Tuesday, February 26, 2008

because women aren't people

David Gelernter, a professor of not English and not Linguistics but of Computer Science at Yale, has a brilliant piece in the Weekly Standard about the way that feminists have ruined the English language by campaigning for the use of words like 'chairperson' and pronouns like 's/he'. The whole thing is quite angry and, in my opinion, unnecessarily so. But one of my favorite parts is below:

But English used to be a language of the people, by the people, for the people. "The living language is like a cowpath," wrote White; "it is the creation of the cows themselves, who, having created it, follow it or depart from it according to their whims or their needs." We have allowed our academic overlords to plow up White's cow-path and replace it with a steel-and-concrete highway, hemmed in by guardrails and heavily patrolled by police.

It's pretty clear that, according to Gerlernter, the only people allowed to shape the path are men. He shows his colors even more emphatically when he discusses the trouble of what to call Ludwig Wittgenstein if not a 'great man', since 'great man history' is no longer acceptably labeled such. He seems to miss the point .... since Wittgenstein was a man, you can call him a man. But when you talk about 'great man history', you should try not to linguistically eliminate the possibility of a female falling into that category.

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