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Forced to use (gender) language conventions in university

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Arent11, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Say whut? :dubious:

    This whole "cultural appropriation" thing has gone so far off the map of being reasonable, that it's in another universe.

    I suppose they think that in all the millennia that people have been piercing their ears (men, too), nobody else might have invented hoop earrings at least 2500 years before there was ever a concept of Latinx students?

    If it turns the language into a childish mess where it's a difficult thing for students to compose a complex sentence either in speech or writing, I would say that it is damaging.

    It's damaging when a language shifts to the point where one generation has no idea what another generation is even talking about.
     
  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I see universities as institutions that shape the thoughts of those who will be leading our society in the next 20-30-40 years. So while human languages cannot be controlled the way you can control a programming language, a university can nevertheless be a powerful tool that shapes the thoughts and norms of future generations.

    It would probably take more than just a couple misguided professors to influence the evolution of something like the German language.. but since the university is such an important and influential institution, it is IMO important to keep it in check and speak up when the power it wields is misused.
     
  3. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    Using they to refer to an unknown person sounds find, but to refer to a specific individual it's just bizarre. It's like the weird formulas used to refer to royalty in the Ancien Régime.
     
  4. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Yeah as a native speaker, I can safely say that it doesn't sound weird to me at all. It is a syntactic/morphological usage I hear quite often in everyday speech.
     
  5. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    If someone uses a plural pronoun, the assumption is that more than one person is being referenced.
     
  6. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    So then I expect thou never usest "you" when referring to a single person, yea?

    They can also be used in the singular, and has been used that way at least since Middle English.

    cf. German sie (she, singular; they, plural, gender nonspecific), Dutch ze/zij (she, singular; they, plural, gender nonspecific), MLG se (she singular; they, plural, gender nonspecific), etc.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  7. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    :rolleyes:

    If I'm speaking to someone (one person), of course I will use the word "you" because that's correct English.

    If I'm referring to someone (one person), I prefer to use "he" or "she".


    Of course this matters more in formal communications or writing. In casual conversation or writing I'm as capable of being ungrammatical as the next person. It took awhile, though, to force myself to type "teh" when I first joined the Cheezburger site.
     
    GenMarshall likes this.
  8. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    I don't think most native speakers will agree with you here, as the post immediately below exemplifies. The expectation is that when you use "they" you refer to multiple people, or at least unknown individuals, which may be one or more people. If you use "they" to refer to a specific individual, it sounds very weird. It's like you're talking about Louis XIV or something.

    I'm not saying it is wrong (I don't know and don't care), I'm saying it's weird.
     
  9. tjs282

    tjs282 Socially isolated since 1975

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    I think Owen's point was that 'you' was originally the formal/plural 2nd person pronoun, equivalent to 'vous' in French, or 'Sie' (with a capital) in German; and that the 'correct' 2nd person familiar/singular in Ye Olde Englishe (sorry Owen!) was originally 'thou'...

    On topic:
    On my own account, I frankly can't wait for Germans to agree to thoroughly degender their/your/our language! That way, I can feel happy (instead of lazy) about (still) using 'das' for everything... ;)
     
  10. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    You can rest assured that, as soon as my friend earns his grade as a teacher (If he is allowed to), he will go out of his way to teach each & every of his future students/pupils that genderized language is an invention of evil witches, who should be burned on the stake ;)

    The problem is that such demands to use certain language etc. can be used to identify people who might disagree and simply bar them from becoming teachers, journalists, politicians.
     
  11. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Technically it isn't. Ye (because if we're going to be originalists/pedants we should at least do it properly) is the plural second person form. Thou is for the singular. So, per your definition, everybody should only be using ye to refer to plural groups of people, because "if someone uses a plural pronoun, the assumption is that more than one person is being referenced," correct?
     
  12. GenMarshall

    GenMarshall Night Elven Ghost Agent

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    Welcome to Generation Snowflake. Better have some aspirin ready since it's going to be a big headache.
     
  13. LucyDuke

    LucyDuke staring at the clock

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    That could be a problem, yes. Do you think it's a serious risk? Not that some people would try to effect very dramatic change, but that they would successfully effect that change, and make it difficult for people to communicate?

