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The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing: For writers, editors and speakers 2nd Edition
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The first chapter, "Man as a False Generic," traces the history of gender usages in the English language. This chapter did a great deal to help me personally overcome my initial negative reactions to "feminist" language by explaining how English has grown and evolved over the centuries. For example, "you" was once a plural only (the singular being "thou"), and the use of "they" was once a legitimate generic singular pronoun. Such classical writers as William Thackeray, George Eliot, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and even William Shakespeare used it regularly. Only later, in the 18th century, did it go out of fashion. Now it's back in style again, as a gender-free alternative to "he." (Example: "Each person can decide what they want.")
What I like best about the Handbook is the way it uses actual examples (both good and bad) from published works to illustrate its points. Especially interesting were the references from old grammar books, some of which were so absurdly outdated that I literally laughed out loud.Read more ›
It was a process that would play out many thousands of times with as many women and more. We are all grateful to them for giving us the language and courage to make what we say more accurately describe our experience.
I worked with adolescent girls for years. Given some cultural influences on them, their struggle is not between using 'man' or 'woman,' but in not seeing one thing wrong with referring to each another as 'bitches' and 'hos'.It happens across all cultural and economic strata. For them the book is even more relevant now than then, as it is for the women in their lives who serve as role models, teachers, and family.
It is short but well-written and thorough, tackling major issues in nonsexist writing with humor and clarity. Its detailed, structured table of contents is especially helpful as it enables the reader to get quickly to a desired topic, whether it be the use of "man" as a suffix, "'they" as a singular, gratuitous modifiers, assigning gender to gender-neutral terms, or whatnot. Its examples of (allegedly) sexist and nonsexist writing are useful, and frequently are pulled from actual published works. Shakespeare, for example, is quoted as having written "God send everyone their heart's desire," which is used as evidence that "their" as a singular pronoun has not always been taboo in English; it is only since the eighteenth or nineteenth century, the authors argue, that grammarians began eschewing "their" in favor of "his." Helpful reference notes to books and scholarly articles are included for readers who want to check up on such claims. (This I certainly intend to do in a few cases, in particular with regard to the authors' interesting assertion that Thomas Jefferson meant only males when he wrote in his Declaration that "all men are created equal.")
I must mention that the authors occasionally lapse into what I can only term idiocy. For example, they apparently believe that the use of "man" as a verb (e.g.Read more ›
If anyone was thinking of spending his money buying this book, he should reconsider.