The Pronoun Wars

Mar 26, 2021 by

“Mommie Dearest”?  That’s the title of a book about actress Joan Crawford written by her adopted daughter.  The title flies in the face of the new rigorous measures to advance gender-neutrality. Will future editions be called “Parent Dearest”?

People can generally be divided into two main groups:  those who are too sensitive to the words they use and those who are not sensitive enough.

Politicization of language has taken a toll on our freedom of expression.  We must be mindful not only of our choice of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, but even inert pronouns like “his’ and  “her”, have become explosive and capable of doing great damage to human relations.

It need not be so. People of tolerance should not have to fear the shadow of the grammar police.  We are players in a semantic theater of the absurd.

According to the Daily Mail,Australia,  citing a Daily Telegraph story, teachers at a New South Wales school will no longer use “mom” or “dad”, in deference to the vision of “non-gender specific free play”.  Clapping is also being de-commissioned as a legitimate means of showing approval, as susceptible ears may be insulted.  Instead, children may punch the air and wriggle about on a spot”, which will “expend children’s energy and reduce fidgeting”.  

Hugging, a common phenomenon of physical “language” is also taboo here.  The rehabilitated culture does not permit such scope for skulduggery.

When “Down Under” sneezes, Manhattan’s NoHo catches cold.

At the Grace Church School, incendiary terms of endearment like “mom” and “dad” have been retired from the lexicon of polite discourse. This remedy to the ills of misunderstanding was seized upon on a pretext of commitment to “the dignity and worth common to humanity.”

Ah, if only it were so simple!

No doubt it’s a good idea to combat entrenched assumptions about families and provide guidance about how to respectfully inquire about ethnicity and other aspects of background without being invasive. Some words may have the inadvertent effect of forcible probing. Nomenclature about race, gender and sexual orientation certainly does indeed require non-judgemental empathy.  No argument there.

Dedication to inclusion and diversity is sublime, but replacing “uncle” with “parent’s sibling” is ridiculous. Good causes are ill- served by morbid excess.

The psychedelic linguistical head-trip consists of more than the revolutionary tampering with pronouns. It has invaded the US Congress.

Or so I was led by my unwary nose to believe.  The Daily Caller and Breitbart are among the online media that view the changes as symptomatic of a hostile takeover of language by the “far, far left of the (Democrat) party”.

Although they correctly noted that at the start of the legislative session in January, a decision was made “to honor all gender identities by  engineering pronouns and familial relationships…to be gender-neutral”.  That included grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, father, mother”.

Those claims sounded too far-fetched to be taken at face-value.  I’m glad I wasn’t led by my unwary nose to the false conclusion that these and other pronouns had been assassinated from familiar discourse and natural reference.

Our New York City public schools have maintained tradition.

The fact is that the only place where gender-specific language was superseded by gender-neutrality is The Rules of the 117th Congress.  That’s just one document.  Implying otherwise was a textbook-worthy illustration of a deliberate omission of textural context in order to manipulate perception and steer it away from the truth.

There are far graver threats to our civilization than the fine-tuning of communication. Zealous caretakers of language are the new Neros fiddling while the New Age burns.

Pronouns aren’t going anywhere.  They’ll continue to lack the glamorous possibilities of adjectives. 

But descriptive speech is still under attack from the stealthy reformers at Success Academy and similar charter schools.  By mandating the word “scholar” for the banned word “student”, they are the agents of language impurity and confusion of tongues.

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