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Forced to use (gender) language conventions in university

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

  1. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    Which is, of course, not always the case. But that is, in fact, also the whole point ;) A language does, necessarily,
    have to "make sense". If it doesn't, you can't use it to discuss anything.

    Let's just look at the present case: Ususally, you would have relatively clearly defined words like sex & gender,
    you have male & female, obviously referring to biology, you have hermaphodites for very special cases
    & you have sexual behavior to discuss whether someone is heterosexual, homosexual, transgender etc.
    It's all very neat and clean, if you want to talk about how good looking that man over there is it's no problem,
    if you want to talk about hermaphodites, it's also clear, if you want to talk about transsexual behavior
    it's also fine.

    Now, let's change the basic definition of some of those words. Let's simply change sex & gender to
    refer to sexual behavior instead of (biological) sex. Now, if you want to talk with me about "how good
    looking that man over there is", I don't know anymore whether you mean an actual (biological) man,
    or maybe a woman. If you talk about "gender differences" I don't know whether you mean actual
    differences like pregnancy or only behavior.

    If you change the meaning of more words, you quickly arrive at a language that can simply not
    anymore be used to meaningfully discuss anything at all. And then, sorry, I will simply switch to
    another language that has not been stripped of its meaning.
    A language might, as you rightfully say, not be completely rational, scientific, logical, but at its
    very core it needs to be at least a little bit of that to be of any use whatsoever.
     
  2. Robo-Star

    Robo-Star Prince

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    You do if you know that the definitions have changed - whether you're willing to accept the new definitions is the moot point.
     
  3. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    This whole argument is predicated on a number of faulty assumptions.

    1) "Usually you would have relatively clearly defined words..."

    Clearly defined by what? A dictionary? A dictionary is not an objective repository of the official meanings of every word as accepted by the speakers. It is rather a descriptivist snapshot of how many speakers of a language tend to use a word at the time when that dictionary was published. To assume that the dictionary is then end-all be all source of what a word necessarily means, or that it is a prescriptivist cudgel with which to beat any unorthodoxy of colloquial, regional, or personal usage of a word or sets of words is to err tremendously.

    Some elucidative food for though:

    Is this blue or green?


    Is this black or gray?

    2) Words change in their meaning all the time. It's kind of the way languages work. I mean I already took Valka to task over this very point a couple of posts up but everybody on the planet uses the word "you" incorrectly, if we're speaking from a grammatical, semantic, originalist perspective. Not only is "you" a plural form, but it is an objective form, viz., the form you use when the pronoun is acting as a direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition. In literal terms, to walk around telling someone that "you went to the store", "you bought some milk", "you put them in bags", is a morphological equivalent of me saying "us went to the store", "us bought some milk", "us put them in bags", when referring to solely to myself. The language changed - not necessarily for any logical or rational reason; Hochdeutsch, Plattdietsch, Nederlands, and Frysk have all retained their 2nd plural equivalents (and indeed English had to reinvent new forms to refill the lost use-case, e.g. y'all, you guys, all y'all, etc), but because it's simply what languages do, often, and often without any rhyme or reason to it.

    3) Trans is not a sexual orientation, and has nothing to do with sexuality. Zip. Zero. Nada. You can be trans and gay. You can be trans and straight. You can be trans and bisexual. You can be trans and asexual. I mean your position here is already faulty even without that. "Now, if you want to talk with me about "how good looking that man over there is", I don't know anymore whether you mean an actual (biological) man,or maybe a woman." How would you know this? You're taking an essentialist position that gender exists solely as a product of genitalia, and has nothing to do with social markers, signalling, or personal gender expression, so how do you know that man is a man unless he is nude? News flash: most humans cover their junk most of the time, so if we're defining gender purely on inguinal terms, we'd very rapidly run into some serious logistical problems. The point is, that you are correct in that language exists to facilitate communication, and it changes to reflect the milieu of communication of a particular period. Because it would be impractical to run around grabbing every person's crotch before applying a pronoun to them, we tend to go based on markers, and as psychologists, sociologists, biologists, and social theorists have developed a better understanding of gender and gender expression, and as that understanding has filtered down into the lay world, the way we approach those terms has changed. Scientifically.

