Profoundly Unserious

I have perhaps told the story here before of the Fullbright professor who got the unenviable task of teaching my American lit class in the third year of college.  My degree being languages, and the curriculum being more rigid than at any American college, (i.e. we all took the same classes and I rubbed elbows only with people with the same (or similar) major and minor), we were all twenty-something year old women, about 25 of us.

Other than a brief issue when we could not, for love or money, decipher his pronouncing of “Poem”  (It sounded like poym) and he thought we had never heard of poetry and was baffled, the class proceeded with no issues.  Most of us had taken American Lit at high school level, so this was territory, just a little deeper and taught by a real American (TM).

Until in the middle of a lecture he said something like “When any writer sets out to do x, he–”  And stopped, growing pale, and started apologizing profusely.

Apparently looking on that sea of female faces, he thought he was about to be crucified.  When we got it through his head that we were not offended, he said “Oh, wow.  American women would be.  I’d have to say he or she.” We, students of linguistics, pointed out that “he” is the appropriate pronoun for indeterminate gender in ANY INDO EUROPEAN LANGUAGE.

His answer was something like, “yeah, but–”

Yesterday I was reading a book for an upcoming project, called Lewis and Clark and the Indians.  It is a research book, written in the sixties, which tries to bring the native tribes they encountered more to the forefront.  I was/am very interested, because in this alternate history I need greater native magic/native personalities than in our world.

This morning I woke up starting at the cover and thinking “you could not get that published as a new book now.  Because the word ‘indians’ would be enough to set off choirs of howling on how biggoted you were.

I myself prefer Amerindian, the word used in our anthropology class in college.

Yes, I do understand the point that the inhabitants of the Americas were not “indians” and that the name was a mistake Columbus made due half to wishful thinking.  But look here, you think they are the only people in the world thus misnamed?  It seems like being named something else by a tribe that has a bigger megaphone is the destiny of humans.  In Portugal Germans are called “Alemoes” which is after the Alemani, who were only one tribe of the Germans.  Oh, and in English (which straddles the world) they’re Germans, when for their own name they prefer Deutsch.  To add insult to injury, their little displaced religious tribe here gets called “Dutch” because no one understood Deutsch was German.  Take Portugal, (please) it takes its entire name from Portus Calem, warm harbor, i.e. the harbor off the city of Porto.  Such name covers Gallicians in the North, Lusitans in the South and heaven knows what in between.  It’s not the “right and fair name.”  It’s just a name, used by the culture that became dominant in that region.

There is in fact not a single name of a race or nationality that doesn’t suffer from this.  And also, while “Indians” was an ethnographically ignorant name, there was NO name for all the tribes in the continent.  They were Iroquois and Cheyenne, Aztecs and Pawnee.  There was no name, because they didn’t consider themselves a single people.

And the name “Native American” is as ethnographically ignorant as “Indians.”As far as we can determine, waves of colonists have displaced each other on this continent since there have been humans in the world, and while some Native tribes might have blood from the original hominins (if any) evolved on this continent, it would be a vanishing small amount, and calling yourself “Native” because of that is sort of the equivalent of calling yourself “Neanderthal” because you have 2% of genes of that vanished species (or in this group 3 to 6%.  Heaven knows why.)

Yes, sure, the legends of these people claim they were created here.  Why this is given more credence than other people’s claims of being descended from a clay man and a clay woman is beyond me, except the inherent racism of treating anyone with the ability to tan as a child whose naive opinions cannot be disputed because it would hurt his/her feelings.

This post will doubtless cause the usual flurry of accusations of racism, because I dare prefer an outmoded word and mock the “politically correct” chosen word.

Which brings us to the profound unseriousness of “politically correct” discourse.

Our professor’s fear he would be called sexist because he used “he” to signify of indeterminate gender is a point in fact.  While teaching in Portugal, he was always a gentleman (I suppose that’s sexist, because lady is, or something.  Pfui) to all the women he taught.  Unlike to some of the local teachers, no rumors of groping or patronizing attached to him. He treated us as adults and scholars, which we in fact were, but which we often were not treated as.

But that one word was supposed to turn him into a raging racist.  Habits of mind, you say? Language erasing the existence of women, you way?  Take a powder.  If you grow up thinking of “he” unless applied in the particular as a genderless word, you don’t think it erases women, anymore than the now preferred (and grammatically grating “they” erases the individual.)  You might as well say that, as habits of mind go, “he” being used as gender indeterminate erases the idea of male.  It makes about as much sense.  Possibly more.

Again, I repeat, this is the default in all indo-European cultures (I don’t know other languages so I can’t say) and yet those cultures in present era and recent era for that matter accord much higher status to females than most other cultures around the world.  Which leads me to tell you that the presumption of evil from rolling “indeterminate gender” under “he” is a priori wrong.  In fact, you could say — if you were an ethnographer from another culture — that the indeterminate “he” diminishes the masculinity of Western men and allows the sub-par female autonomy to flourish.

But the discussion never happens, because there is no discussion, or dissecting of the actual language.  There is a lot of privileged college educated women who want to feel they’re doing something for all women without doing something serious, like lending aid to women escaping female circumcision, taking in girl babies abandoned throughout the world, or even lending aid at an abused women’s shelter.

Screaming at the use of “he” to mean “he/she” is easier, and gets you not only as much recognition, but the ability to shout down anyone you don’t want to hear no matter how important their points.

So it goes with race too.  As far as I can tell that book I’m reading is very sympathetic to the “Indians” making them more human and their tribal culture far more fleshed out than the accounts of the expedition (bound by the prejudices of its time) did. But it uses “Indian” and in the title, at that, so half the people who preen themselves in fighting the injustice of centuries would take off after it as biased and never read it, or absorb the knowledge contained in it.

Then there’s the myriad names for “Black person living in the US.”  Negro was the polite word when I was growing up, and “Black” must not be used because it was derogatory.  Then Negro became derogatory and we were supposed to use “African American” a detestable term that robs them forever of full American integration and identity.  These people might not have had ancestors in Africa for as long as my husband hasn’t had ancestors in Europe (mid-1600s) but they are called African-American as I am called Portuguese-American because I came here as an adult.  In other words, they’re treated forever as if they just disembarked and their nationality were something to be earned by each of them.  To add insult to injury, it is obvious in the “enlightened” minds of the left African-American means black, pure and simple.  Hence the fact that people like Peter Grant, born and raised in Africa, aren’t African Americans.  Hence the fact that these idiots on stilts roam the world calling Frenchmen (or Portuguese, or Italians) of darker skin “African Americans.”

My black friends call themselves black, and that’s fine with me.  I don’t see why that’s any different than “white” or inherently more offensive.  Neither is accurate, of course, but both are culturally rooted and there is no stigma attached to one or the other.

However we’ve reached the sad point in our culture that no matter how pure your intent, how intellectual your discourse, use the wrong word and you’ll get jumped and called names, just like my professor was afraid of being.

This is not only nonsense, which excludes by the way a majority of non-college educated and ESL people who come from cultures not similarly tainted by linguistic nonsense, but pernicious nonsense.

Using the “correct word” for the week has not fed a single mouth, helped a single woman, raised a single baby.  It has done nothing but supposedly change our thinking.  That it doesn’t do that, is proved by things like French African American applied to a person of dark skin who has never been to America.  The same old categories are there under the new name, and if they were bad before, they’re just as bad now.

All it does is give a bunch of — mostly female — over-educated twits the ability to congratulate themselves on their great concern and care for the downtrodden.  And also give them the ability to play “society ladies.”

That is their archetype, even to those who are male. They are the arbiters of fashion and good taste, prepared to shout down any parvenu who presumes to make himself heard in the councils of the well-heeled.

This blacklisting of words is a profoundly unserious trend of mind that destroys real thought and world wide debate.

It is, on the other hand, a highly effective way of keeping the discussion only to those who will kowtow and conform to the current fashion and never question the power of the grand poobahs.

This like all such systems, in its unseriousness and mendacity has the seeds of its own destruction.  It can’t adapt, it can’t reason, and it certainly can’t survive outside very affluent times.

The future demands serious people.  The Lords and Ladies of Vocabulary alteration need not apply.

444 responses to “Profoundly Unserious

  1. The only thing worse than “he or she” is “they” used to refer to a singular.
    It’s even more depressing when “they” is used in that fashion by a good SF writer who is very much not interested in PC writing, but has been beaten into this so hard that his fingers insist on the pernicious habit. And at times you see this even when the person referred to is, by necessity in the sentence in question, of a particular gender and therefore the pronoun for that gender clearly should be used.
    I will continue to do the linguistically correct thing of using “he” as the neutral pronoun. Or, occasionally, I might do what some computer science geeks do to poke fun at all this, which is to flip between “he” and “she” every couple of sentences.

    • I do it now. There is no point. The copyeditors force you to. Yes, it’s a fricking abomination.

      • If that’s the new standard you may need to find yourself a new copy editor. Or just go ahead and do a global replace after I return the manuscript to you. Just please never tell me about it.
        Abomination indeed.

      • It’s something David and I used to be confused over. He was taught ‘they’ was correct for an ‘unknown gender person/general reference’; I was taught ‘he.’ “They” in the singular still twigs me wrong.

        • When I was growing up, common usage was that “they” could be sort of the “hypothetical generic.” It specifically implied “might be male, might be female, might be singular, might be plural.” But even then it mostly referred to generic *group* behavior. Or else to something *very* generic–“Somebody saw me doin’ this, they might call the POH-lice.”

          The post-modern form makes no sense at all.

        • wanderingmuses

          I was taught the same way as David. It’s taken me years to break the habit.

      • So “they” have already won?

      • Yes. But did you get to write “stet dammit” as a result? That almost makes it worth it.

        • I have a stamp that says STET DAMMIT
          And one that just says STET. The first one was created for a Bantam edit in which the copyeditor told me I should capitalize Terra Firma (because it’s a country) and about a dozen such. I was stamping those areas with STET so thickly Dan got me the STET DAMMIT.
          Now it’s all electronic…

    • I have found one place where use of both ‘he’ and ‘she’ as generic pronouns has worked well: RPG books.

      Quite a few use ‘she’ as the gamemaster pronoun and ‘he’ as the player pronoun or vice versa. In that context it actually proves useful.

      • I think D&D 3rd edition had example characters for each character class. When referring to a generic character of that class, the standard was to use the gender of the example. I don’t remember what they did for other uses.

        • Weber uses the gender of the speaker. If it’s slash fanfiction which I know is mostly women, I’ll use she.

          • Weber uses the gender of the speaker.

            Which seriously grates my nerves every time I read it, even while at the same time I acknowledge that it is an intelligent and entirely defensible way to go about it.

          • It’s an acceptable artistic choice because he writes in the tight third person. It brings the reader more closely into the perception of the current protagonist. Two thumbs up for craftsmanship Were he using something more like the omniscient viewpoint of Vanity Fair it would be nails-on-the-blackboard time

    • The latter might be Hugo worthy…

    • Actually, singular ‘they’ was a thing in Middle English, probably also because of linguistic nervousness (there were a lot of regional things going on, and Old English ‘he’ and ‘she’ sounded very similar. Also they were just losing the pronoun for addressing two people, no more and no less).

      But making a colloquialism into a requirement is cruel and ill-conceived.

    • Or, occasionally, I might do what some computer science geeks do to poke fun at all this, which is to flip between “he” and “she” every couple of sentences.

