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Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Would you support a "neutral" language movement?      Home login  
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 granz
Joined: 1/22/2010
Msg: 1
Would you support a "neutral" language movement?Page 1 of 3    (1, 2, 3)
This movement would focus on removing gender-specific inflection and titles from English, as well as honorifics, terms that are strictly pejorative, or words that imply class, age, status, or otherwise imply disparity between different people.

An example comparison might be:

"She's a great actress, but her career has gone downhill since she became a widow."
"She's a great actor, but her career has gone downhill since she lost her spouse."

The movement might not necessarily call for the abolition of gender-specific pronouns, since these are not often viewed as disparaging in and of themselves. On the other hand, there may be the introduction of gender-neutral pronouns to serve in place of generic "he" and "they," in instances when the sex of a person is unknown. For instance, the Spivak pronoun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spivak_pronoun

So, let's say this movement takes off and gains a relative foothold in English-speaking societies. Would you adjust your own vocabulary and participate? Bear in mind that it may not be practical in some situations. If you're serving under the authority of someone who is commonly addressed by honorifics, you would be risking your job. Some people may also criticize you under the belief that this is nothing more than reactance, or "sticking it to the man."
 Innadiated®
Joined: 2/5/2008
Msg: 2
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:11:01 PM
Why ? Specific words such have these have been created to describe common things. They are more descriptive than just saying she lost her spouse. Widow carries a certain stigma, if this stigma wasn't needed we wouldn't have bothered making a word for it.
 granz
Joined: 1/22/2010
Msg: 3
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:19:49 PM

Why ?


To remove perceived disparities from language. Why is it necessary to define a person's gender when referring to their career or marital affairs, for instance?


Widow carries a certain stigma, if this stigma wasn't needed we wouldn't have bothered making a word for it.


Maybe from the perspective of much older value systems. Language tends to evolve with its society. If we no longer recognize a need for certain terminology, or that this terminology was forged only because of reactionism, then it seems sensible to stop using it.
 Innadiated®
Joined: 2/5/2008
Msg: 4
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:23:04 PM
But i don't see how you recognize that need. Language does not just communicate thoughts and ideas, but must be used to communicate emotions too.

Stripping it of words that have been created to convey a more emotional feeling than others, or to recognize sex, removes the very essence of the fact that we are human, and that we do have 2 different sexes. Why deny this? Why remove it from a language we use to communicate these things?

This move would be ieology driven at best, and not very practical in nature. A larger "underground" of slang would simply emerge.
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 5
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:26:16 PM
If you're serving under the authority of someone who is commonly addressed by honorifics, you would be risking your job.

I wouldnt risk it, I'd quit immediately because I will not "serve under the authority" of anyone but myself. I don't believe in feudalistic or militaristic titles. I don't use them for myself or for others. If someone calls me "mister" I correct them immediately and inform them that I consider such an "honorific" an insult. I'f I should ever find myself in court, I will never address anyone except as "sir" and expect the same consideration and respect from anyone else in the courtroom.

As far as gender neutrality goes, why don't we just include women as "men" and address them accordingly. They are cetainly our equals and really, most of the women I know have more balls then the men anyway.
 kohavah
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 6
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:45:29 PM
Personally I think that a female man, should be addresses as Vagina Man, and a male man, should be addresses as Penis Man. Now if you are speaking to a Judge, who has assumed his or her authority over your rightful will, and is therefore now you Mind, or your Head, by Proxy, it would only be proper and fitting to address said being with words such as...Yes, Your Honorable Vagina Head(female), or No, Your Honorable Penis Head(male). This would be so much clearer for us. I am all for it.

Kohavah
 Innadiated®
Joined: 2/5/2008
Msg: 7
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:46:42 PM
^ I'll join this movement for sure. I already call a lot of people penis heads, so it will be an easy adjustment.
 kohavah
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 8
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:49:42 PM
Judges demand that you RESPECT them, and their HEAD. You must used the proper wording. Other wise, they will hold you in contempt of their Egotistical HEAD.
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 9
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 4:50:38 PM

I already call a lot of people penis heads

I prefer to call them "pricks". It seems less gender specific somehow.
 GeneralizingNow
Joined: 10/10/2007
Msg: 10
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 5:20:05 PM
I believe neutral language should be the goal in journalism and in government docs etc. But I think gender-specific language has an important place, even if some of those are seemingly disparaging. The nuance of our language is what makes it fun.
 Innadiated®
Joined: 2/5/2008
Msg: 11
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 5:21:06 PM
Exactly, this is more or less my point. That the situation and context will define how something is described.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 12
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 5:23:38 PM
A little too 'newspeak' to me, I'm afraid. 1984 really wasn't intended as a guidebook, you know!?
 kohavah
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 13
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 5:29:03 PM
I do not agree to a unisex/neutral language. It is actually more complicated. One must have as much information, as is possible to make a correct interpretation. Language is very important, and must not be neautralized. I liken it to removing a part of the brain. That which is whole is missing. You end up with a language with holes. Not wise.
 granz
Joined: 1/22/2010
Msg: 14
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 7:33:24 PM
Stripping it of words that have been created to convey a more emotional feeling than others, or to recognize sex, removes the very essence of the fact that we are human, and that we do have 2 different sexes. Why deny this? Why remove it from a language we use to communicate these things?


