March 08, 2004

The Twisted Spinster, Andrea Harris, writes:

Is it just me, or does the new habit of using the words “female” and “male” where the words “man” or “woman” used to be used grate on the ears of others than myself?

No, it is not just her (she?): it certainly grates on my nerves. Oddly, none of the 19 comments (so far) on her post mentions that calling women or girls "females" makes the speaker sound like a Ferengi, and that's not a good thing. Star Trek episodes with Ferengi involved do tend to be more amusing, but you still don't want to sound like one.

Tangential linguistic pedantry:

One of her commentators (16th comment) mentions the Danes who invaded England in the Middle Ages and "ravished convents and monasteries". I think he means that they ravaged them. No doubt they ravished the nuns while they were ravaging their convents, and they may well have ravished a monk or two along the way, but (to simplify only slightly) "ravage" means "plunder" while "ravish" means "rape". Of course, like "flaunt" and "flout", they are often confused in these degenerate days.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at March 08, 2004 11:24 PM

Remember: *First* loot, *then* pillage!

Posted by: Dave on March 9, 2004 04:37 PM

Proper usage is important, doc, but it's a tough road to ho. I wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot poll.

Posted by: Robert on March 10, 2004 04:51 AM

One that grates on MY ears is overuse of the word "persons" to mean "people" -- but maybe I've just read too much 4th century theological controversy.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler on March 10, 2004 10:47 AM

Ah, but some style pundits would complain about the use of "people" in place of "persons"!

Posted by: David on March 10, 2004 06:51 PM

Sure, the stylists would, but try saying to a class "Now, really, persons!" without cracking up.

Posted by: Michael Tinkler on March 11, 2004 09:38 PM

It doesn't grate on my ears. In fact I rather like it. Not sure why. Possibly because I'm tired of hypersensitivity over use of the word "man" to represent humanity.

Posted by: Dean Esmay on March 12, 2004 02:20 AM

I must sadly say that I've fallen into the clutches of the "male/female" usage as opposed to "man/woman".

I have no idea why.

Adding another item to the to-do list....

Posted by: Ricky on March 12, 2004 10:42 PM

"I'm tired of hypersensitivity"

Me too. Lets get back to the real issues, like why we allow Presidents to lie so liberally.

Posted by: IXLNXS on March 13, 2004 11:12 PM

Well we tried preventing Presidential lying IX, by impeaching one for perjury in a civil rights case, but almost all the liberals joined ranks and defended his right to perjure himself and break the law. Better luck next time, but you may have to wait till Hillary is in the White House to get another perjurer there.

Note 1. Being mistaken about something, because the intel you had to rely on to decide about the issue was not as accurate as you would have liked, is not lying.

Note 2. I said "civil rights case" above since most of Clinton's defenders would have regarded a sexual harassment case as a civil rights case, had anybody but Slick Willy been the defendent.

Posted by: Michael Lonie on March 14, 2004 07:50 PM

They ravished the convents of the nuns' chastity and ravished the monasteries of their gold and silver ornaments. How about that?

Posted by: Michael Lonie on March 14, 2004 07:52 PM