      You use it to poke fun at people. But I once saw a request for writing submissions that *explicitly* told writers to alternate between genders when dealing with indeterminate gender.

    • Surprisingly these pronoun police have not adopted the existent singular it for use as a neutral singular pronoun.

      • Especially since we do in fact routinely use it as such
        “Who is it at the door?”
        “It’s the messenger.”
        “What does it want?”

      • I’ve been trying to get them to adopt s/h/it as fully inclusive; so far no takers.

    • The current level of this:

      My favorite bit about “African American” is when a writer for a New York paper had to go through three different editors to explain when he used the term “Jamaican”, he wasn’t talking about someone’s ancestry, he was talking about a bloody citizen of a Caribbean nation. But the copy-book and style and form guide said “African American”…

    • As my husband’s copy-editor, I strike every “they” and replace it with “he.” And trust me, when it comes to being anti-SJW-convergence-whatsit, I’m the benefit-of-the-doubt, try-to-see-all-sides softie of the operation.

      But he keeps letting the Marxist education system indoctrination he was basted in his entire life slip in.

      It’s why Mrs. Hoyt’s observations on the ways the various anti-establishment rebellions here in the U.S. go wrong are apropos. And by God, I wish the conservative establishment had figured it out. They’re still in prog-style: “Let us observe the Tea-Partier / Gamergater / alt-righter in it’s native habitat, Jim,” mode.

      So many of our countrymen have got the Marxist baloney baked in. I’m dead lucky (as are the home-schooled kids) that I don’t.

      But there for the Grace of God go I.

  2. scott2harrison

    At least one girl used the “African-American” thing. She got into one of the ivy league colleges under affirmative action when she was about as white as anyone in this country. When she showed up for classes and the SHTF, she defended herself as being an immigrant from South Africa thus she was and African-American and had checked the box appropriately. I think that she got away with it too.

    • That is awesome. ~:D

    • Larry Patterson

      Someone pointed out, in 2004, that Kerry’s wife Teresa is African-American as she was born in Mozambique.

    • I always say that my two favorite African-Americans are Peter Grant and Charlize Theron. Love them both for entirely different reasons.

    • In the 70’s they used to have a box ‘native American’. I was born here, I’m a native American. So I would check. So would a lot of other people. Then they changed it in most places to actually say ‘American Indian’ or something similar.
      But I still come across ‘native American’ occasionally.

      I knew one guy who found out the name of the actual tribe he was descended from in Poland. He’d always check ‘other’ and write in the name of the tribe, and claim minority status. Worked too.

      • Most of the government forms I’ve seen in the last decade have had “Native American.” I dutifully check that box every time.

        Being a typical mutt-American, it’s not even a lie. My ancestors were proud of their various Cherokee intermarriages. Not like breeding with those shiftless Seminoles…

        • When The Daughter was in pubic elementary school the forms all had a list of check boxes for ‘origins’. There was a dedicated contingent of us who, for veracity – yes, but also for the reason of being just plain stubborn about not playing such games, would consistently check the ‘other’ box. At the time ‘mixed’, which was most of us were, was not an available option, forcing anyone with such heritage to choose only one aspect of our background. How racist can you get?

          • Objection!!! First, you have mispelled the term, probably in an effort to disguise its ethnic slurring identity. Second, the term “czech box” is ethnically discriminatory and continuation of the suppression of an Eastern-European culture.

            Similarly, demands that one “Czech Your Privilege” are clear ethnic suppression.

      • In the 19th century, “native American” meant WASP.

        • Larry Patterson

          To be a native Texan, both parents have to be born there. Thus illustrating the absurdaty.of this.

        • unless you can find another source, i call BS.

        • Of course you do know that’s a joke site, right?

          • Yes – it was actually Joe Biden, and what he said was we need to maintain an open border with Nativia.

            Hillary Clinton was asked her position but she couldn’t remember receiving the emailed question. She also said that she is sure that no special favors were granted Nativia during her time at State, and that their donations to the Clinton Foundation were simply support for the Good Works™ done by the Foundation.

  3. I rather fancy “Native American” because, while superficially respectful, it is nonetheless Eurocentric in its orientation.

    Of course, those whose heads are so far up their butts to demand such locutions are deaf to my mockery.

    It is all like all games of virtue signalling and subject changing, an impediment to actual thought.

    • They walked and/or paddled here. They just got here first.

      • They beat the Europeans here. I suspect most of the tribes that were still around at the time of Columbus were not actually the ones who got here first.

        • Given on their efforts to seize any finds of humans declared under their religious protection and fighting of any scientific study (google “Kennewich Man” or “La Jolla Bones”) tells me they believe the same thing.

          • A friend and I came up with a theory that it stems from the fear that the larger, better recognized tribes have of the smaller, less well known tribes. The last thing they’d want to have discovered is that the small tribe they’re trying to claim as an offshoot of theirs is actually the remnants of an older tribe that they displaced.

  4. Florence King (whom you would enjoy) pointed out many years ago that”native American” is itself erroneous. I am a”native American”: I was born here.

    The proper term if you insist would be “Aboriginal American.” 😋

    • I have read Florence King’s semi-autobiographical books.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        Pretty much everything by Florence King is worth reading (at least, everything with her actual name on it. I’m still way too amused by her stories of Adventures in Porn-Writing.) I am particularly enamored of “Feminists will not be satisfied until every abortion is performed under an endangered tree, on an Indian reservation, by a gay, black, handicapped doctor.”

        Also the bit where she revealed her regrets about chronicling a college lesbian affair: “I don’t mind if people think I’m perverted and unnatural, but I would just DIE if they thought I was a Democrat.”

  5. I am surprised you didn’t include in your list of misnamings “Welsh”, refering to those Celts who remained independent in the west of Great Britain after the arrival of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. The people called themselves Cymry and Welsh as a word comes from Walhaz meaning foreigner or stranger.

    They are called foreigner in a land where they are the oldest residents.

    Yet somehow Indian, just mistaking where you are, is somehow evil but Welsh is just fine.

  6. I caused great consternation in my PT school by insisting on using the word “crippled” to refer to people who were in fact crippled. This was in reaction to the insistence that “disabled” was horribly hurtful, and the proper term was “differently abled”.

    Instructors were not amused when the huge old scary man in the back of the class pointed out, in Stentorian tone, that “able” was not a verb, and “differently abled” was a meaningless noise, not English.

    However they held their peace, because A) huge old scary man and B) ‘able’ really isn’t a verb. In school it is good to be older, smarter, bigger and better read than the instructors. I went so far as to write a short paper on the history and usage of medical circumlocutions, to even less official amusement.

    SJW sissies are everywhere. They must be mocked, resisted and defeated whenever they raise their pointed little heads.

    • Scary old men and other non-traditional students give that kind of professor fits… harder to intimidate.

      • The best situation is when said student is older than the professor as well. Then you can get some real learning done because they can keep the professor and other students in line.

        • Been there a couple of times although just barely (she was also my advisor which was amusing).

        • *sad* Being better at English than your English professor was not good – because the teacher in my third year of high school kept looking at me to check if what he was writing was correct (the one in second year was fired/quit after incidents where she TRIED to put me (along with the other students who were native English speakers) in remedial class to the shock of the whole faculty, because her instructions were incomprehensible, and it took the principal yelling at her to finally get her off that idea.) I eventually – gently – suggested that doing so was undermining his authority, and with the principal’s permission, I didn’t attend that class any more, and resisted the teacher’s suggestion that I only get the nonattendance penalty (which would’ve still landed my grade at 95%.) I said this would engender animosity and suggested that 80 was better. I think after some haggling, we settled on 85. The young teacher felt I deserved the high grade; I pointed out I wasn’t doing quizzes and tests. He remarked to the principal that he’d never heard a student argue for lower grades before.

          I told him he was doing me a kindness. I lived very far away and could leave school early; and avoid the rush hour traffic. The arrangement worked out very well; the students who were my detractors were appeased by the ‘grade hit’ I took, my teachers shrugged, and reasoned I didn’t have to deal with English teachers any more until college.

      • It was bales of fun, I must admit. Huge waste of money of course, but that’s a different issue.

      • Hmm. In Montana, if you’re 65 or older, university is tuition-free. (Dunno about other costs.) Perhaps we need more scary old men in the classrooms…

      • It’s better still to be a scary professor, which my father was. In his late career (having terrified all the sjws) his principle amusement was waiting until the point in his Survey of History of Science class when they began to deal with Darwin. Some half-educated fundameltalist Protestant was sure to ask about “Creationism”, wherupon my father wold look over his glasses and say “I have never uderstood why you people want to call the Revelation of Genesis a ‘theory’.”

        The SJWs had long ago learned that an atheist/socialist arguing theology with the son of a minister who spcialized in the late 18th century was going to lose.

    • It would seem — to me, at any rate — that “Differently Abled” people have no need for Physical Therapy and that insisting they do, or even providing it for them, would be an expression of disrespect.

    • Last I heard, it’s ‘people with disabilities’, aka: put the ‘people’ first.

    • Y’know, I would like to see that paper. *cackle*

  7. The self appointed judges of language enjoy making others squirm, uncertain, and constantly cowering. Because of course the goal posts constantly change, so you can never be certain you’re using the most current correct term. Gives ’em a little thrill, it does.

  8. Hence the fact that these idiots on stilts roam the world calling Frenchmen (or Portuguese, or Italians) of darker skin “African Americans.”

    In elementary school the darkest skinned person I knew, almost blue-black, came from a family of ‘Native Americas’ who had migrated to the U.S. from the Caribbean. At the time there were already those who would condemn racism and at the same time preen themselves for their careful acknowledgement of the origins of oppressed minorities. (In those days this included the condemnation of ‘Polack’ jokes.) They kept calling him African-American, even when he most politely corrected them.

    • Oh yeah. My favorite Stupid Usage is from Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News… where I witnessed him referring to a black native resident of Africa as an “African American” to avoid the horrors of the B-word.

    • In high school I had two white classmates who’d been raised in Tanzania and South Africa (missionary’s kids… worse than preacher’s kids). They weren’t so polite about pointing out that the African Americans at school could barely find Africa on a map, had never been there, and didn’t know a thing about it. The sentence, “I’m more African than you are” came into play.

      One of them would occasionally get homesick, put Toto’s “Africa” on a loop, and beat the crap out of you if you interrupted him. Both of them genuinely loved southern Africa and listening to them talk about places they’d been was enough to make me almost homesick for it.

      Also, French for Germany is “Allemagne”. So the Allemans must have an impression on the Romance language group. (Why not the Alans? At least the Franks got a country named after them. And a disease.)

  9. As a side note, Sarah, don’t know if you’re looking at particular NA tribes or magic systems or how complex you need them to be, but if you want obscure nomadic type tribes, I can recommend looking up the Karankawa Indians of Coastal Texas.

  10. ISTR that a number of places once referred to foreign merchants as Franks or Lombards, even when they weren’t, due to the groups of foreign merchants the place had first extended contact with.

    • The village was funny about this. My mom and dad lived for a year (years before I was born) on the border with Spain.
      When they came back, very tan (it was a mountainous region and hot in summer) they were greeted with “You’re so brown from them African latitudes! How did the Italians treat you?” Because any place more than over the border was “arbitrary foreign name.” I THINK in times when travel was far more limited this was a fairly accurate vision of the world for most people. “T’em foreigners. Lombards, Galegos or something.”

