Languages belong to those who use them. Dictionaries standardize language based on dominant usage. If users want to be clearly understood, they will follow these standards quite closely.
But the transgender craze sweeping through politically correct circles, which include many news outlets, is confusing and mutilating the English language here and there, especially when it comes to pronouns.
People who don’t want to be recognized by their biological genders, some of whom claim there are many other genders, are clamoring for new pronouns and have invented more than 70. But it’s hard to imagine that many people will take the time to learn them all, let alone humble yourself trying to use them when hardly anyone else will understand them either, and their use will imply that the user believes there are actually more than two biological genera.
Newly coined pronouns hinder rather than facilitate understanding. This may be why some gender deniers or concealers want to remove the individual gender-specific pronouns “he” and “she” and be quoted with the plural pronoun “they”, English devoid of a neuter singular pronoun. But since “they” means plural, its use with respect to an individual is silly and can only lead to confusion.
In a free country, people are free to invent words and euphemize to advance their politics. Already in politically correct circles, “illegal immigrants” have become “sans-papiers”, as if they had inadvertently left their passports and visas at home before heading for the border. People who undergo sex reassignment surgery or therapy are said to receive “gender affirming care,” as if they were genderless at birth. Homosexuals are now “men who have sex with men”.
Perhaps heterosexuals will become “people who have sex with people of a different sex”.
But in a free country, people are also free to reject the euphemization of perfectly good words and phrases and to reject the denial of biology.
Also, it’s simple to avoid mutilating the tongue when dealing with people who don’t want their gender to be inferred by pronouns. That is: just avoid pronouns where people don’t want “he” or “she” and, instead, use nouns repeatedly, making them possessive if necessary. It will look awkward but preserve clarity without offending anyone, even though people are more and more want to to be offended, since it bestows power over those who are easily intimidated.
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Lawyer jokes are perhaps the funniest, most cynical, and most accurate on the human condition, and the material for another gathers in the courts of Connecticut.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim is trying again to reclaim his license to practice law, which he lost in 2003 after he was convicted of 16 federal corruption crimes committed during his first term as mayor, for which he served seven years in prison before persuading Bridgeport voters to bring him back to the crime scene.
Ganim’s first request to get his lawyer’s license back was approved by a panel of court lawyers in 2012, but denied by a three-judge tribunal, which disagreed because it felt Ganim failed to show enough remorse.
In a hearing last week before another panel of court lawyers, Ganim sounded more contrite, if not necessarily sincere. It is therefore likely that his next panel of judges will reinstate him, as other criminal lawyers have been reinstated in recent decades.
But the previous practice of the Connecticut courts was better. It used to be that a felony conviction was enough to disbar a lawyer for life, to maintain the honor of the courts and the honor of the office that every lawyer holds, Commissioner of the Superior Court.
After all, lawyers who commit crimes, especially corruption crimes, know better, having taken the lawyer’s oath to “do nothing dishonest”.
The honor of the courts of Connecticut and of those who would practice law there is no longer so rigorously defended. As a result, corruption is increasingly suspected about courts and lawyers. So maybe it will be better if Ganim returns as Commissioner of the Superior Court and confirms the suspicions, the public’s remaining illusions are shattered, the law and legal affairs are covered with more shame, and some of those who continue in business may be more motivated to try to clean it up.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer. His opinions are not necessarily those of the newspaper.