Our language police have their hands full.
Lately, they have pushed the Berkeley (California) City Council to scrub supposedly sexist words like manpower and manholes — in favor of human-effort and maintenance holes. (Please imagine a worker saying “Hey Sam, pry open that maintenance hole, would ya?”)
Berkeley also wants its employees to use they and them — instead of she, her, he, and him. No more brothers and sisters. Only siblings. No more masters of anything. In the case of ships’ masters, there now can only be skippers or pilots. I have no idea whether they have a police chief. After all, chiefs were men when they led tribes.
The language cops have persuaded the University of California, Berkeley to ditch words like fraternity and sorority — in favor of “collegiate Greek system residences.” That will surely become a popular term.
Meanwhile, Colorado State University’s language guide suggests that students abandon words like male, female, ladies, gentlemen, Mr., Mrs,, Ms., and freshman.
The language police want to limit your use of the words America and Americans. You are not supposed to say you are an American. Because this implies that Canadians and Mexicans and Brazilians are not part of America. As in North and South America.
In a recent column, Brent Bozell and Tim Graham brought us up-to-date on such demands from the language police. Included in the list of no-no words are cakewalk, eenie-meenie, peanut gallery, and thug. Somehow, all of these offend African-Americans.
Terms like “Long time no see” and “No-can-do” apparently offend Asian-Americans — because many of them whose English is limited use such phrases.
The language cops assure us that hip-hip-hooray is a Holocaust reference. And that when you say you are starving for pizza — or for anything — you offend people who are food-insecure. I think food-insecure means starving. But don’t quote me on that. I don’t wish to land in language prison.
You are not supposed to say you are addicted to chocolate or football — because that will offend people addicted to booze or drugs. You can also no longer be buck-naked.
You are not supposed to say someone is holding down the fort. Because this may offend nearby Indians. Bozell and Graham point out that you should not say Indians. You should say Native Americans. They acknowledge that this will offend Brazilians and Mexicans.
The language police truly face mountainous tasks.
Consider the thousands of words that imply sexism: cowed, bullied, half-cocked, king-sized, queen-sized, cockpit, male plugs, and female plugs, plainclothesman, hen-pecked, cold-cocked, and witch hunt among them.
Then we have our names. What will be the fate of Peterson, Hoffman, Roman, Herman, Amanda, Coleman, Samantha, Solomon, and Truman? And Thompson? The worst of the lot is Manson.
If they intend to be even-handed, the language police will need to hunt down 3,300 words that begin or end with man. And the 6,500 words that contain man.
Their efforts could hardly be called a manhunt. And they will not be allowed to say they are managing their task.
Who pays for this attack on your language? You do. Your taxes fund city councils that embark on such stuff. Your taxes fund the professors and college administrators who fill their time with it.
We must be pretty wealthy to afford all this nonsense.
From Tom…as in Morgan.
Tom Morgan writes about political, financial, and other subjects from his home in upstate New York. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, read more of his writing at tomasinmorgan.com, or find him on Facebook.