The equalist legislators in Washington state have decided that rewriting Washington state code and documents to erase the distinction between men and women has “important significance,” and is worth effort and money. Other public servants, notably a University of washington communications professor named Crispin Thurlow, agree. Whether their enthusiasm for the project has anything to do with the potential jobs for “experts” and bureaucrats is not addressed in a Seattle Times article on the drive to neuter English.
Over the past six years, state officials have engaged in the onerous task of changing the language used in the state’s copious laws, including thousands of words and phrases, many written more than a century ago when the idea of women working on police forces or on fishing boats wasn’t a consideration.
That process is to draw to a close this year. So while the state already has welcomed “firefighters,” “clergy” and “police officers” into its lexicon, “ombuds” (in place of ombudsman) and “security guards” (previously “watchmen,”) appear to be next, along with “dairy farmers,” “first-year students” and “handwriting.”
Usually, language has a way of taking care of itself. But according to Prof. Thurlow, that isn’t good enough:
Crispin Thurlow, a sociolinguist and associate professor of language and communication at the University of Washington, Bothell, said the project was admirable.
He said as language evolves, such efforts are more than symbolic.
“Changing words can change what we think about the world around us,” he said. “These tiny moments accrue and become big movements.”
Although he’s a relative peon, Thurlow is a representative of what I referred to the other day as the “managerial elite.” This man believes it is his mandate to shape society so as to produce a result consistent with Equalism. As a public employee, he also intends to be paid by the rest of us to do so
Perhaps at a future time, he can assume a high position in a Washington state bureaucracy called the “Ministry of Truth” or something along those lines.
Words such as “manhole” and “manlock,” have also come under scrutiny, but suitable replacements have proved difficult to find. However, this gives me an idea:
Instead of trying to neuter every word, why don’t we simply shoot for equal representation? We could just switch the gender of every other male-gendered word.
For example, instead of freshman, we could have “freshwoman,” and instead of manhole, “womanhole.” Other logical changes could include “womenstruation” from menstruation, and perhaps “womanatee” for the slow, portly sea creature. This could provide just as much work for Thurlow and his associates, and might turn out less confusing in the long run.