2013-09-01Some time ago, while writing in English, I would scrupulously seek substitutes for generic (masculine gender) nouns and pronouns thinking that I should follow the latest tendencies in the language development and apply the norms of “inclusive language.”  The norms were suggested by the National Council of Teachers of English (an American professional organization founded in 1911 and dedicated to “improving the teaching and learning of English at all levels of education) and sanctified by the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary which permitted the use of the third person plural personal pronouns, “they,” “their,” or “them,” to refer back to an indefinite singular antecedent, such as “a child”, “a pedestrian”, “everybody”, etc. – e.g. “Everybody should be aware of their (another variant: “of his or her”) responsibility…” In Dickens’ times English speakers would rather say “his responsibility”.

Of late, I have started to be less fastidious about gender neutrality and more plain-talking. I can even (profanely!) say that Mrs. (not Ms.!) so-and-so “was the chairman”; I’d rather say “Indian” instead of “Native American” (also called “First Nation”), or “Black” instead of  “African American”. I would not hesitate to use the attributes “deaf” and “blind” applying them to physically disabled people, who are now respectively named “hearing impaired” and “visually impaired”, and I would certainly use the word “Christmas” for Christmas – not the “Holiday season.”

I tried to explain to myself why I am returning to “basics.” I thought that my case could be best interpreted through a talk I once had with an American mother. She came from Midwest in the U.S. and she was rather conservative in her views. When I remarked that her son (I knew her son too) was liberal-minded, unlike the rest of the family, she smiled: “Let him get older: he’ll become one of the family too.”

Isn’t it that with time we are getting more “politically incorrect”? The secular mainstream may disagree, but I, for one, know that the Bible is all true (you should only be able to read it the way it should). I think it’s wrong for terrorists to deny the existence of Israel and to use their wives and children as a shield in their warfare. I disagree that the Ukrainians and the Russians are “fraternal” nations. On the part of gypsies (it’s quite a good word – I don’t see why the word “Roma” should be better) it’s a gross violation of the norms of community life to make a mess in the centre of Paris or any other European city. I do not understand why the diversity of sexuality-based cultures should be a part of high school curricula…

I am getting older… And more “politically incorrect.”



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