Think about the word ‘ghetto’ and how you would define it or use it in a sentence. The terms meaning and the context in which it is used has drastically changed since its origination. The word was introduced in 1516 as a street or area in Venice, where Jews were essentially held captive by the Venetian government. This term’s meaning continued to remain constant up until the mid 20th century. According to Camila Domonosoke, modern day ‘ghetto’ refers to poverty, poor living conditions, and appalling behaviors, often associated with African American culture. Ghetto can be used to describe characteristics of an individual or thing, but is it socially acceptable to include in our vocabulary, or should we completely dispose of it?
There are three sides to this argument; those who believe we should continue to use it, those who believe it depends on the situation, and those who believe we should ban it from our vocabulary entirely. Beginning with those who believe it should be banned, the main reasoning to their thoughts deal with the fact that people who use the word ‘ghetto’ today use it in a derogatory sense, rather than what it was originally meant for. When using this word some people may refer to things as looking ‘ghetto’ or someone acting ‘ghetto’. Again, in this context the word can essentially become what some would consider racist, as it has a negative connotation tied in with it, but relates to African American culture. I asked both my suitemates what their take was on this controversy. Both believed the word is only acceptable in particular scenarios. “It should be used the same way it was taught in history, but that is it”, says my suitemate, Ella. My other suitemate Gracie agreed saying “Yeah, it makes sense if you are describing the ghettos created for Jews, but the way I have heard people use it today is discriminatory and doesn’t even make much sense”. I believe the majority would agree with this. Personally, I agree with my suitemates. This word shouldn’t be interpreted any differently besides its original meaning, referring to Jewish ghettos. For people who believe it is socially acceptable, they may argue that the term is not racist. I also interviewed my roommate to see if she would take an opposing side and she did, saying “I use the term all the time to describe things, but in no way am I being racist, I am just describing how something looks”. While many may agree with her, the objects or actions usually described involve negative and undesirable implications and can be socioeconomically and racially tied together. When you google the word images of Venice may appear, but that is not the only thing. Images of African Americans and poor communities heavily flood the tab. This proves the idea that in current society, the term no longer revolves around the once Jewish communities in Venice, and could cause potential controversy in its ambiguous usage.
My image: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpress.uchicago.edu%2Fucp%2Fbooks%2Fbook%2Fchicago%2FH%2Fbo8119635.html&psig=AOvVaw1GtVLb6rxvDrbcnZEoQeQc&ust=1699726003021000&source=images&cd=vfe&opi=89978449&ved=0CBIQjRxqFwoTCOjyrviCuoIDFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD
Should the use of the word ‘ghetto’ be socially acceptable or eliminated from our vocabulary as a whole?
Intro into Academic Writing
Blog Post 2
Should younger generations be aware of gender pronouns?
The reasoning behind why pronouns are controversial is because people believe there only to be two genders which makes pronouns difficult for them to understand or be respectable of those who go by the pronouns. On the other hand, to those who do go by pronouns, it is controversial on their part because anyone who wants to be respected, when people don’t understand or don’t call the individual by the right pronouns there’s instances of them becoming upset or feeling disrespected. These two opinions are held by many and since the use of pronouns is fairly new, it’s less understood and less tolerated. While I only actually know the basic she/her, they/them, he/his, there are actually now 78 pronouns used by both male and female.
From the entire LGBTQ community in the United States, only 25% use pronouns. This is according to an article written in 2022 in the Wall Street Journal titled “When asked ‘what are your pronouns’, don’t answer”. For that article, 40,000 LGBTQ youth were questioned and only 25% say they use pronouns. We have to ask why – are they not comfortable with identifying this way, is it too new or too much of a stigma?
Growing up, I attended Catholic private schools and I have been doing so for my whole life. Pronouns were never conversant with or familiar to me until I got into my sophomore year of high school. At that time, it was confusing at first because addressing someone by his or her pronoun was so new to me. My highschool supported gender pronouns and I have since
discovered most schools accept and embrace this practice. In the beginning, though, it was odd and uncomfortable but that soon passed and I accepted it.
When it comes to my view on pronouns, I have a strong belief that we live in a free country and we have freedom of speech for a reason – it’s literally in the United States Constitution. Because of this freedom of speech, it’s unrealistic for pronouns to be restricted or forbidden. As someone who grew up unfamiliar with the use of pronouns and taught that there was believed to be only two genders, I believe that to have been for the best. While I don’t think the use of gender pronouns will sway a child one way or the other, I don’t think young or middle school aged children, should be exposed to multiple genders at such a young age because I do think it could make them confused.
However, I do believe that the right age to become aware of pronouns is middle school where new things are introduced and you are starting to become older and able to comprehend differences better. I believe that since it’s a free country and we have the right of free speech, if you want to be associated with, or identified by pronouns, it is your choice to do so and that should not be questioned or taken away from the individual.
According to the Radical Copy Editor, there has been an update to certain pronouns and in this article it happens to be “they”. Alex Kapitan who wrote the article titled “Update to transgender style guide “They” as a personal pronoun” noted that there is nothing incorrect about using
Interestingly, when I toured colleges last year, many of the tour guides asked me to say what pronoun I identify with. Because I am not used to being asked that question, I was surprised but thought it was fine just to answer the question. The biggest issue today is that this is so new, and so many older individuals don’t want to, or won’t change to meet the current times. Those who identify by these pronouns need to also adjust, even in a small way. I recently saw a video of a police officer who pulled over a female drunk driver. That driver insisted to be identified as they/them and the officer was so flustered trying to remember to do so, that it was distracting to him and to the most important issue, the drunk driver. The female drunk driver was so upset they/them weren’t being addressed properly, it added stress to a very stressful situation and as a result, the driver felt completely disrespected, and the officer felt very stressed. So I think it’s okay to use pronouns but there has to be a line of flexibility with those who require the use of those pronouns.
