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Re: Article on Debian Women

Hi Jutta,

I read your message and I agree with you. I vote for "you" rather than
for he/she (which is usually used in manuals). English is very gender -
neutral. One or user, or you, nothing shows the gender. Unlike English,
in most other languages I know (Spanish, French, Bulgarian), everything
is having gender. It is much more difficult to avoid the form there.
So, I really think it will be great to speak in you. At least English
allows us to be neutral...

However, I check man ls, and all it gives is: ls - list directory
contents. It does not mention any user, rather than describes the
actiions. I think this is the most neutral way or writing documentation.
With my modest experience in translating software into Bulgarian,
whenever there is a command we (since we have no infinitiv form of the
verbs) transform the verb into its noun form (which in English is the
infinitiv). So we avoid the person at all. 

Best wishes,


On нд, 2004-12-12 at 16:08 +0100, Jutta Wrage wrote:
> There are some strange among some feminists, but that real is a 
> minority.
> Our all objection is having real equality and that is common sense 
> between me and others and most of the women - and even men - 
> participating women's movement.
> Beside that: making women more visible in Debian Project will attract 
> more women and, maybe, in some years there will be not that many 
> discussion why women have to be made visible, too, any longer.
> Related to the discussion on newsforge I have a question to the 
> audience: When I was young, I learned that english manuals use "you" 
> (second person) instead of third person and something like "man" in 
> German language. Now it seems that this is mostly reversed to using 
> "he" instead of "you" and talking to directly to the user in a
> manual. 
> Is that US specific? Why did that change? Couldn't we try to reverse 
> the change? It is not only that using "you" is gender neutral, I
> think 
> it is more user friendly at all talking to the reader directly in a 
> manual.
> "if you type 'ls' on the prompt you will get a list of all files in
> the 
> current directory" sounds even more friendly as "If one types 'ls' on 
> the prompt, there will be shown a list of all files in the current 
> directory" or "If the user types 'ls' on the prompt, he/she will get
> a 
> list of all files in the current directory".  I think this simple 
> example shows that the discussion about gender neutral manuals is not 
> only women related. Insisting writing "he" seems to be a principle 
> using gender biased wording even if it is not friendly to _any_ user. 
> And that is sexism pure: Forcing usage of male gender, even if that 
> ignores male's interests.

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