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Re: Debian, lists and discrimination

On Tue, 10 Aug 2004 21:27:47 +0100
Andrew Suffield <asuffield@debian.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Aug 09, 2004 at 04:42:06PM -0500, Peter Samuelson wrote:
> > > I'm not convinced that this is a useful data point. Sounds like a
> > > sample with a built-in bias. Anybody who writes a "style guide"
> > > obviously has an axe to grind.
> > 
> > Errrrr.  You act as though the style guides she looked at talked about
> > nothing *except* gender pronouns.  Do you really think editorial
> > guidelines for publications do not have anything else to talk about?
> > You should consider the distant possibility that these guidelines would
> > have existed anyway, with or without the third person singular pronoun
> > issue.  To conclude they were necessarily composed by someone with an
> > axe to grind about pronoun use is silly.
> Who said anything about pronoun use? They're obviously written by
> somebody with an axe to grind about writing style.
> If you've ever read any of these things, you'll observe two common
> themes: "My way is the only correct way to write English", and huge
> numbers of essentially arbitrary rules.

Well, it does depend who's style guide you're reading. In terms of editorial style guides, they've usually seemed to me to exist to force journos to write understandable text =)
Anyway I do rather disagree with you that pronoun usage is at the same level as connector naming. For whatever reason, it does seem that people read 'he' as meaning a male entity, and not as a sexless 3rd person, and hence using 'he' extensively in will give the overall impression that you're talking about a male entity. Language shapes thought. 
Alternatively look at it this way, if there are people that want to sort this, they will send patches and those patches will probably fix up the legibilty of these messages in other ways, as they'll constitute an editing step. I wouldn't complain about this useful work.


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