    I'm interested in your hostility to change. What makes this misuse?
     
  14. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I notices recently in a british newspaper that the word "actor" was used for actresses. And became extremely pissed off because it actually undermines the understanding of the issue (some sexual harassment thing). Information is being deliberately degraded for... what? The article became revoltingly confusing.

    You know, personally I am more worried by seeing universities in my country with mostly national students demanding lecturers to give their lectures and notes in english because some Erasmus interchange students may be present. English is neither an official nor required language in my country, and the lectures will be done not in clear english but in whatever the lecturer can manage, meaning bad accents and mistakes natural to people who do not use the language daily. Then students who themselves are not experts in understanding english (anglo-saxon cultural invasion notwithstanding) are expected to follow that!
    Managers questioned on this will say "EU", and "money, foreigners will pay more" (never mind that these places are state-owned and mostly paid from the state budget), and "look at us, we're very cosmopolitan".

    I wonder how it is being done in other countries.
     
  15. uppi

    uppi Deity

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    I my time, the professor could choose the language of the lecture when announcing it and then had to stick to that. Of course, that only applied as long as someone complained, but back then there were always some students who had a strong preference to their native language.

    In my opinion, if you want to have foreign students, you need to have a substantial amount of courses in English. For undergraduate courses, which are quite similar all over the world, anyway, the native language might be preferable. But for graduate courses a diversity of lecturers as well of students is quite beneficial to the education and the scientific output of the university. At least in the sciences, most of the primary literature is in English*, anyway, so you might as well save the effort to translate everything (and there will be a lot of terms, for which no accepted translation exists, so you would have a bad mix of languages, anyway).

    *There are a few exceptions: some German, some French, some Russian, but I have never encountered a relevant source in Portuguese -- despite a fair amount of collaboration with Brazilians.
     
  16. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Restricting this issue only to arguments on what is practical, while this diversity may be beneficial and english be the lingua franca currently, there is a big difference between having lectures given by people fluent on the language they use, and by people who use it as a second or third language. Literature in another language is far easier to understand and work with than following speech by someone who isn't even very fluent in the language he's using. It's a case of good intentions, meet reality, and ignore it. A different situation is when foreign lecturers come in for a semester or two, in which case using a lingua franca is the obvious solution.
     
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  17. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    There are whole threads on this and other forums where I have no idea whatsoever of what people are talking about, because their posts are full of urban slang and American pop culture references I don't get. These terms can, and do, migrate into regular speech as catchphrases and slogans.

    It should be interesting to see the age spread of the city councilors who get elected here in a few days. The youngest candidate is 18 years old. I didn't make it to any of the public forums, so I haven't heard any of the new candidates speak. I had to rely on information from the newspapers. and sincerely hope I didn't vote for anyone who peppers his/her speech modern affectations that just get in the way of communicating actual ideas or information.


    I'm not seeing any hostility in warpus' post. :dunno:
     
  18. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    In the present case, it's probably more the intention behind the "change". It is deeply ideological. From a natural scientific view,
    sex is determined by chromosomes & sexual bevavior is chosen, to a certain extent, freely. There is simply no reason at all - apart
    from ideological ones - to redefine established words like "sex" or "gender" to mean sexual behavior instead of biological sex or
    to redefine language to account for sexual behavior.

    The only reason there is, is ideology, namely the viewpoint that any difference between living beings at all - whether it is men or
    women or humans in general - may not be tolerated. And since there are such differences in nature, they have to be hidden
    from view, because they contradict the ideology. And one way to do that, is to burn books & change language.
     
  19. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    But that would be to suggest that language is itself rational, natural, logical, apolitical, and unideological.

    And I really shouldn't say language, as this has nothing to do with language or the way that language is spoken. This is about accepted applications of prescriptivist writerly conventions in an academic setting. So really that would be to say that prescriptivist writerly convention is rational, scientific, apolitical, etc.
     
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  20. Robo-Star

    Robo-Star Prince

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    Same here.

    To clarify: using "they" to refer to an individual whose gender is specified sounds weird ("ask the man what they think they're playing at"); using "they" to refer to an otherwise specific individual doesn't ("ask the lecturer what they think they're playing at").
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2017

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