    4) This is the most crucial, and probably should have been first on the list, but the problem in question here actually has nothing to do with redefining gender. This is about developing a set of words or morphological meanings that capture both (or all) genders without specifying, hierarchizing, or preassuming them from the start. You could remove the gender spectrum, and impose the binary on the matter and you'd still have the same fundamental problem. How do you talk about an individual whose crotch you haven't felt up yet without: a) misgendering them, b) default to masculine signifiers, which is to impose a hierarchy of genders. The problem isn't fundamentally a matter of allowing for trans, nonbinary, genderfluid, etc.; it is, rather a problem of being able to in one word or one set of words express "male or female (or both or neither)". This problem is why the impersonal singular they is a thing, and has been a thing at least since the 14th century in English. This is why we've seen lexical changes in the language, e.g. mailman -> mailperson, fireman -> firefighter, congressman -> congressperson. This isn't always perfect from a pedantic etymologist [BUTTAPERTURE] perspective - senator is seen as an acceptable nongendered noun even though in the original Latin -or was a masculine agent suffix, and the female equivalent would have (had there been female senators in Roman times) senetrix, but languages change, and what a word once meant or how a word was once used doesn't necessitate present meaning or present usage.

    5) Again, this actually isn't about changing the language. This is about changing academic prescriptivist writerly convention. Writing != language. Academic [language] != [language]. Writing is prescriptivist. It has to be by definition. Language, that is, what people speak to one another in order to communicate, is not and cannot be prescriptivist.
     
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  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    They're coming up with words that are impossible to pronounce. It's not catching on because it's stupid, but they're forcing students to use these words even though it will not help the students at all later in life, and may instead hider them.

    If they instead came up with cool words like "Firefighter", that worked well in the given language, and was possible to say, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
     
  5. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    But these conventions are only being used in print. Where you don’t have to pronounce them. Should we also get rid of chemical notation? Because I sure as [feces] don’t know how to pronounce Al2(SO4)3•16H2O
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
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  6. Gori the Grey

    Gori the Grey The Poster

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    One wag I know keeps insisting on "the royal you" for this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  7. Oerdin

    Oerdin Deity

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    What happened in the OP should be completely unacceptable to any reasonable person.
     
  8. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Why?
     
  9. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    Words are usually learned by context from parents or peers, not from a dictionary. And words are created or defined by the necessity to have a word to designate a certain object or action. So, the basic structure of our thoughts and language is already predetermined by the nature of the world itself.

    You are missing the point. Of course there is an evolution of language. That is no excuse to change language for obviously ideological reasons. Especially if those reasons are not fueled by any constructive intention, but rather to "educate" people who just want to be left alone.

    I would prefer if you would call that biology & not "essentialist". This is exactly the use of diffuse language that prevents clear arguments & a constructive discussion.

    Nope, the people who advocate these language conventions do so to "educate" people & force them to share their viewpoints. They want to define sex/gender not biologically but by choice. And by changing language they can force others to accept their viewpoint without having to provide any argument.

    I usually see whether someone is male or female. The few cases where that might not be the case are so seldom that it doesn't justify any change of language. Unless you want to make up a reason.

    I also don't see why the use of a general term that coincides with the male or female(!) term imposes a "hierarchy of genders". It is not a "masculine" signifier, when it is used for both male & female.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
  10. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    Many countries had originally a ministry of war.
    Many countries changed this name after WW2 in ministry of defence.

    One can argue (for some of these countries) that this was just a hypocritical disguise.
    But it does set the tone, also for children, reflecting the opinion of many, changing to a degree the mindset of a culture.
    Was there a big political debate about it with arguments ? I guess not.


    I was for many years involved in a 100% volunteer neighborhood paper, 3-weekly, tabloid format, some 15,000 each edition.
    Our own paper, giving news on the activities of more than 30 neighborhood self-organisations, with the news on all our successes against bad landlords, municipial policy changes and new projects for us, office hours for people needing support with governmental institutions, etc, etc.
    We used consistently the at that moment Dutch language method of ******(ster), ******(e) to degenderise.

