Skip to comments.Kate Swift, Writer Who Rooted Out Sexism in Language, Dies at 87
Posted on 05/10/2011 8:03:30 AM PDT by reaganaut1
Kate Swift, a writer and editor who in two groundbreaking books Words and Women and The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing brought attention to the sexual discrimination embedded in ordinary English usage, died on Saturday in Middletown, Conn. She was 87.
The cause was stomach cancer, her grandniece Corin R. Swift said.
Ms. Swift turned her attention to the issue of sexist language when she and Casey Miller, her companion, formed a professional editing partnership in 1970 and were asked to copy-edit a sex education manual for junior high school students.
The stated goal of the manual was to encourage mutual respect and equality between boys and girls, but Ms. Swift and Ms. Miller, who died in 1997, concluded that the authors intent was being undermined by the English language.
"We suddenly realized what was keeping his message his good message from getting across, and it hit us like a bombshell, Ms. Swift said in a 1994 interview for the National Council of Teachers of English. It was the pronouns! They were overwhelmingly masculine gendered.
The partners turned in a manuscript with suggestions that sex-identifying singular pronouns be made plural, or that pronouns be avoided altogether, and that word order be changed so girls preceded boys as often as the reverse.
The publisher accepted some suggestions and not others, as always happens, Ms. Swift said. But we had been revolutionized."
Now, they wrote in the preface to their first book, Words and Women, everything we read, heard on the radio and television, or worked on professionally confirmed our new awareness that the way English is used to make the simplest points can either acknowledge womens full humanity or relegate the female half of the species to secondary status.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
The next time I watch Deadliest Catch and see a crab fisherwoman will be the first.
Just another example of the insanity that will consume our society word by word.
Right now, in the same state, they’re about to allow transgender men into womens public bathrooms. Kate would be so proud!
English is actually one of the less “sexist” languages.
Most Indo-European (and many other) languages have “gender” as a much more integral part of the language. Most nouns and sometimes verbs are either masculine or feminine, or sometimes neuter.
How do feminists apply this idiotic concept to German or Spanish?
May it rest in peace.
She would have been horrified if she ever visited a plumbing supply house, with all those male and female fittings.
Well played, well played.
The word “firefighter” was not used years ago. The word was “firemen”. It was changed because of this very idea the article talks about.
And some liberals use the word “humankind” because they do indeed have a problem with “mankind”. You’re joking about it here, but some liberals actually think that way.
Hey Kate thank you for watering down our language and helping to dumb down our progeny.
This “feminist” movement is just another aspect of Cultural Marxism, commonly called “political correctness”.
The stupidity and awkwardness involved in changing the language was undertaken with an agenda, to undermine Western Cultural traditional values.
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
And remember the old “Star Trek”? Captain Kirk’s voiceover stated that the mission was “to boldly go where no man has gone before”. By the time of the next generation Star Trek in the 80s and 90s, Captain Picard’s voiceover stated “where no one has gone before”. It was changed because of the concept involved here.
We can talk about politically correct language, but it’s everywhere. We can think of many othe examples besides this one.
I know that in the business world and the medical fields, great pains are taken not to use the pronoun “she” when referring to nurses or secretary/office assistants. Reason being, the liberal idea that it’s sexist to assume that a person in such a job is a woman. The fact that 90%+ are women doesn’t matter, we aren’t supposed to use language that assumes this.
And a long time wasted on PC foolishness.
Jeez, I hope she did something else worthwhile, because massacring one of the loveliest languages the world has ever known was not worth celebrating.
“IT” died and I’m supposed to care.
Don’t think so.
Stomach cancer... hmmm. My father always said that hatred and a unforgiving spirit will manifest itself as cancer in one form or another. Maybe he was on to something.
What nonsense. This is just an excuse for laziness, whining, and failure. As a woman who has been a lawyer for nearly 40 years, and has had her own lawfirm for 20 years, I have always used "he" and "his" as neutral pronouns, and "man" and "mankind" as generic nouns, and it has never held me back from anything. I detest the modern usage of coupling a single noun (eg, child) with a plural pronoun (their). It makes the speaker/writer appear illiterate.
I have never heard from her, but I am sure she was quite the authoress.