aforementioned military sir/ma'am. Not a big deal in academic contexts, as you have handy generics like "professor" or "chair" to fall back on. Job titles are kind of a mix. Some are gendered, some are not. Waiter/waitress would be one such.
Call the person who serves you at a restaurant your server. Call the person who attends to you on a plane your flight attendant. There are gendered terms, but there are also almost always gender-neutral alternatives.

Sometimes one becomes acceptably generic, I guess. Actor seems to be cool all round now, despite the whole actor/actress terminology of old. This is far from universal, though. When a term seems to get used as generic, it usually seems to be the male term, but it wouldn't really be right to assume that masculine versions of all split job titles are acceptable generics.
It's pretty obvious which ones that works for just by looking at the form of the word.

The standard word for a person who [verb]s is a [verb]er/or or sometimes a [verb]ant/ent, neither of which is inherently gendered in pretty nearly every case. Some additional gendering occasionally happens when people insist on [verb]ress for a woman who [verb]s, but that's already implicitly treating [verb]er as default. And the problem isn't that it's the default, the problem is that the default is seen as male enough for an exceptional term to be made for women.

This is a completely different situation from words like "chairman" or "policeman", where the use of "man" may once have been universally gender-neutral but is very nearly never neutral nowadays. In these cases, we also generally already have alternatives like "chairperson" or "police officer" or "firefighter".

Derek wrote:("they" being historically unacceptable in formal/prestige contexts
"They" as a gender-neutral pronoun for an indefinite person is only recently unacceptable in formal/prestige contexts. Historically it was fine at all registers.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:53 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Sure it has grammatical gender, but I'm assuming French speakers don't think everyone referred to as "a person" is female, right?

To be fair, I don't think most English speakers assume that every generic person referred to as "he" is a man either. People understand pragmatics, and if a language doesn't offer a gender neutral option ("they" being historically unacceptable in formal/prestige contexts), they don't read more than necessary into an arbitrary choice.


Use of "he" as a generic does happen in English, but it's very similar use as a gendered term makes it a little more ambiguous than I'd like. He/she works in many cases, I suppose, but it quickly gets verbose and unwieldy. Using the same term for the specific as a more general case happens a lot in English, but it's often imprecise or context dependent.

gmalivuk wrote:
Derek wrote:("they" being historically unacceptable in formal/prestige contexts
"They" as a gender-neutral pronoun for an indefinite person is only recently unacceptable in formal/prestige contexts. Historically it was fine at all registers.


If by "recently", you mean late 18th, early 19th century. Or at least significantly contested, if not overtly unacceptable, English being somewhat less standardized back then. I'd say that's a little more time than "recently".

Sometimes one becomes acceptably generic, I guess. Actor seems to be cool all round now, despite the whole actor/actress terminology of old. This is far from universal, though. When a term seems to get used as generic, it usually seems to be the male term, but it wouldn't really be right to assume that masculine versions of all split job titles are acceptable generics.
It's pretty obvious which ones that works for just by looking at the form of the word.


Nah. Actor/actress, it's grown pretty normal to use actor as a generic, but waiter/waitress is exactly the same form, and referring to an obviously female waitress as a waiter would be kind of wierd.

This is a completely different situation from words like "chairman" or "policeman", where the use of "man" may once have been universally gender-neutral but is very nearly never neutral nowadays. In these cases, we also generally already have alternatives like "chairperson" or "police officer" or "firefighter".


I agree that those are different, but some of those are similarly problematic. Chairperson seems a little overwrought. The simple use of "Chair" works pretty well, though. Concise. Unlikely to be confused with the objects you sit on in most contexts. Firefighter is good. It's more descriptive than it's gendered counterparts, and lacks confusion issues. Police officer is ugly. The term "officer" contains a great deal of baggage. Using it to describe literally everyone who in the police force, especially when they have ranks that explicitly match up with current military ranks(many of which are clearly non-officer) is irksome. This is both for pedantic reasons, as well as feeling that police are basically cribbing stuff from the military, and don't even have the common courtesy to do it accurately.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:59 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If by "recently", you mean late 18th, early 19th century. Or at least significantly contested, if not overtly unacceptable, English being somewhat less standardized back then. I'd say that's a little more time than "recently".
I'd say that a change that only happened in the last 10% or so of the history of English is pretty recent.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:06 pm UTC

If you measure in terms of human history, it's an even smaller percent, but people don't usually describe even the 1940's as recent.

Language is sufficiently fluid that late 18th century to now is...for English, at least, a pretty huge difference. Someone from then suddenly arriving here might still be comprehensible, but the differences will be very significant indeed. A great deal of change has taken place since then. Recent is defined primarily by it's relationship to the present, not by it's relationship to the beginning of a span.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:11 pm UTC

Someone from the late 18th century would speak English that is still mostly within the boundaries of currently-spoken dialects, though.

And of course, even as grammarians started to proclaim that singular "they" was incorrect, it continued to be used largely without interruption in prestige contexts by elite and common writers of every century.
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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby slinches » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:31 pm UTC

I generally don't have an issue with they as gender neutral singular. I use it frequently without even thinking about it, but I saw someone use "themself" recently, which just doesn't sound right.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Quercus » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:48 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:And of course, even as grammarians started to proclaim that singular "they" was incorrect, it continued to be used largely without interruption in prestige contexts by elite and common writers of every century.