    • And, if course, English is now the Lingua Franca of international aviation, trade, and science. >:-D

      • > And, if course, English is now the Lingua Franca
        > of international aviation, trade, and science

        There’s a lot of history behind that sentence…

        • Yep, the English are the most success people of palor at stealing the achievements of people who tan 🙂

          • “English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

            We steal their words first. Then their food. Then we call them ‘white’ and they’re just like the rest of us. Ask the Italians. And in a few decades, ask the Hispanics. (Says the used-to-be-Greek, but now is just another white guy.)

            • Actually, Hispanics were white by the census until the 70s. Only then were they broken out from Non-Hispanic whites.

              I can’t help but believe the growing brown power movement of the 70s pushed for it as part of their attempt to get affirmative action and government set asides a la blacks.

              They succeeded.

              In fact, their success as well as other identity groups from gays to women to now the transgendered is a strong part of the alt-right argument: politics is now decided by identity and only fools continue to fight on ideology. The conservative and libertarian right’s future is balanced on their ability to explain why that contention is not true.

              • Wait for Hispanics to get rich enough to vote for conservatives. Then they’ll magically become white. Witness George Zimmerman, Hispanic Democrat. One unfortunate incident and he’s suddenly a white guy.

                Hispanics today are remarkably similar to Italians a century ago, even down to the stereotypes. Fifteen to an apartment/car, breed like bunnies, gangs and criminality, etc. Let them settle and our kids will wonder what was wrong with us that we thought they weren’t just another bunch of (racist, sexist, oppressive) white guys.

                • Wait for Hispanics to get rich enough to vote for conservatives.

                  Assuming that ever happens…

                  Asians in California have been trending left-ward lately. State Senator Leland Yee (i.e. the arms smuggler) was being groomed to be the highest ranking Asian in California’s government before he was busted by the FBI (fun fact – Yee’s name was still on the ballot for Sec. of State of California, and couldn’t be removed in time even after he dropped out due to his arrest; he still got 10% of the vote). The affirmative action mess in California’s public universities from a few years back generated some friction (since Asians were being negatively impacted even more heavily than Whites by the policies). But to the best of my knowledge, it has yet to generate any sign of a split.

                  • Demographic distribution. Do Californians of Asian descent vote any differently than their white neighbors? It’d be interesting to compare voting patterns in (for instance) the Bay area vs. the more conservative San Diego.

                    • Well, given that the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote prog in California (the richest enclaves also tend to be the most progressive), demographic distribution probably isn’t going to help in this state.

                    • The issue here is likely that California being effectively a One-Party state, it would make no sense for those of Asian ancestry to vote other than Democrat. In such states the only way to have an electoral vote is within the party primary. Proper analysis would require looking at states where there is a functioning Two-Party system.

                  • Asians in California have been trending left-ward lately

                    They are not immune to the indoctrination at all universities….

                • Ah, yes, the magic Hispanics that will save the GOP which the GOP should spend all their effort on while, in the words of Kevin Williamson at NRO, the white working class should just die already.

                  And people wonder why I think Movement Conservatives have earned Trump and the Alt-Right.

                  As we said when I was growing up in Texas, dance with who brung ya’

                  • As I recall, Williamson wasn’t saying so much ‘die already’ as ‘move to where the jobs are and quit the self destructive behavior’. He’s from that white working class himself. He could have written that whole column for my extended in-laws. If they weren’t too baked to notice.

                    As for the magic Hispanics, the left can’t be out-pandered. Principles aside, it’s not worth the effort. And that goes for pandering to the white working class, too. “You been hard done by” is a line of crap, no matter who it’s directed toward.

                    • ‘move to where the jobs are and quit the self destructive behavior’

                      While the latter is simple the former may not be. Will Williamson free them from obligations tied to place (such as mortgages) that make moving harder, for example. As for his being from the white working class, it is very common for those who escape something to have contempt for those who did not.

                      The crowd at NRO has been embarassed by the white working class for years. Trump is merely giving them cover to induldge their disdain.

                      As for out pandering to Hispanics versus the white working class I’d point out only one has been pandered to by the left. Recognizing that as a growth opportunity is the secret sauce of the Trump campaign.

                      The GOP wants to pander to groups the left has already run all the while ignored the same constituancies the left has ignored. That is foolishness.

                    • The Dems pandered the white working class pretty much since their inception. Factory workers, white Southerners – these were the backbone of the Democrat party since the mid-1800s. Same spiel as Trump – you been hard done by. It won elections, but didn’t get the white working class anything but the state they’re in now.

                      You have a point on moving. For the rest, it’s not that hard to stay off meth, not go to jail for missing your child support, not have your kids taken away for neglect. This is my Thanksgiving entertainment – who’s not at dinner and why. Having some part-time pizza delivery driver tell me, ‘It must be nice to be rich’ when I’m working 70 hour weeks and still making less than I could get from welfare… that’s the pathology of the white “working” class Williamson is talking about. Now Trump’s telling them it’s not their fault their lives are screwed up when, for most of them, it certainly is.

                      When a one factory town loses it’s main employer, I have sympathy. When the former employees sit around getting fat enough to go on disability, that sympathy goes away. Lying to them and telling them you’re going to bring the factory back is what the Dems have been doing for generations. Just because it’s someone new lying to them doesn’t make it any more true or any more right.

                      As for how to actually bring manufacturing back? Cut regulations, cut more regulations, and end immigration – legal and illegal – for at least a generation. It’s not that immigrants are cheaper labor; they’re not. (I can’t afford them.) It’s that they’re less hassle – an illegal or H-visa isn’t going to gripe to the EEOC, play “I’ve got a note from the doctor” every time they want a day off, or file for unemployment.

                    • As for how to actually bring manufacturing back?

                      Not simply cutting regulation, although that is certainly needed. Or rather, more broadly defining cutting regulation. Make energy — the sine qua non of modern manufacturing — less unreasonably expensive and America’s superior productivity will help. Reduce the ability of unions to obstruct reconfiguration of manufacturing lines, another regulatory change.

                      It is also necessary to fight the mindset that people are entitled to jobs regardless of how well they perform them.

                    • That was my understanding of Williamson’s position. The world doesn’t owe anybody a living and pretending otherwise always ends badly.

                    • @Res: that might be what he was trying to say but his (and similiar) writing compared to actual conservative policy over the past 20 years says they are happy to embrace “the world owes you something” for lots of people who don’t embrace conservative ideology or vote GOP.

                      They seem to only expect much out of their own side.

                    • @Res and Ruffian

                      You aren’t “getting manufacturing back”, at least not what most people mean:

                      1. The US still does a lot of manufacturing just not in highly visible areas.
                      2. Energy cost is already bringing some assembly manufacturing back and over time may bring component creation back.
                      3. Worldwide manufacturing employment per $ of manufacturing output has been declining. Even China is seeing declines. As more capital (read automation) comes in manfacturing will continue to decline in employment.

                      We could, theoretically, bring everything sent overseas back in the next 50 years and still have lower manufacturing employment.

                      Re: Dem pander to the white working class…in fact they did until sometime in the late 90s when the college educated white plus victimhood minorities became the core of the party. Dems are as embarassed by working class whites as the GOP.

                      that’s the pathology of the white “working” class Williamson is talking about.

                      You’ll get no argument for me…I spent most of the first decade of this century white working class and saw what you are talking about. I’ve said the best way to remove sympathy for minimum wage employees is to have to manage them. Drugs, pregnancy out of wedlock, you name it are all killers.

                      However, what people can’t explain is why we have to subsidize such behavior among blacks and, to a lesser degree Hispanics and Native Americans, to the point that when blacks riot over not enough pandering and burn down their own neighborhoods we have to rebuild their neighborhoods and increase the pandering.

                      The grievance mongering of the white working class hasn’t happened in a vaccuum. It has happened in the context of both parties trying to find ways for government to rescue minorities from the same pathologies. Williamson has written plenty about what to do to fix the black underclass yet has less sympathy from the white underclass he is from.

                      By giving in to Dem pandering and trying to out do it or find a “conservative” way to do it the GOP and movement conservatives have little credibility in telling whites not to expect the same.

                    • I would argue that we subsidize such behavior to a greater, not lesser degree for Indians. We fully subsidize (where fully is defined as a very comfortable income, plus perks) whatever lifestyle they chose to live; from cradle to grave.

                • Talking about Conservative Hispanics: Remember Sen. Ted Cruz who was running for President in the Republican primary?

                  • Most Cuban refugees and their descendants are also conservative.

                    • And I think pandering to them has made Cubans worse off…why did East Europe reject communism along with the USSR but Vietnam and Cuban didn’t?

                      I can’t prove it but I suspect lack of contacts due to diplomatic isolation played a big role.

                    • I think you’re wrong. I think it’s being an island nation which allowed more totalitarianism. Also their role as the Russian source of mercenaries and attack dogs. It changed the country.

                    • They’re not isolated. The Europeans have been tramping in and out since the Cubans allowed it.
                      I know it’s the Libertarian explanation, but it doesn’t match the facts.

                    • How does island nation explain Vietnam.

                      As for being a libertarian explanation I’ve never heard anyone advance it. I came up with it when Obama opened Cuba and I got to thinking about Soviet satellites that were still communist. One of the first commonalities I’ve found is lack of a US embassy at the time the USSR collapsed.

                      As for the Europeans having relations I believe they did with Vietnam as well. I’m willing to assert a US presence circa 1989 was different than a European one. Oddly, I think the European presences were more raw, nasty, stereotype, “whatever for a buck” capitalism than the US presence was in the Warsaw Pact and would have been in Cuba or Vietnam.

                    • Vietnam, like Korea, has the other half to demonize and guard against. Also, from what I know of people that visited it, Vietnam has gone more than half towards capitalism. Also, eh, China hasn’t become capitalist, either. More national socialist. So the Asian pre-culture must account for that.
                      But uh… Cuba? no. Most Europeans there are tourists.
                      Yes, this is the libertarian explanation. I read it in reason in the nineties. It’s still wrong. It comes from a knowledge of Cuba from the US side.
                      You guys never saw them as the Russian shock troops, or knew how much they got out of that. Hence your vision is different.

                    • My impression is that China has gone Crony Capitalist, with most industry owned by the State (or by the People’s Liberation Army, which is sort of the same thing even if it is an affront to truth in labeling principles.) So, yes, National Socialist, which is a form of feudalism and hence most cultures are well-suited to it.

                      It is useful to remember that Communism is an economic overlay and not actually a culture in itself. Thus Russian Communism reflected Tsarist Russia with the Party in stead of the aristocracy, Chinese Communism found expression in the patterns established by the early 20th Century warlords/princelings, etc.

                    • “You guys never saw them as the Russian shock troops, or knew how much they got out of that.”

                      They were shown as such in the movie Red Dawn, which is the only time I recall that characterization of Cubans in either entertainment or the popular press.

                    • They were the authors of most massacres in Africa and other USSR occupied/client states.

                    • Another group that are awful but don’t usually commit massacres are the UN blue helmets unless it’s US troops wearing the helmets. This and other known atrocities committed by the UN killed Captain America: Civil War for me. The UN are the opposite of the law abiding neutrals they are usually portrayed as.

                    • Yeah, there’s no way the guy who does this:

                      imagines the UN can be trusted with power.