    I am quite sure that many of the common inhabitants frowned their eyebrows, and accepted it nevertheless without arguments.
    Understanding that most volunteers were driven by causes that included respect for all and equality, also regarding gender.
     
  11. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    No, because you just removed a necessary word from the dictionary. If you now want to talk specifically about a biological male, you have to invent a new word. And that is exactly what will happen, because you cannot change language arbitrarily even if some people here claim that. People will simply invent a new word that designates what they want to talk about or just reject your redefinition.

    That's a very good argument in my favor ;) So, why do you think people didn't oppose renaming the "ministry of war" to "ministry of defence", however they do oppose writing "hero*ine" instead of simply hero?
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Can't you just say "Fireman" when referring to a male firefighter, "Firewoman" when referring to a female firefighter, and "Firefighter" when it's ambiguous?
     
  13. Oerdin

    Oerdin Deity

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    Unless it is specifically an ideological class then standard English should be used as that is what prepares students for the real world. In short, this garbage has absolutely no place in taxpayer funded education.
     
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    I agree but these people are trying to change standard {language}

    Which I don't mind, as long as they figure out cool new words to use. Not words that are impossible to pronounce. That seems to be as stupid as opening a restaurant and selling food that's impossible to eat.
     
  15. west india man

    west india man Immortal

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    ''They'' is pretty easy to pronounce in both singular and plural forms
     
  16. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    It's not.
    It shows that it is common practice to change a language, in this case by the government, to "educate" people, to change their mindset in the desired direction.
     
  17. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    New words and conventions change all the time, new generations, social groups, ideological groups invent and change meanings of words all the time, bottom up. New techs, new functions need new words as well.
    Once the direction is firm, new words will be made up, bottom up, that are more likely degenderised from the start.
     
  18. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    (1) There are some people who support discrimination as long as it is directed against people who do not adhere to their ideology.
    (2) There are some people who actually believe that gender language conventions are about promoting equally, which they are not.
     
  19. Arent11

    Arent11 King

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    It is. You just admitted that gender language conventions are done to "educate" people & change their mindset. Something that other people in this thread have denied ;)

    You just take the standpoint that "the government" does that all the time & therefore people should simply accept it. Which is of course absurd. Why should I voluntarily accept manipulative behavior by teachers, ideological groups or governments? I can of course oppose it.
     
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  20. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Deity

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    A government is not alien to the people.
    A government chosen by the people has the mandate to govern, has the means to get good info and takes actions accordingly. Lots of that info being in the realm of the civil society.
    If you call that manipulative..... well perhaps in a country where the trust in the government is low, where their mandate is more often not used wisely, or distrust is a national sport.

    If you would live in Switzerland, having a referendum democracy, having approx 10 referenda each year, you would know that Switzerland already implemented state degenderising (Die Gleichbehandlung von Frau und Mann in der Gesetzes- und Verwaltungssprache) in 1993 by Law and the people did not bother to have a referendum about it: to tackle or modify it. (Bundesratsbeschluss vom 7. Juni 1993) and here a list of referenda: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_der_eidgenössischen_Volksabstimmungen#44._Legislatur_.281991.E2.80.931995.29

    That does ofc not take away that you can go to Swiss forums and see all kinds of arguments on this topic mentioned here as well. Except the argument that it is a manipulative action of the government.
    And the Swiss still think it is a good thing because they fund initiatives in other countries like Norway do with their oil fund: http://www.unifr.ch/psycho/archives/norway-finland-switzerland-collaboration.

    Regarding that manipulative behavior of teachers: being a good teacher is a real skill. Insights developing at still a high pace. Their source of info experience, colleagues, universities and government. And this is just another insight added for the good of children. If you would spend a day or so in a kindergarten and watch how conflicts between children are handled, you would see a lot of behavior that could be seen (mistakenly) as manipulative.
    I call it socialising.

    Regarding that manipulative behavior of ideological groups: we have free speech.
     

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