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Paul Mankowski, S.J., is a lector in Biblical Hebrew at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He recently published Akkadian Loanwords in Biblical Hebrew (Harvard Semitic Studies #47). This essay is reprinted with permission from The Thomist, No. 62, July 3, 1998.

Notes

  1. See, multa inter alia, Gail Ramshaw, God beyond Gender: Feminist Christian God-Language (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995); Alvin F. Kimel, ed., Speaking the Christian God (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1992); Helen Hull Hitchcock, ed., The Politics of Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1992), with bibliography on pp. 343-354; Ronald D. Witherup, A Liturgist's Guide to Inclusive Language (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996), with bibliography on pp. 87-95; Thomas H. Groome, Language for a "Catholic" Church, 2nd ed. (Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, 1995).

  2. The essay that, arguably, most clearly and effectively linked the cause of inclusive language to the women's liberation movement appeared as the first article in the inaugural issue of the influential feminist magazine Ms.: Kate Miller and Casey Swift, "De-Sexing the English Language," Ms. 1 (Spring 1972): 7.

  3. See Witherup, Liturgist's Guide, 21-25, for a concise exposition of what I take to be the strongest inclusivist argument and the focus of this essay. I regard this case to be strongest because it acknowledges the recognized linguistic fact of (unmanipulated) language change. To the extent that my refutation is convincing it applies a fortiori to weaker explanations, such as those which propound a patriarchal conspiracy as the source of masculinist traditional language (e.g., Sandra M. Schneiders, Women and the Word [New York: Paulist, 1986], 70).

  4. For a discussion of Mussolini's efforts to enforce the general use of voi as "più italiano," see Maurizio Dardano and Pietro Trifone, La lingua italiana (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1985), 156.

  5. Memorandum to Latin-Rite bishops from the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (U.S.A.), 17 September 1993, attachment 3.

  6. See Hans Henrich Hock, Principles of Historical Linguistics 2nd ed. (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 403.

  7. A position statement adopted by the Association of American University Presses in November 1992 contains this resolution: "Books that are on the cutting edge of scholarship should also be at the forefront in recognizing how language encodes prejudice. They should be agents for change and the redress of past mistakes." This position is cited in Guidelines for Bias-Free Writing, by Marilyn Schwartz and the Task Force on Bias-Free Language of the Association of American University Presses (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University, 1995), 18.

  8. Thomas H. Stahel, "Of Many Things," America, 171, no. 1 (2 July 1994): 2.

  9. See Peter H. Matthews, Generative Grammar and Linguistic Competence (London: Allen & Unwin, 1979), 23-25.

  10. The expression "vertical inclusive language" is perniciously inexact, being devoid of linguistic intelligibility. In practice it refers to the replacement of masculine terms for God with feminine or gender-neutral terms. The motive to effect such replacement is incomprehensible except in terms of a cluster of specific politico-theological convictions — there is no linguistically valid rationale, for example, for replacing the titles of the goddess Athena with masculine or neutral ones. Such replacement has no place at all in the project of translation as conventionally understood.

  11. A notorious and instructive case concerns a widely used translation of selections from the work of the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Where Balthasar wrote that Christ is a man (Mensch), the English translators gave "human person." Yet Christ is not a human person but a divine person. Thus the translators, in their overweening concern for inclusive language, present us with a heterodox Balthasar.

  12. The patristic interpretative tradition is expounded in a tour de force by Chrysogonus Waddell, "A Christological Interpretation of Psalm 1?" Communio 22 (Fall 1995): 502-521.

  13. I owe this observation to Fr. John Rock, S.J. (personal communication).

1 posted on 03/30/2007 7:25:59 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Good source material for a discussion.


2 posted on 03/30/2007 7:27:25 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
This is bookmarked.

A splendid exposition of all the flaws and handicaps imposed by "inclusive" language.

Resentment versus confusion is a particularly good point. Language doesn't change because a political faction gets torqued about something.

3 posted on 03/30/2007 8:33:17 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: NYer

If they are intending to complain about the term 'humanity' they ought to indicate the origin of the word.


5 posted on 03/30/2007 9:25:24 AM PDT by RightWhale (3 May '07 3:14 PM)
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