"Emotional"? We're talking about words such as actress, heroine, etc. Personal pronouns would still communicate the sex of a person. I was asking you why we needed special terms depending on gender. Why is a female hero a heroine? Is there a disparity between a hero and a heroine? Why isn't there a male / female dichotomy with other words and titles?
 2ears1mouth
Joined: 7/13/2009
Msg: 15
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 7:38:37 PM
The language does have a "bug in the system" when it comes to describing an unknown person of uncertain or unspecified gender. "He" implies an incorrect inference, and "they" implies a group....
 kohavah
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 16
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 8:38:07 PM
Human Judges aren't very smart. You can not use abreviations. You must use the whole word.
 JustDukky
Joined: 7/8/2004
Msg: 17
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 9:18:08 PM

You can not use abreviations. You must use the whole word.

Who says?...The judge?...What does he know? If it's an admiralty court (which they all are if there's no jury) he's just an employee of a business anyway. If he says "order in the court" we should just tell him we want a double cheesburger & sit down. If the bailiff walks up, we should address him as "garcon."
 kohavah
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 18
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 9:39:00 PM
Put this in your neutral language bible. A "Jury" is simply a small group or mob of actors, by the "We" people. Put the words dangerous, ignorant and unjust in your neutral language bible.

I do have one question for the OP: The word Whore, as in Whore of the Earth. Is "IT" a male or a female? I bet you do not know. You see the "language" was neutralized, and for all practical purposes virtually destroyed thousands of years ago.

Kohavah
 OMG!WTF!
Joined: 12/3/2007
Msg: 19
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History
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 1/31/2010 10:39:28 PM

I was asking you why we needed special terms depending on gender. Why is a female hero a heroine? Is there a disparity between a hero and a heroine? Why isn't there a male / female dichotomy with other words and titles?


I hate to play the straight role here, what with all the d'ckhead talk, and I'm totally just guessing, but I think the answer to the original question probably has more to do with the origin of the word rather than any conscious choice by english speakers to "dichotomize" certain words or "disparage" certain groups. I'd assume words with romantic origins might take a suffix ending like -ess or -ix while germanic or greek words don't. Or maybe the opposite. But in general, most modern english words have no genetic markers. We're already like 99.9% neutral.

I'd save the d'ckhead title for the lawyers.
 slybandit
Joined: 7/10/2006
Msg: 20
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 2/1/2010 7:53:11 AM
I would not, for several reasons.

1. The philosophical underpinnings of such a "movement" are dubious at best. It looks, offhand, like a crude parody of linguistic relativity, the idea that the varying cultural concepts and categories inherent in different languages affect the cognitive classification of the experienced world in such a way that speakers of different languages think and behave differently because of it. Change the language, change the behaviour, supposedly.

If anyone can demonstrate to me that, for example, Chinese society is less gender discriminatory because of the absence of gendered nouns in the language, I might take it more seriously, but the evidence for this just is not there. Oppression is oppression, regardless if you describe it as liberation. Feel free to ask anyone who ever lived under the pre-1989 USSR about that.

2. Obsession with linguistic usage does nothing to alter real injustices. Rather than spending our time demanding gender-neutral language, make practical changes to acheive gender equality. This sounds like a make-work project for academics and bureaucrats and we have enough of those already.

3. Ordinary citizens should resist efforts by any self-appointed elite to tell them how to speak, think and act. Such resistance should be all the fiercer if the efforts by the elite come clothed in claims about justice and so forth.
 kohavah
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 21
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 2/1/2010 8:10:44 AM
Can a "Man" give birth? Does a Nation come from the Womb? Have you ever seen a horse fly? Is a son, male or female? What about a maiden? Does "It" have a "Head"? The "language" has already been neutralized. Of course, you will have to bring together many self professed intellectuals, who will need you to give them more of your energy(money) which will somehow enable them(the "We: people)to think better, in order that they may cause more damage to the language, then has already been done.
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 22
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 2/1/2010 10:08:57 AM
I think slybandit has hit the nail pretty well on the head in that you would be getting one group attempting to enforce a particular moral/ethical standard, with language being the main tool of this "change." Very 1984-ish.

Also, the question is raised...where's the real benefit? If anything, you risk a lot because some of the meanings could be lost and the result could be even greater misunderstandings, not greater clarifications.

Finally, language is evolving all the time. Not always for the better, granted, but it does change. So such changes may already be in progress naturally.
 itsallinthesoul
Joined: 6/26/2009
Msg: 23
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 2/2/2010 7:58:52 PM
Egads...no I wouldn't support it. It is getting hard enough trying to remember what NOT to say to offend someone...please let's not make it any harder than it is....

Although on second thought if it helps us to move towards equality/gender neutrality, ok....it is really MY problem that I find it hard sometimes to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth...why should others suffer for me?
 kiwis01
Joined: 1/25/2010
Msg: 24
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 2/2/2010 8:31:23 PM
the more vocabularies you have the better. at different times or situations or writing a novel or antique moivies or future problems, you use it differently. if you dont need it then dont use it but someone elses will if they are good with words and speeches. french and other nations have words that we dont have. we should copy them and make english better. there are always time to improve for better but not take away. i said add not take away vocabulary or grammar.

what is wrong with your analizing? i dont get it!!!
 x_file_
Joined: 9/30/2009
Msg: 25
Would you support a neutral language movement?
Posted: 2/2/2010 9:15:29 PM


Would you support a "neutral" language movement?


No!

There is nothing wrong with the language. There is something wrong with the people. By "neutralizing" the language you are only fixing a "symptom" and not the root cause.

You can remove all the words and phrases you want. People will just create new ones, or better yet, express what they mean via body language and attitude.

Not to mention that a person can take any ordinary word, and via context, morph it into anything they want.
Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > Would you support a "neutral" language movement?