                    • “They were the authors of most massacres in Africa and other USSR occupied/client states. ”

                      I knew that (or at least that the were the authors of some, I’ll take your word on ‘most’). But then I knew people who were actually there. Most Americans knew little more about Cubans abroad than they did about Nigerians abroad (apparently their royalty not only spreads their seed far and wide, but are quite conscientious about making sure the offspring of their wild oats, get their just inheritance). Most Americans got their knowledge of Cubans from the news and entertainment industries. Which studiously shown them as the non-entities they were on the north American continent. And left the distinct impression that Cuba was basically an open air jail, that Cubans were confined to.

                  • He gave up all rights to call himself Hispanic, when he ran for office as a Conservative.

                  • Do I remember him?

                    I voted for him in the Georgia primary (I know most people think I’m a Trump supporter but that is far from the truth…I’m just willing to acknowledge that Trump is more threat than baboon).

                    However, having live on the border (El Paso, 1982-1985) and only stopped having family there in the past four years plus living in east Texas with a strong Hispanic presence (Bryan/College Station) until five years ago, I think this belief that a large percentage (40% or more) of Hispanics will become conservative Republicans if we’re just for amnesty and open borders as insane both in what we are willing to give up and the reality that what we’d supposedly get won’t happen.

              • Well, “white” is apparently an incomplete designation of race anymore. I was confronted with a form that announced my race as white, but then also had to have the not Hispanic or Latino box checked. Now I will cut this bunch a little slack, as it was a medical history form, and perhaps there are medical reasons for the differentiation. But the next problem is what exactly is the difference between Hispanic and Latino. Now, since Supreme Court Justice SodaMeister is the ‘wise Latino’ does it mean she is smart and a Hispanic is stupid?

          • scott2harrison

            Not only of the people who tan, just ask the French.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Well, in this case, the English stole from the French, who are also White. 😉

          • Larry Patterson

            A friend took me through the British Museum when I was in London. He noted that his people were great thieves. Some Brits are even modest about their great accomplishments and civilization. Sure they are. ;-{)

  11. Larry Patterson

    Thanks for pointing out facts of grammar. He is correct pronoun for generic gender. ‘They’ is just wrong!

    The German word for ‘one’ is ‘man.’ Die Weibliche Menschen sollen dass hassen.

    • Help, help, he’s typing German when I barely remember it. I’m being linguistically micro-regressed (to a language I used to speak.) Yes, I’m running. You can’t CATCH me.

    • “They” is probably correct for a single person when that person has multiple personalities. I initially started to phrase that as “Multiple Personality Disorder” but realized that terming such abundance of personae a disorder is discriminatory, personality-normative or some such.

      Posner, of course, remains a moron.

      • The proper term these days is “Dissociative Identity Disorder”, and many people with it simply refer to themselves as Dissociatives.

        • Actually, the positive terms these days is Headmates and they are part of a system.

          I call them ‘nuts’ as does the one woman I know who had DID (you know that saying about not sticking your dick in crazy…that’s goes from 1 to N if they have DID).

          • There is a very big split among dissociatives (no pun intended) regarding what DID is and how it should be handled. The Headmates (and “Otherkin” *shudder*) group basically says that there is nothing “wrong” with them, and that other people need to accept that their alters are real people and treat them accordingly. I have seen this taken very far, to the point where people have claimed to have been traumatized by an acquaintance using the “wrong” name.

            Then there are those of us who realize that DID is a mental illness that is treatable and who take responsibility for our own self-care and therapy, and don’t expect other people to support our delusional structures. We’re not as exciting or exotic, but on the plus side we can hold down jobs. I personally am very high functioning and have full co-consciousness, which has taken me a lot of hard work to achieve. (This means that I don’t lose time–even when I feel like someone else I remember what I’ve done and I take responsibility for it.)

            This is the same perspective I bring to Gender Identity Disorders, BTW (and there is a lot of crossover, which is something else the “trans community doesn’t like people to know). My mental illness is my responsibility and your mental illness is your responsibility. Even if your therapist chooses to indulge your delusion, I’m not your therapist. If someone looks like a man, I’m going to call him a man. If someone looks like a woman, I’m going to call her a woman.

            And anyone who wants to stick his dick into me had better start by being nice to me. Dinner, at least.

            • I took her to dinner quite often…I don’t think a movie ever happened though.

              I would note she was not a Headmates type and in fact didn’t tell me what was going on until she had a stronger than normal transition between and I was like “WTF”…apparently she functioned well enough that I hadn’t even caught it before (I thought she just had odd, strong mood swings).

              In fact, it was several years after I dated her that I even heard of the whole Headmates thing (via a Tumblrisms video) and I laugh at them and their “insanity” in no small part because of her. I had a strong, “she could work and be a mom and function, wtf is your problem” reaction.

      • But writers are always correctly “they” — otherwise how do you account for the Muse? of course, it might be that you’re referring to just one or the other…

    • In a recent brain storming session with a writer I know the character of Yoda came up and I realized that his distinctive sentence structure was likely patterned after someone translating German to English without rearranging the words.

    • Larry, weiblichen Menschen jetzt anderen Plakaten, so daß die “neutral” oder “weiblisch” sind. Dang confusing for those of us looking for the room marked “Damen.”

    • *is delighted with how much of that I still understood!*

  12. The Inuit, aboriginal peoples living in the far north regions, are commonly referred to as Eskimos, though they themselves consider it a pejorative term. As I recall, Eskimo is an Amerindian term meaning “eaters of raw meat.” Sometimes you have to ask just where a particular term came from in the first place.

    • Heh. Tribal names sometimes have various meanings, and sometimes the sanitized version is given in text books. My favorite is “Hitchiti,” which can mean ash-heap or mean people. Guest which one gets prominence.

    • For quite some time, the people now referred to as the Ancestral Puebloans were known as the Anasazi, because that’s what the Navajo called them.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Among the First Nations, their own tribe names meant “People”, while their names of other tribes meant “Enemy”.

        • And in most of the rest of the world, pretty much every last word used to refer to people not of your culture comes from the locals’ rendition of the word ‘barbarian’.

        • Or if not “The Enemy” the name they called the other tribe – “Those ones from over there.” I had fun with this in Lone Star Sons – the Delaware Indian character (who actually call themselves Lenape) referred to the Comanche and Apache as “The Enemy” and :The Other Enemy.”

          • Seeing as Delaware is a contraction/corruption of the name of the second governor of Virginia, Lord De La Warr, it not being the name the tribe used for themselves seems almost a requirement. 😛

          • Googling to confirm the meaning of “Comanche” I found the following:

            Comanche, self-name Nermernuh, North American Indian tribe of equestrian nomads whose 18th- and 19th-century territory comprised the southern Great Plains. The name Comanche is derived from a Ute word meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time.”

            The Comanche had previously been part of the Wyoming Shoshone. They moved south in successive stages, attacking and displacing other tribes, notably the Apache, whom they drove from the southern Plains. By the early 1800s the Comanche were very powerful, with a population estimated at from 7,000 to as many as 30,000 individuals. Their language, of the Northern branch of the Uto-Aztecan languages, became a lingua franca for much of the area.

            IIRC, L’Amour addressed the expansion of the Comanches in Jubal Sackett and that would be where I first learned that the “C-Word” was not their actual name.

            • It has occurred to me that the translation of Comanche as meaning “anyone who wants to fight me all the time” might be less than entirely accurate, taking literally what is actually an idiom. In which case the more accurate translation to modern English vernacular might be: “Effing A-holes.”

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I always liked Diane Duane’s Trekkie take on it, where the newly-encountered Romulans dubbed the Federation “Them, From There” and the Klingons “More of Them, From Somewhere Else”.

      • Navajo is another pejorative name (something like “gypsy” or “wandering thief” – proper name is “Diné”. The languages of that language group (includes Apache at least) contains stories of their travel from Canada (obviously before it was Canada) with identifiable location (I think Mt Shasta is in there). I had a friend who told of attending a powwow with a Cree indian (from Canada) with whom he spend the time locating common words between their languages.

    • Actually, some of the tribes related to Inuits who are not Inuits like to call themselves Eskimo, and so do some Inuits. See “the Eskimo Ninja” on this year’s American Ninja Warrior.

      • When every damn reference book available to the public calls you a certain name eventually your own word of mouth passed along traditions can get corrupted.
        And of course much the same was done by immigration officials at Ellis Island many years ago. Family legend has it that my grandfather had to get rather insistent to keep the clerks from changing his surname to Bower.

        • Tell me about it. Still doing detective work trying to track down which of my paternal grandfather’s siblings managed to make it to America, and when. Count on several variant spellings of each name.

          Granted, some of this was probably from trying to transliterate names originally written in Cyrillic or Hebrew letters to the Latin alphabet. (Abram/Abrum/Abraham, Feigel/Fogel, etc) but some (Pinya/Pinchas/Pinkas to Philip, Chonel to Harry) were pretty obvious renamings.

          To be fair, some of the records were just off due to illiterate record keepers – maternal grandfather’s family name is English, and the direct male line arrived in 1630. Digging through census records, there are a lot of entries where “Phelps” became “Phillips” or “Fips” depending on who was doing the writing.

          And the G2 grandfather whose name was “Jeames”, not “James” – you could tell which records he’d reviewed and which not by whether his name was spelled “right”.

  13. Shortly after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was looking for information and someone to relate to and so checked a book out of the library on the subject. The book started off well, discussing the author’s personal history and his son’s and the general history of diabetes treatments…and then the book went into an entire chapter on whether or not it was every appropriate to use “diabetic” as a noun, or if that was horribly insulting to to every person who’d ever had diabetes and every person who used it should be hounded out of polite society. Because clearly if you describe a person as “a diabetic,” the only possible interpretation of that is that you believe that the disease is all there is to him, and all his other achievements in life count for nothing. No, seriously, that’s pretty much what it said. At that point, the book got tossed aside on the grounds that if I were looking for someone I could relate to, this author clearly wasn’t it.

    So yeah, the language police are out in force, and even when you would think they would have more important things to talk about, they just can’t let it go.

    • Ponder the confusion of “He’s a diabetic,” with “He’s adiabatic.”

    • There is a long history in English ( and other languages) of using an adjective to refer to a class or type of people, as in the phrase “Only the good die young.” Or ” Youth is wasted on the young”

      Speaking of “the disabled” or ” a diabetic” is all this is. The “person” is implied.

  14. Back when Russell Means (in no way fitting the description of ‘apple’) was running for the nomination of the Libertarian Party for election to president, he came to speak to the MN state convention, and began his address thus: “How many of you were born in Minnesota?” About 2/3 of the room raised their hands, and he said, “Welcome, my native American brothers and sisters! I am an American Indian.”

  15. Having lived in some parts of the American Southwest where Indigenous people outnumbered Europeans, all the Indians I knew used “Indian” to refer to themselves, when talking about the general class of Indigenous people. It’s an easy shorthand. No one except White people have ever taken me to task for using it.

    Now, if I’m talking about members of a specific nation, I’ll use that instead (in my books I refer to Stuart Dogs as Cherokee) but a mixed nation group of people will refer to themselves as Indians and won’t object to others doing so, except occasionally to jerk someone’s chain.

