Friday, 3 September 2010

Can I be blamed?

While we may bemoan the loss of the ordinary meaning of the word ‘gay’ (and I do) we need to get over it. (see here)
Language changes, probably faster than most of us think. You only have to think of the popular use of such words as ‘cool’ and ‘sick’, to realise that there is not just one casualty. We just have to get over it and move on. This is not ‘political correctness’ it is language moving on.
While we are on about political correctness, too, I want to ask "What is wrong with being 'correct'?
The term is so often used derogatorily that we forget that there is a point in it after all. Why, for instance and in particular, in a society which purports that all people are equal and that gender makes no difference should we refer to people by their gender. Or use, as used to be the custom, the masculine to include the feminine.
We shouldn't say "he" when we mean "he and she" or "she".
Some of this grates. In filling in people's marital status, for example, you are now required to put in "Never validly married"...which is adequately gender neutral...but very clunky.
Thirty years ago an unmarried man wrote "bachelor" and an unmarried woman wrote "spinster".
You can actually see from this example that though technically this terminology is the gender specific reality (popular speak)...bachelor often has the connotation of younger rather than older, and spinster quite the reverse. Spinster often has connotations frigid and unfriendly...again bachelor is sexy and outgoing.
Neither caricature is terribly true or helpful in a legal document. It is certainly not necessary!!!

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