Exactly. One shouldn't listen to that sort of grammarian, or indeed prescriptivist linguists of virtually any stripe. Language exists to serve people, not the other way round. IMO any use of language is only wrong if it (a) is ambiguous or difficult to understand, (b) reduces the expressiveness of the language (e.g. merging affect and effect) or (c) is seriously aesthetically displeasing (and not just strange due to newness)

Singular they is aesthetically fine, absolutely clear and increases expressiveness. That outweighs the fact that it's "incorrect" by several orders of magnitude.

slinches wrote:I generally don't have an issue with they as gender neutral singular. I use it frequently without even thinking about it, but I saw someone use "themself" recently, which just doesn't sound right.

I have to say, I kind of like it. Sure, it sounds strange, but I think that's a newness thing more than anything else.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby ucim » Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:02 pm UTC

Quercus wrote: IMO any use of language is only wrong if it (a) is ambiguous or difficult to understand, (b) reduces the expressiveness of the language (e.g. merging affect and effect) or (c) is seriously aesthetically displeasing (and not just strange due to newness)
...or carries connotations that don't belong (aren't explicitly intended) in the thought being expressed. That's why (for instance) there's an uproar over the gender-neutral "he" and its ilk, and even the existence of "he" and "she" as ways to help identify someone. Unfortunately, by this definition there is no "right" way to say some things ("{Person of unspecified sex} flew the airplane splendidly at the airshow but I never knew who {that same person} was so I couldn't ask for {that person's} autograph.") Thus, some want to encourage the language to change, others want to bring attention to the connotations and expunge them, and some want to do all three.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Quercus » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:06 pm UTC

ucim wrote:...or carries connotations that don't belong (aren't explicitly intended) in the thought being expressed.

Agreed - although I'd kind of lumped that into expressiveness in my head. If a word unavoidably implies things that you don't intend it's clearly limiting your ability to express yourself precisely.

ucim wrote:Unfortunately, by this definition there is no "right" way to say some things ("{Person of unspecified sex} flew the airplane splendidly at the airshow but I never knew who {that same person} was so I couldn't ask for {that person's} autograph.") Thus, some want to encourage the language to change, others want to bring attention to the connotations and expunge them, and some want to do all three.

I suspect we might be at cross-purposes here. To clarify, there are certainly human and social considerations that should affect the way language is used, indeed I'm saying that these considerations should take absolute priority over considerations based purely on convention and prescriptive rules. When I said "IMO any use of language is only wrong" I meant "wrong" in a purely grammatical sense, as someone might say "it's wrong to start a sentence with a preposition" (to choose my favourite terrible grammatical rule). I'm all for encouraging language to change - changing along with society is what languages are supposed to do.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby ucim » Fri Apr 17, 2015 12:41 am UTC

Quercus wrote:When I said "IMO any use of language is only wrong" I meant "wrong" in a purely grammatical sense...
... as was I (though I include "wrong" in a semantic sense also). If the only two words to identify a single human being are "man" and "woman", then it is wrong to say "That man did it." when the person is female, and v.v. (because semantics) and it's wrong to say either one when you don't know the actual sex of the person (because implications). This holds even if the default syntax is to use "man" for a person of unknown sex (or gender). And it's wrong to use "woman" in that case because it would therefore imply you know their sex, and that it was female.

And it's all grammar, if you add my fourth rule.

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby K-R » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:58 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Nah. Actor/actress, it's grown pretty normal to use actor as a generic, but waiter/waitress is exactly the same form, and referring to an obviously female waitress as a waiter would be kind of wierd.

Would it? Seems just as normal as the "actor" equivalent to me. Same as with most sports leagues, where there's the "normal" league, and the separate women's league. The semi-pro league around here actually deviates from that, as officially both leagues are under the "XBL" heading with the same teams in each, all run by the same people, and then "MXBL" and "WXBL" are used to specify, although for the most part people still manage to turn it into "XBL" and "WXBL". Where "X" is a generic placeholder for obfuscatory purposes.

This is a completely different situation from words like "chairman" or "policeman", where the use of "man" may once have been universally gender-neutral but is very nearly never neutral nowadays. In these cases, we also generally already have alternatives like "chairperson" or "police officer" or "firefighter".

I agree that those are different, but some of those are similarly problematic. Chairperson seems a little overwrought. The simple use of "Chair" works pretty well, though. Concise. Unlikely to be confused with the objects you sit on in most contexts.

I found it somewhat funny, watching the Venus VS documentary in ESPN's "Nine for IX" series, the whole point of which was the fight for gender equality in tennis, that it took them around two minutes to do this:
vlcsnap-2015-04-25-03h24m30s185.png

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Apr 28, 2015 1:53 am UTC

Quercus wrote:I have to say, I kind of like it. Sure, it sounds strange, but I think that's a newness thing more than anything else.

I don't really like either option, but I definitely have a strong preference for "theirself" over "themself."
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she / her / her

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby Derek » Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:24 am UTC

El Goonish Shive continues it's discussion of labels in today's strip:

Image

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Re: Why is there a need to be labeled? (gender, sexuality, e

Postby KrytenKoro » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:21 pm UTC

Derek wrote:El Goonish Shive continues it's discussion of labels in today's strip:

That fictional character is more than entitled to their personal preference, and decent people should not label her.
From the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute comes the ghastly suspicion my opposition's a fruit.


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