    On the other hand I do use “she or he” as a singular when the gender of the individual is unspecified, just because it isn’t that many more characters and I think it’s clearer. I hate the singular “they” and while “he” is technically correct, it makes me want to look back to see if I missed a specified antecedent and the writer switched from a general to a specific case.

    • Re: Usage of Indian: sounds a lot like the fact that polling shows over 90% of Indians aren’t offended by the Redskins football team but 125% of society lady liberal sports writers (even the ones with Y chromosomes) are.

      • As I recall the term “redskins” was invented by Indians, to disguish themselves from the palefaces.

        My professional mentor was an Ojibwa chief. He called himself an Indian.

      • “Society lady liberal sports writers” I think mostly fall in the category of what James Taranto called “Wannabe Pundits.” They can’t believe that they’re wasting their prestigious journalism degree writing about men playing a game, so they have to find a way to tie it to politics. This allows them to use their forum to lecture us rubes who just want to read about how Dak Prescott is shaping up at QB and tell us what sexist, racist, morons we are.

      • I always wonder why they named the team after peanuts.

  16. The deal with “Indian” may go back a long time and have roots in the Noble Savage mem. William Bartram was “eat up” with it; Louis Milfort was a refreshing cure (he ran down Americans, but he also pulled no punches with the Creeks). Some of it may be a feeling of guilt, especially for those who know little history. I’ll only note that while some may get upset about the term, the Indians I knew used the term, as does my wife, who has some Indian ancestry.

    No, I’ll note something else. Even though the Indians I knew used the term, I went through a long spell of trying to find a politically correct term not to offend. That’s what perpetuates stuff like this.

    • At its most basic level, the word “Indians” is merely the English-language noun identifying any member of unidentified aboriginal tribespeople, or when applied to a group, any undifferentiated such group.

      Quibbling over it as offensive is twaddle. I do not doubt the Comanche find it no less objectionable to be joined with the Navajo as “Native Americans” than as “Indians”.

  17. It’s all sympathetic magic, see. The name creates the thing. The name is the terribleness. If you change the name, then the thing isn’t there any more! (Of course humans, not being that stupid, change the connotation anyway and we’re back to square one.) Example #1, “silly”. In Middle English the meaning was changing from “holy” to “slightly touched in the head by God so we don’t ask him to go to the well because he gets lost in mudpuddles.” Or the word “nice” which used to mean precise, choice. Jane Austen made fun of that word drift in Mansfield Park. And in my own lifetime, “gifted” in the public schools changed from “if these kids are not given something to think about when bored they will hotwire the Speak’nSpells/foment insurrection against the teacher/train attack frogs” to “must always have drool cup”. Because, you see, “gifted” was positive and they wanted the poor kids being mainstreamed to be thought of in a positive way. And it massively failed, because drool cup.

    At the risk of inciting riot, I do not concur with the he/she/they issue. “they” is quite appropriate when the individual referenced is unknown. (c.f. Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and others). This rulemongering is a result of the British cultural cringe faced with Latin, and trying to jam their own language in the rules that belonged to another. Assigning a gender that has not been earned is just as incorrect as assigning a plural that is not earned. If “he” can refer to a random individual (possibly female) as well as a specific male, I see no reason “they” cannot refer to a single individual as well as multiple.

    Yngvi is a louse, Posner is a moron, and I want one of those pretty, pretty Dragon awards, not that carp you are loading in the carpuchet. Kthanxbai.

    • It’s all sympathetic magic, see. The name creates the thing. The name is the terribleness. If you change the name, then the thing isn’t there any more!

      I know this was mostly meant as snark but the frightening thing is a lot of people the left who wrap themselves in SCIENCE! seem to be more of this thinking than anything else.

      • It is the same magical thinking of ‘What if you threw a war and nobody came’ (hint: it’s called annexation and conquest). Or declaring writing the best after 100 people like it.

      • That is because SCIENCE! is one of their magical words that makes all arguments irrefutable. It is part & parcel of their collective cargo cultism.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Yep, somehow “banning Hate Speech” prevents people from Hating. 😦

        • Patrick Chester

          It seems to be used as an excuse to hate… just claim your victim is engaging in hate speech and you can hate them with a clean conscience. *facepalm*

          • “I know there are people in this world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I HATE people like that!!” — Tom Lehrer

            • “It’s fun to eulogize people you despise as long as you don’t let them in your schools.” – Tom Lehrer

              Although to give full credit it is thought by every white liberal in America.

            • It’s as American as apple pie.

              And then ‘another example of pure realism in popular song…’

    • Sabrina: EVERY indo-European Language does it. If the silly Romans interfered, they interfered with everyone and it’s a long time ago. Right now changing it doesn’t do anything but annoy and give people a feeling of unmerited “touchy feely” superiority.

      • My Latin is 40 years old and severely deteriorated, but as I vaguely recall it generally omits personal pronouns entirely.

      • IIRC, Hindi doesn’t differentiate between “he” and “she”, though it does between “him” and “her.” (Disclaimer: never got much beyond basic tourist Hindi, so actual usage may not be what my textbook said). And it’s Indo-European.

        • Interesting…. I might have to find if my linguistics teacher is still alive and beat her, as she gave us that as a “non negotiable” starting point. 😛

          • Can I help? That was linguistics malpractice!

            Farsi doesn’t do gender pronouns either; and like Hindi, it’s in the indo-Iranian sub group. I suspect your linguistics teacher thought all Indo-European languages were European, though I don’t know how she passed Linguistics 101.

            • It was probably long enough ago that she simply meant European. Indo-European seems to be a newer term, while linguistics experts no doubt knew the languages were connected, it is only fairly recently that those people not on the European continent have been grouped with the Europeans in general discussion.

              • The relationship between Indo-Iranian and most European languages has been known at least since Sir William Jones lectured on it in 1786. The term ‘Indo-European’ dates to 1813. That linguistics professor must have been as old as Methuselah for that to be a valid excuse.

                • For whatever reason, I read that as her “English” teacher, not linguistics. Which isn’t what Sarah said, but my experience with most foreign language teachers has been that they know how to speak a foreign language, not that they know jack-all about linguistics, nor are most of their students interested in learning more than how to speak the language they are taking the class to learn.

                  • It was college. I studied language and literature. I studied linguistics. I used to take stuff through regressions back to middle English. In fact this was part of our exam. Seriously, this wasn’t a “language course” it was a Modern Languages and Literature degree.

        • Heck, Spanish doesn’t differentiate between “his” and “her.” “Su” is the possessive pronoun for both genders. Let me tell you, it can be a bit confusing when my native-Colombian wife is talking about something that happened and randomly assigns “his” or “her” to a person without regard to the gender of that person. 🙂

          • So? French (like Latin) quite properly gives possessive pronouns the gender of the thing possessed. English is weird.

          • Not just an Indo-European language thing. I believe that the Chinese language family (given the amount of difference, calling them “dialects” is political, rather than objective) dispenses with gendered pronouns.

            And yes, my Hong Kong-born wife tends to use “he” and “she” interchangeably if she’s distracted. Which leads to things like “I just talked to my brother X. She told me . . .” It’s purely a verbal tick – it never shows up in her written English.

      • Swahili doesn’t have gendered pronouns. And most native speakers are Muslims and wrap their women in black bags, so the fact that “yeye” can mean “he” or “she” doesn’t seem to have much impact on the culture.

        • I understand from Kirsi, wherever she is today, that Finnish also doesn’t have gendered pronouns for HUMANS.

          • Oh, right. Neither do Hungarian or Turkish. There may be more justification for limping all three together as Finno-Ugric than I used to think.

            • Useful and pretty languages “tree” (with kitties!)

              In the webcomic itself the characters (all Scandinavian) have lots of linguistic fun since they don’t always understand one another. A liability in the middle of a zombie apocalypse…

            • OTOH the Portuguese gender EVERYTHING including objects, and everything HAS to agree in number and gender. If I hadn’t learned the language as native, I doubt I’d be able to. Worse than German.

              • Ah, but my German/Deutsch instructor in College admitted that you could get away in German using the sound: da.
                As in; I holde da hosen in da hand. Being how WW II soldiers expressed availability of nylons to the ladies in the bar/brothel.

              • Now I’m wondering if you can jigger gendered pronouns into a Bantu language that already has 9 or more noun classes without messing up the rest of the language. (Mutters to self, draws diagrams, wander off into the Forest of Syntax…) Sorry, this is probably not interesting to anybody else here.

                • LOL. Now I want you to write sf with alien languages.
                  I’ve had this idea in the “someday” forever, where humans get kidnapped (all those UFO abductions!) because aliens can’t LEARN languages. They’re born with them. We’re the only species that can create them, learn them, translate, etc. So we’re very … precious slaves? on interstellar trading ships.

                  • Hey, Traders need Translators, right? If you can’t learn languages you need some animal (however unruly) to do it for them.

                    Of course, if those translators get ideas of their own …

                    I s’pose those anal probes UFOs are rumored to practice are their attempts to eliminate humans with their heads up their butts?

                  • If the aliens have any sense, they won’t kidnap Americans for this task, right?

                    Noam Chomsky would love your aliens. They would finally validate his thesis that language is pre-programmed in the brain…for some species! Messy old human languages just won’t cooperate with the theory, even after decades of torture.

                  • I used to have a recurring dream many years ago in which I was a translator at a party. I would wander from group to group, listening to one person talk, then translating their words for someone else.

                    The disturbing thing about the dream was that I knew none of the languages I was translating.

                • “Now I’m wondering if you can jigger gendered pronouns into a Bantu language that already has 9 or more noun classes without messing up the rest of the language. (Mutters to self, draws diagrams, wander off into the Forest of Syntax…) Sorry, this is probably not interesting to anybody else here.”

                  *quietly hides notes on several conlanguages and their fictional anticedents and whistles innocently*

                  • Oh, yeah. Last month I worked out a whole series of phonetic and spelling changes for medium-future English names. Thing is, though, I’m not going to ask readers to learn them. I’m just hoping they’ll unconsciously get a sense of consistency that will make this world more “real” to them.

                    See? I have actually learned that normal people don’t want to hear me blather on about language! Really I have!

                    A column about language in SF might be interesting reading, though. Sarah? Looking for topics?

                    • Margaret, if you don’t mind being seen in this den of iniquity, I’d be honored. Future language, alien language, anything your little heart desires. Make it a series. I’ve left it behind me a LONG time ago, but I’m still interested and I think most people here would find it fascinating. (No, we’re not “normal” as such.)
                      I know what you mean with the language, because I had to learn to just drop it and history in without the really fascinating stuff. The fascinating stuff (to me) mostly ends up on this blog. Glad I found kindred souls.

                    • Sarah, I was actually thinking about YOU writing a column, but if you allowed me into the den of iniquity, I’m the one who would be honored!

                    • Allow you into the den of iniquity?!? Sarah is desperate for guest bartenders for this den due to impending paid fiction deadlines.

                      Besides, hardly any of us have iniquited this month.

                    • RES, you iniquit while standing still. Be honest.

                    • Sigh, you wound me deeply Sarah. Just look at that icon; does that look like the face of an iniquiter? That cuddly-wuddly face, the very embodiment of innocence, would never iniquit for love or money.

                      OK, for a good laugh, maybe, but otherwise …

                    • Pinches cuddly-wuddly face and coos, “Who’s an iniquitous Wallaby?”

                    • oy — I’d have to study way too much to do it, and the linguistics books are still buried. I’d love to have you do one, though.

