Friday, December 09, 2005

Legibility, A Brief Thought Regarding

On a lot of web sites, the printable version link should be relabeled legible version.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Linguistic Contortions

I thought I had seen everything when it came to ways of resolving the problem of gender-specific pronouns in English. But on the way back from Wisconsin yesterday, I read a copy of David Brin's Sundiver (otherwise an interesting story) and was proved wrong.

Usually the problems you run into with English revolve around the pronoun he: its use in a gender-ambiguous context is disputed and there are various ways of avoiding it. The word man has similar problems, although it's a lot easier to find acceptable gender-neutral replacements. But in this story, Brin actually used man in situations where the person indicated was known to be female! This leads to such eye-popping lines as:
He took her arm and introduced her to Fagin and Jacob.

Sophonts, this is Helene deSilva, Confederacy Commandant here on Mercury, and my right-hand man. ...
And if that doesn't strike you as odd, here's my personal favorite:
Occasionally a man, male or female, would lean forward and peer at some detail on a screen, ...
Ow! I had to read that sentence three times before I was sure I hadn't mistaken the words.