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February 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM

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Washington state law adopts gender-neutral language

Change for the sake of change

Our society is beset by an overabundance of guns, people who text while driving, an underfunded mental-health system and too many education reformers bent on making every kid an engineer.

Big issues, those. But not as important to some as making our language more gender-neutral [“State law moves toward gender-neutral language,” NWMonday, Feb. 4].

No one can quarrel with “police officers” instead of “policemen,” since there are now many women on the force. Ditto “firefighters,” instead of “firemen.”

But that adults, armed with college degrees, can actually suggest that “ombudsmen” become “ombuds,” that “jury foremen” become “forepersons,” and that a “journeyman” be called a “journey-level person” borders on the ridiculous.

Worse yet, we cannot be sure the gender-neutral folks will stop at eliminating the letters m-a-n from all occupations. Emboldened by their success, they may next attack such noble words and phrases as:

One-upmanship, low man on the totem pole, man-sized, manhandle, man on the street man-to-man, man in the moon, and Renaissance man.

I write this as an elderly “man of the world” who dislikes change for the sake of change.

--Don Duncan, Kirkland

Time and energy should be put elsewhere

I see the movement to do away with words ending in “man” to be based on a misguided ego. It has been my understanding that words, such as chairman, craftsman, Englishman, etc., are derived from the word “human,” as in human being. The word “human” is not gender specific. Therefore, I do not consider words ending in “man” to be gender specific.

With issues such as fiscal planning, health care, immigration and gun control, why is an elected official spending time and energy on a subject based on a misunderstanding of the meaning of words as they were originally created?

I can’t imagine referring to a female as a “woperson” or our species as “hupersons.” By what authority does an official have the right to choose which words are to be changed, and which words will remain?

--Dave Tregoning, Auburn


Most Popular Comments
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So if I cannot be a wo-man or a fe-male...am I relegated back to being a girl, or what... MORE
Will we see the words 'woman and women' replaced? This is not about 'neutral'. I ... MORE
Where to cut the state budget??? How about the Code Reviser's office for starters. ... MORE

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