                    • *contemplates what RES is going to do when he encounters the natives in TXRed’s new series. Enjoys grin at thoughts of pending chagrin* What? 6′ tall obstructionist wallabies who link up with 28thCentury SJZs? Who, meeeee-ow?

                    • I’d love to iniquit with you guys – just tell me where to send the actual words.

                    • first initial, middle initial (mine) last name at hotmail dot com.

                    • *perks up* YES PLEASE.

                      (Why do you think we’re here? We’re the Odds.)

                    • I recall that my original hardcopy of Tarzan of the Apes had a dictionary of “ape language” in the back, complete with rules for possessives, plurals, etc. I have seen this in a limited number of other fantasy/science fiction novels, so there is an interest out there.

                  • Syntax


                    My vices are taxed way too much already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                • (Mutters to self, draws diagrams, wander off into the Forest of Syntax…) Sorry, this is probably not interesting to anybody else here.

                  You stopped! Why did you stop?!

                  (for the record, I would find it very interesting.)

              • Larry Patterson

                Maybe, but learning Portuguese as easier after having learned German. But my mistakes with gender and number after 40+ years still identify me as a estrangeiro.

        • Neither does Mandarin. John C. Wright recounts how his daughter Ping-Ping will use, for third person singular pronouns, “he” and “her.” For people of either sex. So “She gave him the book” would come out “He gave her the book.”

    • Forget the carpuchet! We shall sick our army of trained attack frogs riding robots controlled by speak and spells on you…

      Great…now I got an idea for a short story with a bored kindergarten gremlin

      • Truth, my gifted class rewired the school so we could play with the lights in various classrooms. We were bored.

        • I was lucky in that I could get advanced reading and math in school. Kept me somewhat contained. Only during drama week was I breaking into rooms

          • I very much regret never learning to pick locks 😀

            • Didn’t even need that. Some locks just needed a knife. Plus I had power drills If needed

            • I learned to pick some of the simple locks (the key was basically a thin piece of metal) that were installed after my parents remodeled the house (hint – bobby pins), which proved useful on occasion when someone accidentally locked the door with no one inside…

              Never learned anything more advanced than that, though. And I sometimes wish that I had.

            • Although that is on my list of ‘for learn’. Plus I am trained in forcible entry now *evil grin*

            • I’m a certified lockpicker, uh, locksmith.;) Sadly out of practice, I’m not even sure where my lockpicks are stored these days.

              Yes I took one of those correspondence courses in high school.

              Not sure that the teachers would have been properly impressed if they had known I pulled the guts out of the lock to the biology lab, and hand filed a key to fit it.

              • Okay, I’ll admit being intrigued. Why specifically the biology lab?

                • Honestly?

                  Because I was bored while there, the lock was out of sight of the teacher, I thought it was part of a master key system (it wasn’t, apparently some locks were master keyed, while others were only single keyed, with no rhyme or reason that I could ever figure out)… and there were interesting things in there to experiment with.

            • I unnerved my dad once by picking our front door open with a swiss army knife – he had forgotten his keys inside; Mom didn’t have hers on her either. But that was a few decades ago. Supposedly you can’t do that now.

              • Honestly there is no real point to having a high security lock on your average house. Not only can I open any door deadbolted into a wooden frame with one or two kicks, but your average house has a plethora of ground floor windows. Do you really think the average burglar is going to be concerned about breaking a window?

                • It is a widely recognized fact that most criminals are specialists and attempt to limit their criminality to their chosen field of misendeavor. Frequently they even specialize within that field, so that a burglar, to use your example, will take pride in an ability to pick locks and would never think to come in through a window — doing such would be unprofessional and an embarrassment.

                  • Probably the funniest instance of that I’d read was Silk from Eddings’ Belgariad/Malloreon series wanting to complain to the owner of the lock he was having difficulty picking about how badly maintained they are – it was rusty! “No pride in their work,” was a common complaint.

                • Hahaha funny story. Back in 2012 in Townsville crime rose because of the deployment of a good chunk of the local soldier populace to Afghanistan. There were lots of break ins and thefts. Well the return of our men (Rhys was one of the folks deployed) was quieter. Someone decided to break into a defence house by taking a running leap through the living room window… And landed right in front of about a dozen soldiers who had just gotten back from the dustbowl and having a cold beer at one of their mate’s before going back to their own places to unpack. The would be thief was told to sit the fuck down, which he did very meekly do and the boys in blue were rung up to take the idiot away.

        • See? SEE? You thought I was *making it up*!! (points at Sarah) Notice her suspicious silence on the topic of weaponized frogs, though. Prolly because the statute of limitations hasn’t run out yet.

    • It may be instructive to consider one of my favorite lines from “Three Children and It” by E. Nesbith:

      “Each of the children went upstairs and washed it’s hands.”

      Seems to me like a perfectly reasonable way to refer to a mixed group of girls and boys.

      • scott2harrison

        Not really, the apostrophe is wrong. All right, it is wrong unless it was a girl speaking of a teen-aged boy.

        • That incorrect apostrophe is my transcription error, not E. Nesbit’s mistake.

          [blushes in shame]

          • The point stands, though. C. S. Lewis used the construction extensively as well. Apparently, a generic small child was neither male nor female. In England, at any rate.

            • Oddly (or perhaps not so oddly), in German a male child is ever referred to in the masculine gender (Der Junge) while a female is neuter (Das Madchen) until (I suppose) she reaches puberty at which time she achieves the feminine (Die Fraulein).

          • Horrible mistake! your penalty is… walking home from Persia.

    • “At the risk of inciting riot, I do not concur with the he/she/they issue. “they” is quite appropriate when the individual referenced is unknown.”

      I’ll watch your back in the insueing riot. I have always used they as gender neutral singular, and never had anyone take issue with it until the last few years. The problem at least in part, is that the “name police” keep changing what is acceptable all the time. After a while people get tired of it, then they go in the other direction and object commonly used terms (such as “they”) which didn’t used to be an issue, under the assumption that the PC name police had dictated the use of the term, rather than simply dictating that other terms were unacceptable.

      • Pfui. I’d have “they” marked out in English class. And buckos, you say what you want, but I’ll stack Carolina Soares (wherever she is may the Earth be light upon her) against all of you guys and stacks of grammarians and linguists. Without her I’d not be writing in English for a living. So pfui.
        JUST be grateful I don’t spend hours raging on “Lite” as a spelling. She did.

        • Wasn’t there a patent suit over the spelling of “Lite”? I seem to recall that some company that was one of the first to use that spelling had patented it, and filed suit against other companies using the same spelling.

  18. o.o Did you just call us a bunch of neanderthals?

  19. This blacklisting of words is a profoundly unserious trend of mind that destroys real thought and world wide debate.

    To me the horror does not lie in the attempted blacklisting of words, nor even the assigning of titles and roles to individuals based on something other than their own character as indicated by their behavior and achievement. (This really is nothing more than a new gussied up expression of whatever-isms.) I am not frightened by this, so long as the ability to hold open conversations about issues remain.

    What I find abhorrent is the moves to shut down conversation anywhere which challenges the position of these arbiters of proper-think and the attempt to enshrine their sense of correctness through the censorship of thoughts, ideas and words within society.

  20. I use ‘Native American’ largely because I’ve worked with a lot of Indians from India. It helps in mentally keeping the two groups distinct from each other. But on the topic of that particular group…

    Several months ago, I saw a comments post in which someone blew up at someone else because the latter person used the phrase ‘Native Americans’ instead of the phrase ‘Indigenous Peoples’. I later mentioned this to someone in an online voice chat channel who had mentioned that they were part of the ethnic group in question, and their response was to assert that the ‘Indigenous Peoples’ individual was an idiot.

    I’ve mentioned it before, but my understanding is that ‘Black’ was the preferred term of the leaders of the US Civil Rights Movement during the ’60s. They apparently wanted to use that term in an effort to combat discrimination within the black community itself on the basis of skin tone. The term ‘African-American’ ignores that rationale, which is one reason why I don’t use the latter term myself. It also leads to hilarity when US interviewers attempt to ask black foreigners about things like their experiences as a ‘Canadian African-American’.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      “Black” is apparently OK for Black Lives Matter, so it should be OK for the rest of us, right? Right?

    • Hence I prefer Amerindian, to prevent confusion with other Indians.
      There is more than a trivial possibility (based on medical issues of older son) that my husband has quite a bit of Amerindian blood. Of course, he’s pale enough you can use him as a photographic reflector, so he just muses on how the mighty have fallen.
      This would explain though why BOTH our sons are darker than even me.

      • In the blog that shall not be named, I’ve noticed the two groups are differentiated as feather Indians and dot Indians. It does eliminate confusion…

    • It also leads to hilarity when US interviewers attempt to ask black foreigners about things like their experiences as a ‘Canadian African-American’.

      If you needed more proof of the insularity and inability to believe in real difference among leftists it is right there.

      They demand a Canadian with black skin explain how he suffered the same experience as someone who marched at Selma without considering the radically different history each one’s family experienced.

      “Black” = “suffered under Jim Crowe” even in places where Jim Crowe never existed.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Before Obama became the “First Black President”, there were people who claimed that he wasn’t a Real Black because his father wasn’t a Black American and therefore hadn’t “suffered” like Black Americans had. 😦

        • Even after he became president. IIRC, it was Morgan Freeman who called Obama’s black bona fides into question a few years ago, noting by way of explanation that Obama’s mother was white.

          • AND he was raised by her white parents to a large degree.

            Doesn’t matter — you are racist for opposing his Soviet-style economic and social agendas. Remember: Logic is a tool of the DWEMs.

            And Posner is a moron.

            • So was Kolin Kapernick: abandoned by black father and white mother let a white family adopt him. He later finds his birth mother and asks about his birth father. She contacts the birth father who still wants nothing to do with him.

              So, of course a man whose signing bonus is more than I’ll make in my lifetime, as is his salary for this year, decides, despite half white biology and all white upbringing chooses to identify as black and speak out against the oppression he and other blacks suffer.

              Then is shocked, shocked that people think he’s a spoiled, privileged jackass.

              • While I agree Kapernick is free to express his political opinions, however Posnerian, I also think:

                a) the 49ers and the NFL have the right responsibility to demand certain conformities of behaviour from their employees (as witness their refusal to allow the Dallas team to express solidarity with the attacked police

                b) don’t actually give a @#!$ about what professional brutes footballers’ opinions on matters outside their area of expertise


                c) him to be among the strongest arguments thus far that the NFL has failed to take adequate steps to address the issue of concussions.

              • In the NFL 68% of the players are black. In the US, 63% of the population is white. So, in his field, Kapernick is in the majority, more of a majority than whites in the US.

                Do white NFL players feel oppressed?

                How can Kapernick be black, when his first name is Colin? That has to be the second whitest name in existence.

                Imagine how much money our poor oppressed Kapernick would make if he were white. You’d think he would proclaim his whiteness for all the world… then ask for a bigger check. (Very similar to the ‘Women only make 78% of what men do’ argument. Why not hire all women?)

    • Being old enough to have been an observer (Yah, I vas dere, Chollie!) I can confirm that “Black” was a term intended to unite and empower a sub-culture of Americans who had (largely) suffered from a long history of discrimination.

