The other day I caught myself doing it. In retrospect I could hardly believe myself. Thanks to the politically correct programming that pervades our whole environment, the grammatical glitches just inadevertently slipped out as smoothly as if I had been speaking the Queen's English on BBC. I said:
"Any student who would like suggestions on how to improve their research paper may submit a rough draft of their paper for review anytime up to the last week before the due date."Wow! That came out so smoothly that I bet there are some of you who didn't even catch the grammatical errors in it. What's worse, I'm aware that there are English departments where students are now commonly encouraged to make this sacrifice of good grammar ("ANY student who . . . THEIR research paper . . .") on the altar of inclusive language (avoiding the tacitly forbidden "HIS research paper . . .")!
Of course there is much more that is just as bad, if not worse-- the awkward "he-or-she's" and "his-or-hers"-- leading one wag to offer the Menken-esque suggestion that every time we're tempted to employ such God-forsaken convolutions, we form a contraction from "he-or-she-or-it" to form the term-- you got it: H'OR'SH'IT !!!
In any case, we now have a breath of fresh air from--of all places--California. AT LAST, a Californian has come out and said it. He (yes he) has spoken the dreaded words that none hitherto dared dream of saying: "I try never to use inclusive language." So breath-takingly simple. Yet how like a bucket of cold water over the head after a bad hangover. Wake up Neo . . . It's almost noon. You're not trapped in the Matrix. The sun is out and the illusions are melting. Here, at last, the words of our intrepid Californian, Karl Keating:
I try never to use inclusive language. (It really should be called "feminist language," since standard English already is inclusive when it uses "he" or "man" in the generic sense.)Thanks Karl!
Why should I? To please those to whom such usage is important? I don't see how pandering to them is doing them any favor.
Granted, when I use proper English, someone may notice and "take offense." I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I am even more solicitous of other people's minds. Maybe, when I speak English As She Is Writ, a listener will start to think, "Uh, like, could my diction be wrong?"
As I see it, the problem isn't with those who use the generic "he" or "man." The problem is with those who, because of their ignorance of their own language, take offense where not only is no offense intended but where no offense is present.
Should we modify our language to mollify such people? I don't think so, since there always will be people who can't comprehend elements of their native tongue. The answer isn't to dumb down the language but to "smart up" the people. If for some reason that can't be done, the best thing is benign neglect.