Demanning our language


The National Association for Equality in the Workplace (NAEW) has announced an ambitious and somewhat controversial initiative — in cooperation with the US English Teachers Coalition — to remove “hot button” gender phonemes from standard American English over the next five years, ensuring that our vocabulary no longer contains gender-suggestive syllables or spellings. The NAEW launched the campaign today, explaining its 62-month goal to “de-gender” our lexicon by July 2020 — allocating five months per letter of the alphabet to phase out gender-suggestive words, with an extra couple of months built in to address the large percentage of male-dominant “m” words.

Single-syllable names with a gender bias won’t be immune from this emasculating process; words containing proper names — such as Mark and Hal — will be revised, although those embedded with unisex monosyllabic names like Al and Sam will avoid alteration.

Below are examples of words that will be revised for the new gender-blind lexicon, which it’s hoped will be introduced into elementary school texts and curricula in the states of Vermont and Oregon by 2021, and in standard American dictionaries by the end of the century’s first quarter. The first act of the NAEW-USETC initiative was to petition the editors of Merriam Webster and American Heritage dictionaries in a bid to secure their cooperation in a project that has been described by some linguists and social commentators as a giant step forward for mankind* (which will eventually be revised to become pankind — see below). Oxford English Dictionaries, invited to comment on the American initiative, issuing the following statement: “No comMENt.”

The initiative was announced this morning in the Journal for Psycho-Social Linguistics, where you can read more about the controversial 5-year gender-linguistic exercise.

landmark — landrobin

manual  — danual (adj), sanual (n)

manipulate — ganipulate

manifold — banifold

manner and mannerism — stanner and stannerism

mantle — fantle

boysenberry — goysenberry

flamboyance –flamdoyance

boycott — moycott

maleficent — caleficent

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3 thoughts on “Demanning our language

  1. jennifer

    You say vs.
    I say v

    So is it: vs v v?
    Or: vs vs v?
    Or: vs v v V vs vs v?

    [spins out of room…]

  2. Ingeborg S. Nordén

    I suspected this was a fake when I saw the April 1 date-stamp. 🙂

    P.S. on the how-to-abbreviate-versus problem: I’ve seen the v. form used only for legal cases (like Roe v. Wade). The vs. form can appear in any context, although it’s mostly non-professionals who use it for legal cases. (Kramer vs. Kramer is a film about a divorce-court battle, but the screenwriter might have chosen the vs. spelling to imply other conflicts as well.)


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