      For quite a long time the preferred word was “Negro” — a word accurately referencing a racial group and still used today in such identities as The United Negro College Fund. That the word was susceptible to mispronunciation (Lenny Bruce had a hilarious routine based on the Kennedy Administration’s efforts to get Lyndon Johnson to properly pronounce the word — a routine recreated by Dustin Hoffman in the film Lenny but NOT locatable on Youtube) was likely a large part of the movement away from it — that, and the fact that like all efforts to paper over an unsavory cultural artifact it eventually became recognized as the euphemism it was and thus lost all euphemistic capacity.

      Black was popularized in the Sixties and Seventies in such phrases as “Black is Beautiful” and “Black Power! (Ungawah!)” but, because of such identification quickly lost any neutrality of meaning. African-American arose from an attempt to create a continent-wide identity that overwhelmed their ancestral tribal differences, differences which had long since lost all contemporary power.

      There is a linguistic arms race in which partisans strive to contrive new terms in order to obscure fundamental, basic recognitions.

      • I double checked just just to be sure I was remembering it correctly. The 1850 census gives 3 choices, white, black, or mulatto. In 1870 Chinese and Indian were added. So black being used to refer to blacks has been around for a while, in an official sense.

        I read one that any term used to refer to people who are different, that is, not the vast majority, or those in power, eventually becomes a a pejorative, and will be replaced. And eventually that term will become a pejorative, and be replaced. And when enough cycles have passed, the term goes back to the original. Which will eventually become a pejorative, and be replaced…

        • Oh, and for the 1940 census: Color or race:
          White (W)
          Negro (Neg)
          Indian (In)
          Chinese (Chi)
          Japanese (Jp)
          Filipino (Fil)
          Hindu (Hin)
          Korean (Kor)
          Other races, spell out in full

          • Why don’ they just have one of these lists ( made sufficiently extensive to account for Africa and Europe) with the instructions ‘select all that apply’?

    • So how did the “Canadian African American” answer? After he removed his hockey stick from the interviewer’s eye socket, I mean.

      But the interviewer is subconsciously doing what I do when I hear someone like Joel Ward. I know he’s Canadian, but I do a little mental double take whenever I hear a black Canadian sounding like every other Canadian (eh). It’s what we’re used to, and getting out of our provincial mental bubble is awkward. Like whenever I hear a Yankee accent I reflexively assume they’re complaining about something and need to be chased off with a firearm. The polite ones are jarring. We hear what we expect to hear, because 99% of what we hear will conform to our expectations. Prejudging by our previous experience (the non-weighted definition of ‘prejudice’) saves time. (As opposed to bigotry, which is when you ask the black Canadian why he’s talking funny.)

      Which sidetracks into the “Americans don’t learn foreign languages” bit. We don’t have to. It’s 600+ miles from me to anywhere a non-English language is dominant (Quebec). Within 600 miles of Paris, France there are 13 other languages spoken. Go to Maine or Texas and you’ll hear French and Spanish. I don’t need either.

      • I concede a non-trivial amusement every time I see and hear Bobby Jindal for much the reason you give. I could vote for him as president almost solely on the basis of the pain from cognitive dissonance he would cause Progressives.

        • Actually had listed Jindal as an example, then decided to go with Ward. I run a hotel, so I meet a fair number of Indians. (How do non-Hindu Indians feel about being called Englishmen-dropped-the-H ‘Hindians’?) I just kind of expect the accent. First time I heard Jindal I started giggling.

          • I’ve got a friend who’s a native Indian (from India). He came over to the states at a young age, and his accent sounds just like any other guy in the US.

            One evening, a big group of us went out to dinner to celebrate a friend’s birthday. At one point, in commemoration of our friend’s birthday, the Indian guy decided to give a short speech… using a stereotypical “Indian from India” accent.

            He had us all in stitches.

        • He was actually my second choice this year and now I wish he’d made it to the Georgia primary (my first choice dropped out before Jindal although I’d switched to Jindal already based upon his great comments on my first choice).

        • Go one better – Gov. Nicki Haley. Not just ethnic Indian, but female as well.


      • I’ve gotten to the point that a British from a black actor or actress doesn’t throw me anymore. Hearing a Scottish accent from the girl who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter movies certainly did, however.

    • Absolutely right about the use of “black” in the late 60’s/early 70’s. I was around then and the catch-phrase of the day was “Black is Beautiful.” I wonder how that would translate today. “African-American is Awesome?”

  21. Christopher M. Chupik

    My favorite example is how “Oriental” became a bad word. It’s merely Latin for “Eastern”, at its base. Is “Occidental” also offensive?

    • I suspect it’s mostly incomprehensible to most young people…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Off Topic, but I find it interesting that British English uses “Asians” to refer to people from the Indian Sub-Continent while American English includes Chinese, Japanese, etc in the term. 😀

        • For Britain, the experience with Asia was on the sub-continent. For Americans, the primary contact points have always been with the eastern side of the continent (in fact, our only real colonial possession was in East Asia). Technically, Arabs are Asians as well (the Middle East is “Asia Minor”, after all). But no one anywhere refers to them that way.

          • “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin* of little minds…with consistency a great soul simply has nothing to do.” Emerson.

            Having “little minds” is something of which these people will never admit guilt, and while they may doubt the existence of souls they’ve absolutely NO doubt about their greatness.

            *hobgoblin (n.) Look up hobgoblin at
            1520s, from hob “elf,” from Hobbe, a variant of Rob (see Hob), short for Robin Goodfellow, elf character in German folklore, + goblin. Mischievous sprite, hence “something that causes fear or disquiet” (1709).
            Online Etymology Dictionary

          • The British press has taken to referring to Arab males who commit crimes as “Asian males” to avoid being considered “Islamophobic”. I remember seeing an article recently about a group of “Asian males” who had been arrested for multiple rapes and being surprised when I saw a picture of the men who seemed very Arabic to me.

            • Hmmm. I thought the preferred euphemism was “youths.”

            • Typically, the “Asian males” in question are Pakistanis. As they originated in the sub-continent, they fall under the purview of what the British public generally considers to be “Asian”.

            • Well, they are Asian. Indeed, they are the original Asians — what is now
              Asia Minor was the first area so termed, and the usage just kept referring to wider and wider spaces.

          • Technically, Arabs are Asians as well (the Middle East is “Asia Minor”, after all). But no one anywhere refers to them that way.

            They do in England, to my great rage. The Rotherham Islamic pedophile ring was referred to as “Asian” – they’re Pakistani, mostly. I am aware that it’s an attempt to ‘dilute’ the sins of one culture to a vague group, but I don’t appreciate being lumped in with them -because ‘Oriental’ is now politically ‘rude’ to refer to Far-East and slightly southern Asians.

    • Me too. When I discovered that ‘oriental’ was bad and ‘asian’ was good, I could not figure out what exactly the offense was.
      And why would ‘east’ be bad. In America we have an east coast and a left coast.

    • “Occidental” is only offensive if you add the word “Petroleum” and ask Al Gore about it.

  22. Presented for your consideration:

    ‘Blazing Saddles’ just restored my faith in America

    In this desperate moment of political despair and national crisis, what restored my faith in the future of America?

    Fart jokes.

    Well, not just fart jokes. Also racial, sexual and religious jokes. Not to mention the 15 schnitzengruben. (That’s my limit.) You see, I just saw “Blazing Saddles” at my local theater.


    We … wondered what it would be like in America 2016 to attend a showing of a film making fun of nearly every racial and sexual stereotype. Particularly in Alexandria, a liberal enclave. Would the theater be empty on a Saturday night? Would there be protesters? Would a #BlackLives Matter activist stand up when Gabby Johnson shouted “The sheriff is a ni—” and denounce the film as a white-privilege act of cultural oppression?

    I’m delighted to report we were spared any such gibberish (“authentic frontier” or otherwise). The theater was packed. And for any social justice warriors keeping score at home, the crowd was ethnic- and gender-diverse, too.

    The fact that I have to mention this irrelevant fact is one of the reasons my wife and I wanted to go in the first place. In the modern era of microaggressions and safe spaces, simply showing up for “Blazing Saddles” felt like an act of social protest.


    Afterwards, watching the crowd file out, still laughing and smiling, I felt something I haven’t felt in too long: Hope.

    Hope that my fellow Americans have not, in fact, lost their collective sense of humor. Hope that as angry as we might be over government and politics, we’re still a nation where regardless of race, creed or color, we can still laugh together when Cleavon Little asks, “Where the white women at?!”

    TV pundits and the professionally-offended class can protect their phony-baloney jobs by harrumphing over every stupid statement and tasteless tweet from politicians and celebrities (“Hey — I didn’t get a ‘harrumph’ out of that guy!”) but that’s not America. We’re not a nation of thin-skinned whiners waiting to be offended, or timorous citizens terrorized by jokes — even offensive ones.

    No, that theater was a far more accurate microcosm of America today: People who just want to live their lives, get along and have a good time.


    Generalization of this column to discussion of today’s post or to the Puppy Kerfuffle is left as an exercise for the reader.

  23. I was recently amused when a docent from a local museum was discussing the Tut exhibit and referred to the “black Pharaohs” who had once conquered Ancient Egypt as “African-American Pharaohs”.

    • Now I’m getting a plot bunny about vengeful mummies coming back from the grave to whack said docent over the head with a Nile carp…

      • Nile Carp? Pah! I can’t imagine any self-respecting vengeful mummy using one of those instead of a proper Nile crocodile.

        • You can hire a Nile Crocodile Whacker pretty cheap. Most of them work for scale these days…

          • How doth the little crocodile
            Improve his shining tail
            And pour the waters of the Nile
            On every golden scale!

            How cheerfully he seems to grin
            How neatly spreads his claws
            And welcomes little fishes in
            With gently smiling jaws!

            Lewis Carrol, _Alice in Wonderland_ Chapter 2

            • Golden scales! What, am I made of scales here! Look, we’ll cut a deal with IATSE and we can get them for silver…

            • How Doth the Little Busy Bee by Isaac Watts

              How doth the little busy bee
              Improve each shining hour,
              And gather honey all the day
              From every opening flower!

              How skilfully she builds her cell!
              How neat she spreads the wax!
              And labors hard to store it well
              With the sweet food she makes.

              In works of labor or of skill,
              I would be busy too;
              For Satan finds some mischief still
              For idle hands to do.

              In books, or work, or healthful play,
              Let my first years be passed,
              That I may give for every day
              Some good account at last.

              How times have changed. There is a reason that Lewis Carroll’s parody is better remembered than the original.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      That reminds me of that canard, much beloved of Afrocentrists, that Egypt’s ancient name of Khemet (the Black Land), referred to the skin color of its people. Of course, here in reality, it refers to the fertile soil around the Nile, as opposed to Deshret (the Red Land), the wastelands beyond. It drives me nuts to see people repeating this misinformation as truth.

  24. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I once heard a Navajo talking about the “Land That The Creator Made For Them”.

    What the Navajo didn’t say was that there were people living in that land before the Navajo arrived.

    In other words, the Navajo were just a group of conquerors pushing other people off their own land. 👿 👿 👿 👿

  25. I propose a change in title for this post, to “Seriously Unprofound”.

  26. Back a couple of thousand years ago, it was common funerary custom in the Roman province of Judaea for a bereaved family to hire mourners to weep and wail at funerals. One Jesus of Nazareth was reportedly disgusted at the display of fake grief, especially when it interfered with his attempts to deal with the real thing, and on a couple of occasions had the professionals dismissed.

