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Be Inclusive or ELSE!

March 9, 2011

Today while at work I came across a pamphlet entitled…well, I won’t print the title here, but it’s a pamphlet that gives guidelines on how to use “inclusive language” and it’s written by one of the professors at my place of employment. And of course I love all things political correctness (ha) so I had to read it.

And I found some very helpful tidbits! If you want to improve your inclusive language vocabulary, and add a new challenge to your daily routine of conversing with others, then you need to try some of these.  The book recommends that inclusive language should be used at all times.It also says that at first this task might be a bit daunting, but with a little guidance (that’s where I come in) you will discover that it’s quite easy.
So I am here to provide a little guidance for you.

But first, an example from the book:

The singular (aka BAD) phrase: “The average student is nervous when he begins a new class.”

The plural (aka GOOD) way of conveying that same idea: “Average students are nervous when they begin a new class.”

Time out here. Average students? Are you saying they aren’t excellent students? Just average? That really sounds inclusive. Maybe the excellent students are nervous too.

Oh, that wasn’t what you meant? You mean average students plural as opposed to the average student? Really? I wasn’t an English major, but that doesn’t even sound correct. Or at the very least it just sounds plain awkward.

Okay, but on to the part where I help you with your inclusive language improvements. The book also gives a list of a few bad exclusive words that should not be used. A few on the list are manhole cover, penmanship, and freshman. Why? Because they contain the word “man.” That makes sense. I feel soooooo excluded when I hear people talk about manhole covers and penmanship. I want to cry “but what about women? What about our contributions to society? We are valuable people too!” Sad, sad, sad. I hope someday women are recognized as valuable human woman (this is getting hard) beings too. And for future reference, it’s peoplehole cover and penpeopleship ok? Make sense? That’s soooo much easier anyways.

As the book says, it might take a while for inclusive language to feel natural, and it might seem a bit difficult or cumbersome. But after a while, you will be a pro! After all, it’s EASY! (Hint: any time you want to say a word that  has “man” in it, just replace it with “people.” How hard and cumbersome can THAT be?)

Here’s a small list to get you started:

1. Mango – Peoplego

2. Romantic – Ropeopletic

3. Manager – Peopleager

4. Human – Hupeople

5. Mandate – Peopledate (it’s true, they do!)

6. Mania – Peoplelia

Once you master this list you can move on to the harder ones like:

7. Management – Peopleagement

8. Airmanship – Airpeopleship

9. Boogeyman – Boogeypeople (this is one of my faves)

10.  Manicure – Peopleicure

But this changes all the meanings, you may say. True, it does. But that’s part of being inclusive and we must all do our part. Conveying what you really mean, and getting your point across is NOT the main idea here. Being INCLUSIVE is. Stop. Being. So. SELFISH!

And now that I have gotten you started, it’s time for you to contribute to society too. Let me know if you think of any words we need to fix update.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 2:45 pm

    Manner – Peoplener
    Commandment – Compeopledment
    Commander – Compeopleder
    Mandolin – Peopledolin
    Mansion – Peoplesion

  2. March 10, 2011 7:48 am

    Woman-Wopeople
    Amanda – Apeopleda
    Showmanship – Showpeopleship

    Hahaha, this was really funny. Some PEOPLE can be so ridiculous.

    Aleassa

  3. March 10, 2011 1:43 pm

    Ummm…You may laugh but
    Menstruel cycle-peoplestruel cycle 🙂

    It just made me laugh… I don’t think I am going to use inclusive language 🙂

  4. jenmarie33 permalink*
    March 11, 2011 9:40 pm

    @ Rebekah and Aleassa, good job! See, it’s EASY! 😉 lol

    And aiyiyi Renae you just desecrated my E-rated blog (E for everyone lol, I’m INCLUSIVE here). 😉 But I guess that is a bit ironic…A lot of our words contain the word “man” in them. But um…not too many contain the word “woman.” Hmmm….Maybe we SHOULD be doing something about this! =)

  5. Michael Dunlop permalink
    March 12, 2011 7:42 am

    haha, Im pretty sure the sentence using “they” is actually improper grammar.

    • jenmarie33 permalink*
      March 12, 2011 11:06 am

      Yeah see that’s what I was thinking. But since I’m not the greatest at English grammar, I wasn’t sure. I guess I should ask Aunt Cheryl =)

      • Michael Dunlop permalink
        March 12, 2011 11:17 am

        lol yeah. …at least that’s what they taught in PCC English classes.

  6. Cheryl D. permalink
    March 12, 2011 11:47 am

    I don’t know that it’s improper grammar, but it is awkward. What does “average” mean in that sentence? I’d edit it to say “Most students are nervous when they begin a new class.” (You can have more than one students in a class, so I think the singular/plural is OK there.) But I dislike the tendency to make everything plural to avoid saying “he,” and yes, “he or she” is awkward and unnecessary. I’d have left the original, singular sentence alone.

    BTW, just in the last five years or so, a lot of Christian publishers have decided to go ahead and pretend that “they” can be a singular word. For example: “A student [singular] may find that they don’t like all their teachers, but when they go back to their dorm room [singular], having a good roommate makes college more fun.” That’s an off-the-cuff example, but I’m seeing a lot of this in the books I edit, and publishing style manuals are starting to say it’s OK. Yuck. I can’t edit it to the singular “he” (since neither the author nor the publisher wants that), so I usually go ahead and rewrite it to a more consistent “they”: “Students may find that they don’t like all their teachers, but having good roommates makes college more fun.”

    The one that really bugs me? “Our self.” The writer knows that “ourself” or “themself” isn’t a word, so he (sorry!) breaks it into two words, and uses the plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun. It’s subtle, but it doesn’t work.

    • jenmarie33 permalink*
      March 12, 2011 12:04 pm

      Oh wow that’s interesting, thanks for the publisher/editor perspective! =)

  7. March 12, 2011 8:50 pm

    Wow … Renae went there.

    That pamphlet seems like a joke. If it’s free, can you grab a copy for me?

    • jenmarie33 permalink*
      March 12, 2011 9:24 pm

      Yeah it’s a bit crazy. I was a bit facetious when writing this (ie it doesn’t say to replace every word that has ‘man’ in it with ‘people.’ ) But…it does say to replace words like manhole cover with something like sewage cover (I forget the exact replacement) and penmanship with writing, and freshman with ‘frosh’ or first year student (lol).
      It wasn’t free but I’ll see if I can find a copy of it somewhere.

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