Sunday, January 30, 2011

Topic: Nonsexist Use of Language

Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.

Question: What is the importance of “nonsexist” use of language?

Answer: The following policy of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) on the nonsexist use of language was published in the January 1976 English Journal.

Sexist usages and assumptions distort our language and perpetuate the arbitrary assignment of roles on the basis of sex. Our ability to view the world accurately and to communicate our perceptions depends in part on the language we use. The use of sexist language warps our perceptions, whether we are the writer or speaker, reader or listener.

English teachers have a special opportunity and obligation to demonstrate, through their teaching and writing, that language can become nonsexist without sacrificing either precision or grace. The National Council of Teachers of English should encourage the use of nonsexist language, particularly through its publications and periodicals.

Comment: Begin in the plural and stay in the plural and you will avoid such ugly usages as he or she, him or her, s/he, etc. RayS.

“Board of Directors Actions in San Diego.” English Journal (January 1976), p. 10.

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