    Modern equivalents might be the writers and spokesmen employed by various activist groups to raise a stink on their behalf. The result is an superabundance of ginned up outrage which has been drummed up by the professionally offended and echoed by those of raised consciousness.

    Hence the confusion of tongues, as people whose sensibilities are too dainty to use or hear plain speech trip over one another and commit macroaggressions on the one hand and absurdities on the other in order to avoid microagressions.

    It is tempting to overreact by being vulgar and crude, but that would be too easy. It would also interfere with my personal desire to be plainly and clearly understood. I content myself with wishing the Lords and Ladies of Politically Correct Vocabulary Change to take a speedy departure to the regions of Eternal Punishment.

  27. Let’s throw some Korean into the mix, one of those “Oriental/East Asian” languages.
    Learning and speaking the language is really confusing to English speakers because there are no equivalents to he/she/it. There are no actual third-person pronouns in the language.
    Instead, Koreans use personal names, titles (like teacher, doctor, student), or kinship terms (words which mean older sister, younger sister, father’s brother, mother’s brother, etc.)
    In fact, many Korean sentences are fine without using the pronouns that English seems to demand.

  28. Pingback: Some things that need to be said. | Truth and Tolerance

  29. ALSO in the news and somewhat related:

    How A Cakemaker Became An Enemy Of The State
    Why the story of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop matters
    By David Harsanyi
    “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the holocaust, whether it be — I mean, we — we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to — to use their religion to hurt others.”
    — Diann Rice, Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 7/25/14

    Phillips’ dad had helped liberate Buchenwald from the Nazis in 1945. He’s not around anymore, though you imagine he’d probably have some fascinating thoughts about a government official who compares the extermination of six million people with a couple being slightly inconvenienced in procuring a specialty wedding cake.

    Like any self-righteous zealot, Rice functions without concern for the practical implications of her power. In a rational world, her nonsensical haranguing would be dismissed as the ravings of an ignorant freshman who was cracking open Chomsky for the first time. In this world, Rice is appointed by the governor to mete out punishment on once free men.

    Rice’s attack is not unique. Christians are regularly compared to Southern segregationists and racists, when in reality the comparison is best reversed. Yes, the power of Jim Crow reflected popular will, but it was sanctioned by the state. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is similarly empowered by the state to use its arbitrary power to destroy the reputations, businesses, and lives of those who happen to offend their sensibilities.

    To anyone who believes the State of Colorado is a non-ideological arbiter of justice and laws governing discrimination rather than activists enforcing their own morality on others, consider this.

    In 2015, a Christian activist named Bill Jack walked into three separate bakeries, one an erotic-themed shop, and asked for each to design a cake in the shape of a Bible, with one side saying, “God hates sin – Psalm 45:7,” and the other, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin – Leviticus 18:22.” On another cake, Jack requested that the bakery inscribe a Bible verse on one side: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us – Romans 5:8” and on the other “God loves sinners.”

    In all instances, the proprietors refused to take the project. And why should any American be forced to create something that clashes against their conscience? So Jack, obviously hoping to prove a point, filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Christians, after all, are also ostensibly a protected class in the state.

    What to do? Well, the commission decided that bakers who discriminate against Christians were offended by content of the message and not the patron’s Christianity. At the same time, the commission claimed the opposite was true for Phillips, whom they asserted wasn’t offended by the gay wedding cake itself but rather by the sexual orientation of the couple.

    “There’s no law that says that a cake-maker has to write obscenities in the cake just because the customer wants it,” responded Mark Silverstein, the legal director for Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union. Despite some reports to contrary, Jack says he didn’t ask for any “obscenities” — defined as extremely offensive word or expressions — on the decorations. The problem is simply that we’re still not at the point where the commission or the ACLU can openly state that this is about enforcing new progressive norms and unsavory biblical quotes did not deserve the same protection.


    • For me the most revealing thing in the story is it came down to a GOP AG’s call to prosecute or not. He did.

      Freedom has not champion in the US political system anymore. Have the right skin tone, fiddly bits, prefered fiddly bits, or wished for fiddly bits and you can force others to do your bidding.

      I guess that is an improvement over only allowing skin color as license.

    • Note that Colorado didn’t legalize gay marriage until October 7, 2014. So Phillips was prosecuted (by the state) for refusing to make a cake celebrating something that was not even legal in the state at the time of his refusal.


  30. “If you grow up thinking of “he” unless applied in the particular as a genderless word, you don’t think it erases women, anymore than the now preferred (and grammatically grating “they” erases the individual.) You might as well say that, as habits of mind go, “he” being used as gender indeterminate erases the idea of male. It makes about as much sense. Possibly more.”

    Add in a little magical thinking and you can see why people are judged by group affiliation. They are no longer individuals. And while “he” cannot be male, “he” is clearly also erasing the female and pretty soon nobody is quite sure what they are.

    In fact, in modern times, I think we should all just give up and be “gender confused” and get preferences. Surely all 125% of us can be a minority.

    • I vaguely recall — perhaps it was Robert Donat’s Mr. Chips? — the explanation that “He” embraces both as man embraces woman?

      Well, IMDb doesn’t offer it, although it has this useful quote:
      Mr. Chipping ‘Mr. Chips’: I know the world’s changing, Dr. Ralston. I’ve seen the old traditions die, one by one. Grace, dignity, feeling for the past – all that matters here today is a fat banking account. You’re trying to run the school like a factory, for turning out money-making machine-made snobs. You’ve raised the fees. And in the end, the boys who really belong at Brookfield will be frozen out, frozen out. Modern methods, intensive training – poppycock! Give a boy a sense of humor and a sense of proportion and he’ll stand up to anything. I’m not going to retire, you can do what you like about it.

      But a Google for it produces this source:
      August 25, 2010 Daven Hiskey
      Today I found out that the word ‘man’ was originally gender neutral, meaning more or less the same as the modern day word “person”. It wasn’t until about a thousand years ago that the word “man” started to refer to a male and it wasn’t until the late 20th century that it was almost exclusively used to refer to males.

      Before “man” meant a male, the word “wer” or “wǣpmann” was commonly used to refer to “male human”. This word almost completely died out around the 1300s, but survives somewhat in words like “werewolf”, which literally means “man wolf”.

      Women at the time were referred to as “wif” or “wīfmann“, meaning “female human”. The latter “wifmann”, eventually evolved into the word “woman”, but retained its original meaning. The word “wif” itself eventually evolved into “wife”, with its meaning obviously being changed slightly.

      Interestingly, the word ‘men’, meaning “to think” or “to have a cognitive mind”, was also gender neutral and connected to “man”, which meant “the thinker”. So we can see from that how “man” originally referred to all humans.

      Largely due to the stigma that using the word “man” meaning “humans” is supposedly sexist, despite its original meaning, the use of the word “man” in that fashion has all but disappeared in the last 50-100 years, with it now only showing up in words like “human” and “mankind” as referring to both male and female. Even those instances still garners quite a bit of controversy in terms of being thought of as sexist, despite these words predating the point when “man” meant “male” only.

      One interesting convention that was thought up in the early 1900s to deal with this issue of “man” coming to mean both male and female and also sometimes meaning males exclusively is, in literature, to do the following: when referring to humans, “man” should be capitalized as in “Man”; when referring to “man” as in “male”, it is to be left lower case. This convention was used in such literary works as “The Lord of the Rings” and was a key point in the prophecy concerning the Witch-king of Angmar: “no man can kill me”, meaning that according to the prophecy a woman, Eowyn, could because “man” in the prophecy was not capitalized.

      — — —
      Down in the commentary some minor kerfuffle arises over attributing the “Man embraces woman” to Sir Winston Churchill:

      First expression: Winston Churchill was speaking in Parliament in the 1920s and Lady Astor called him down for using “Man” to mean “the human race”. He responded, “Grammarians will attest that Man embraces woman, unless otherwise stated in the text.”

      Second rejoinder: Churchill was making a triple entendre. 1) Man has meant “person” in English longer than it has meant “male person” and if someone wants to specify man as meaning “male person” the text will state such. 2) Male people will (naturally) physically embrace female people unless they state their desire to not do so. 3) This was a thinly veiled statement about how much Churchill himself didn’t like Lady Astor. The statement itself IS his personal “unless otherwise stated” toward her.

      — — —
      Taking the original sense of the word — to have a cognitive mind — it seems likely we can indeed agree with many feminists and SJZs that they ought not be called “man.”

      • I love this blog…all of that is great con language fodder as well as plain interesting.

      • There’s nothing sexist about the generic male. You can tell that by the way that feminists use no other. I’ve corrected several who thought that when “werewolf” meant “man wolf” that it had to be the generic and not the masculine.

    • Pam, check your email. The one I have. I’m flying Thurs. morning, and if you decline (TOTALLY within your rights!) I’ll have to find someone else.

  31. A bit late to the party and sorry if this has been addressed earlier:

    Any opinions on the presumption of ‘she’ for nurses, teachers, flight attendants, etc.?

  32. Ahem. I am reading “A Child of the Revolution” about a German kid growing up in the Soviet Union during the Great Purge.

    In class the teacher had just mentioned an an anti-fascist author. But, said a kid, his dad told him that the guy had been arrested.

    “The teacher went pale as ashes.”

    Hello liberals! You think there might be a problem here?

    • Hello liberals! You think there might be a problem here?

      No, they are always convinced that they’ll either be at the top of the food chain or that if they can keep their noses close enough to the exhaust port they’ll never have to worry about being at the bottom.

  33. “African-American” is a useful term when it refers to the substantial and growing population of recent immigrants from Africa.

    And (just for thought) what about the half-Kenyan President?

    Though… It seems easy and intuitive to distinguish ethnicities among European immigrants: Poles, Swedes, Italians, Irish, Yiddish (that is, Jews from eastern Europe, who were distinct in language and cookery from the non-Jews of the region and from other Jews).

    “African-American” seems too generalized. Will it ever be routine to distinguish Nigerians from Senegalese? Or Ghanaians from Ivoirians? And if not, why not?

  34. The correct spelling is alemães, although it is pronounced alemões in the North and some other areas of the country, including some areas around here. :0)

    I’ve always found the term African-American weird since everyone’s ancestors come out of Africa at some point, so everyone in America is African-American. :0)

    Rui Jorge

  35. I am of the opinion that the first thing one must do is ascertain whether your interlocutor is arguing in good faith, or merely engaging in a power game. ‘Let’s make the fellow so worried about saying “he” that he’ll be so distracted we can win.’ To which I think your pfui response is well said. At some point, more and more folks who think like we do need to impolitely and firmly inform the other side “he needs to go f*ck himself and not come back when he can have an adult conversation.” And if you’re addressing a wommon at the time, bonus points.

  36. I’m late to the party here and am not reading through 400+ comments to see if anyone mentioned this, but when you say “This morning I woke up starting at the cover and thinking “you could not get that published as a new book now. Because the word ‘Indians’ would be enough to set off choirs of howling on how bigoted you were.”” — I’m not so sure about that. Charles C Mann seems pretty liberal and publishes a lot in National Geographic and whatnot, but in his book 1491 he calls them Indians and even explains why at the get-go: It’s what they call themselves, so out of respect to their own wishes, he identifies them as they identify themselves.

  37. Germaine to the discussion:

    Interesting; I hadn’t ever really noticed that.