Can We Fix this Age-Old Language Error?
102 years ago, women finally achieved the right to vote in America.They endured great opposition and suffering to accomplish that and crossed the finish line with one vote that made all the difference.
Yet, today, ask women if equality has been achieved, and many will say ‘no’. The right to vote was one big step toward what we wanted, but there are others that keep us from that coveted feeling/knowing that we are equal. One of those is the English language. English remains very patriarchal.
As a linguist trained in the late 1970s, I have been digging around in English for over a decade and have unearthed an old error that I and others believe must be resolved if we truly want equality with men. “English is almost entirely a man’s language; there are literally no words for those of us who aren’t men (by birth or preference) that don’t attach us to men. With a few changes, we can fix English so that it includes us.”
Can changing a few English words change the ancient preference for patriarchy?
Welcome to my new blog where we will be exploring what it would be like to convert English to an inclusive language in just a few words.
Some of you are already aware that English is a ‘man’s’ language because it contains thousands of words that prefer men.
We like men… and we also believe it’s time for the world’s most commonly used language to have some words for those of us who aren’t men, and we’ve come up with a simple way to do that.
In our context, ‘inclusive’ means: words for both primary sexes, men and ‘not men’. We are calling our version of English ‘ WEnglish for WEquality’ because it’s so important. WE like using ‘WE’ because it draws us together, or as our linguist, Vivian Probst, likes to say it, ‘to gather’.
Curious? WE hope so.
Excited? WE are too!
Think it’s about time?
WE couldn’t agree more.
We hope you’ll join us on our amazing journey to fix this age-old error and make English inclusive.
It’ll take time and ‘gathering’ to get English to WElcome a few (very few) word changes, so stay tuned and get ready to change English ‘word by word’--just a few is all it takes!