[NTG-context] Grammar

Marcin Borkowski mbork at atos.wmid.amu.edu.pl
Wed Jul 28 15:12:22 CEST 2010

Dnia Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 09:29:49AM +0000, John Haltiwanger napisał(a):
> On Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 10:57 PM, Marcin Borkowski
> <mbork at atos.wmid.amu.edu.pl> wrote:
> > Dnia Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 01:06:27PM +0000, John Haltiwanger napisa&#322;(a):
> >> On Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 8:47 AM, Marcin Borkowski
> >> <mbork at atos.wmid.amu.edu.pl> wrote:
> >> > Hi,
> >> >
> >> > what an interesting discussion!
> >> >
> >> > My personal point of view is that the so-called "political correctness"
> >> > is something I actively fight against, by means of NOT using "they" or
> >> > "Afroamericans" or other such strange inventions.  These new words
> >> > somehow remind me of Orwell's 1984...
> >>
> >> So what do you write instead? Negro?
> >
> > And what's wrong with "Negro"?  AFAIK, it means "black", so it just
> > describes the reality.  This is what a word should do, right?  And btw,
> > the term "Afroamerican" doesn't really make much sense to me: what would
> > you call a Negro, born in France, and living in Germany, when you wanted
> > to distinguish him from a white man?  (Please note that by "man", I mean
> > "a human being of any sex";).)
> >
> > To be more serious: I accept that there might be a problem caused by the
> > fact that I am not a native speaker of English.  I suspect that somehow
> > the neutral term "Negro" started being used in a derogatory fashion, and
> > that it might be unpleasant to black people to be called Negroes.  And
> > that's why I usually say just "black people".
> So what is your issue here then? You are already working by the rules
> I proposed:
> using the words that the group wishes to be called by (or at least not
> using the words which they don't).

I guess the difference lies at least in one point:  "black man" is
something that *means* a black man.  "Afroamerican" means nothing or
something different.  I prefer to use words in *their* meanings.

And (though I am not sure about it at all) I think it might be the case
that the introduction of "black people" instead of "Negroes" might have
been more spontaneous, and "Afroamericans" seems to be supported by some
governmental/lobbyist groups.

> BTW, 'Negro' is definitely not a term to be used for referring to
> black Americans. IIRC, it is a positive term in Brazil. The point is
> to be aware of these things and to respect people's wishes regarding
> them, rather than blithely pretending that any name you use should
> automatically be fine simply because, well, YOU don't see the problem
> with using the term Negro (for instance).

The point is, is it the wishes of the people involved, or the wishes of
some groups who *claim* to represent them?

> >> 'Political correctness' can be onerous, and often contradictory to my
> >> anti-authoritarian nature, but in the end it is not "the Man" who
> >> issues requests for language changes so much as the marginalized
> >> groups that take issue with existing phrasing. Afroamericans, for
> >> instance, was deprecated sometime around that year 1984.. It all boils
> >> down to whether you care about what the people concerned are saying,
> >> which is why I note the author's position when I encounter it. (Rather
> >> than throwing their paper away, ala Khaled).
> >
> > Well, "onerous" might not be the best word.  "Scary" might be better.
> >
> > You see, I am quite convinced that trying to manipulate language "by
> > hand" is a very bad idea.  Maybe this is partly because I live in a
> > former Communist country (Poland); we have seen such things in the past.
> > Another reason maybe that it seems to me that one of the first groups to
> > talk about "political correctness" (maybe even coining the phrase, I
> > don't know) were feminists, who did so much more harm to women in
> > general than we usually imagine.
> I understand your sensitivity vis a vis Regime Imposed language
> tuning. You have got to be kidding me with that anti-feminist talk,
> though. I'm not going to go there with you, especially after your
> explanation below.

Well, you don't have to.  Maybe it would be a good idea to mention that
I know some women who have the same opinion as me on feminism.

> >> This is always a contentious issue when software/coder types are
> >> involved, one of the serious reasons why female participation in IT
> >> (in general) and FLoSS (in particular) are so low: many men in these
> >> circles will not, or can not, give room to critical complaints. The
> >> problem always originates in the person complaining---they need to be
> >> less serious, no one around here cares so stfu, etc. This is a serious
> >> issue, and this is probably one of the least contentious starting
> >> points for encountering it. That theory would be thrown away because
> >> it attempts to consciously address real gender inequalities is a
> >> depressing thought.
> >
> > I am not sure that I understood your point, but I am quite convinced
> > that the low percentage of women in mathematics or IT is caused
> > primarily by the simple fact that an average female brain is not well
> > fit for this particular purpose.  (Of course, we all know notable
> > exceptions.  Also note that "better/worse fit for one particular
> > purpose" is completely unrelated to "better/worse in general".)
> I'd laugh at this if it wasn't the same shit that's been going around
> for years in the math/IT circles. Socialization is the cause behind
> this, not natural differences in brain structure. If the society has
> decided to accept and repeat this "fact" over and over, and men will
> generally act as if it is true (pushing out females who make the
> attempt), then it will come to "appear" as true. But that doesn't make
> it any less BS.
> Put out some science for that one, dude.

As I wrote a minute ago - I can't, and neither can you, I guess.


Marcin Borkowski (http://mbork.pl)

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