We live in a fast changing world, one that doesn’t seem to allow us to stop for a moment and breathe. There’s almost no time for that. I can vouch for it, because I was born and raised in a former communist country and in 1989 only à very few in our country had a PC1 or 2. Then Revolution came and we opened the gates to the new world. And we changed. A lot. And so did our language to.
By the time my children grew up, the official Dictionary of Romanian Language was full of novelties, may of them coming from English language via computers. Of course, not all the additions are making everybody happy. There seem to be some sort of carelessness nowadays in using language. A kind of laziness in creating nice, well built sentences. We read less, we write less but we talk a lot. Language changes accordingly to the necessities of communication. I am not desperate about it. I know that despite the growing tendency for practical attitude, the need for artful beauty never dies. It’s in our fabric as species.
One of the domains where groundbreaking changes have started is that of gender diversity. Though we are only at the beginning of unraveling the secrets of our own gender identity as species, it’s certain that this is a normal and natural feature, just like the color of the eyes or the shape of the ear. It comes with the territory and it’s there with us right from our birth. Then when it comes to define ourselves, a right each of one needs and deserves, current language seem to lack the necessary pieces. So something has to be done, words needs to be created, to be adapted to give everyone a chance to express its own uniqueness. Of course, as usual not everyone is happy with the outcome. It’s almost funny to see people who can express themselves without difficulties, arguing over the right of those for whom there’s no such existing tool of expression and communication.
I am not amused. I am sad. Language is for all of us and ignorance and prejudice are not qualities. This is why I have decided to write this post.
Here is the link to the article in the title : https://niume.com/post/333386/Unpopular Opinion:They Pronouns. It belongs to a lovely young writer who expressed, with genuine sincerity and good will, her own mixed feelings about these changes.
Here is my answer to her : “… Language is a living tool that belongs to all of us and it serves each and everyone for the necessary communication with others. As a living tool, it is shaped by the users, it is enriched by creators of language or by the necessities of diversifying activities. You can imagine Shakespeare’s shock if he would suddenly wake up to our times. Maybe he would think that we have ruined the language he loved and mastered. So, though the plural you “hate” might sound odd for now, it is a first try to adapt the existing tools to a reality that is finally getting its deserved, rightful spotlight. I am Romanian and our language, like all the Latin ones, is gendered so it’s even more difficult to adapt our language to the necessity of gender diversity. But I am working on it, along with others who know that everyone deserves a proper pronoun. And while you are annoyed by the “odd plural that is a singular”, languages like my native one have their own problems adapting words coming from….English, for instance. But we do it because this is the way language works: bridging people…”
Well, the beautiful, rich and versatile English language offers alternatives for this problem. I first encountered such a solution in reading the English translation of a wonderful, mind opening book : “The Cage of Zeus” by Sayuri Ueda. It was reading the book that I had the chance to acomodate my mind with the Spivak gender neutral pronouns. It was….strange at first, then while becoming captured by the world of the novel, I became familiar with this new way of expression. I have seen both the practical and the beautiful side of gender neutral pronouns.
You can read more here on Spivak gender neutral pronouns: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OuKRxkhWQcXnQmehj7Yd9L34AEkjXY8f6DRmvmClbWQ/edit
So, all I can say is that we all should work on easing the way to a proper, clear and true communication. We should work on building bridges between each other. Give language the chance to become such a bridge. Don’t hate! Create!