While this is a relatively new concept of pronouns like they/them, she/her and 76 more, I support those who want to be identified that way and I am hopeful I can adjust to continued changes like this in my future. The 75% of the LGBTQ community not using pronouns will hopefully feel more secure in doing so in the future, and hopefully those who won’t embrace this, will soon because it has nothing to do with and is not a reflection of those individuals who won’t embrace this change.
Should We Be Addressing Women as “Females”?
By: Alonjé Hamilton
Language is a powerful tool that we use every day to sufficiently communicate with each other. The way we choose to communicate through language signifies how we relate to each other. To be able to identify someone when they are not in our presence by using he, she, or they… or even being able to identify our loved ones by names like “dad” or “grandma” is what promotes better communication and mutual respect for another. However, everyone has a different understanding of language; therefore, some references made by others may not be in agreement with the way you use your language to address people. One question that has created controversy in our society is whether we should address women as “females” in conversation. Historically, “female” has been accepted in society as a way to address women.
An argument was made that the problem is not that women are not females, because biologically, a (cisgender) woman is a female, but being referred to as female would be a scientific reference, and referring to a woman scientifically is the derogatory way in which the word is used.. (The Problem witht Referring, Medium) By definition, the word female is defined as the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs. Therefore, referring to women as females may suggest that you are reducing them to being identified by their reproductive abilities, which is dehumanizing. Grammatically, the word female could be used for any other animal or plant. A female dog, or maybe a female flower, which is less recognized within the human language as they are neither human nor speak human language. Also, no one casually refers to men as males. So why is it normalized to casually refer to women as females? Another observation made is that when women are referred to as females, the incentive is usually meant to offend. It is often used in conversation when criticizing or devaluing a woman (used by both men and women) (Buzzfeed). This could be a sign of passive aggression, automatically correlating the word to something negative.
The common counterargument for this is that it is grammatically accurate to refer to a woman as female (Golin). Initially, I would have thought this concept was debunked, but if I am acknowledging these words under human language, using the word female is synonymous with woman. You will also hear an argument that using “female” instead of “woman” instills leadership rather than debasing. For example, using “women doctors” instead of “female doctors” is argued to take away the meaning and power of individually identifying man versus woman. However, using “female” alone is grammatically incorrect, as it is an adjective, whereas woman is a noun. In this case, female is used to identify the noun that follows. It does sound better in context, but it does not change the fact that an adjective is used to support the description of a noun; therefore, using the adjective “female” is not accurate. This, however, does raise the question: Is “female” currently used to identify someone based on biology or by gender? Because that could possibly change the meaning of the word in grammatical usage.
Thus, the language we use plays a vital role in shaping our perceptions and relationships.
Referring to women as “females” CAN have problematic implications, including dehumanization and objectification. I believe the use of “females” to refer to women may seem innocuous, but it can have significant impact. Adopting more inclusive language, or just using “women,” is a small yet significant step in promoting gender equality. As society continues to progress, language must evolve to reflect our commitment to equality, respect, and understanding.
Holly. “The Problem with Referring to Women as ‘Females.’” Medium, Medium, 13 Oct. 2022, medium.com/@hollymeijohnson/the-problem-with-referring-to-women-as-females-4728f1f6c3cd.
Hanna, Devan. “Stop Using ‘Female’ When You Mean ‘Woman.’” Golin, 22 June 2021, golin.com/2021/03/31/stop-using-female-when-you-mean-woman/.
Clayton, Tracy, and Heben Nigatu. “6 Reasons You Should Stop Referring to Women as ‘Females’ Right Now.” BuzzFeed, BuzzFeed, 8 Oct. 2014, www.buzzfeed.com/tracyclayton/stop-calling-women-females.
The Oxford Comma, or serial comma, is used before the final conjunction in a list of items. An example being “I have a dog, a cat, and a turtle.” The Oxford comma is the second comma in the phrase, coming right before “and a turtle.” It is used in English grammar as a method of providing clarity and structure to writing. A highly controversial grammatical subject, people very strongly believe that the comma should always either be included, or omitted.
Proponents of the Oxford comma argue that its use provides clarity and consistency to writing. Without the comma, it is easy to misconstrue the meaning of a sentence, thus altering its message. For example, take: “I love my parents, Jennifer Coolidge, and Liam Hemsworth.” The comma before “Liam Hemsworth” is essential, it clarifies that the author loves their parents, as well as Jennifer Coolidge and Liam Hemsworth. Without it, the sentence would read “I love my parents, Jennifer Coolidge and Liam Hemsworth.” This structure creates confusion, as it seems as though the author is saying their parents are the two actors. As such, the Oxford comma provides an essential clarification.
If this sentence was read aloud, most people would understand its meaning regardless of the comma, however it is important to note that “The purpose of commas is to separate and indicate short pauses between clauses” (Oxford Royale). If we want to follow the correct grammatical structure, the use of the Oxford comma is essential.Another argument in favor of the use of the Oxford comma is that it provides consistency across writing. Most major style guides in the United States mandate its use, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the American Psychological Association (APA). These guides are incredibly influential in the literary world, and those in favor of the comma would argue that its use provides an essential consistency to writing.
Opponents of the Oxford comma contend that its use is unnecessary, and should be omitted for the sake of simplicity. Take the phrase “I am going to the school, the store and my house.” In this case, the use of a comma after store would be redundant, anyone would be able to understand the author’s meaning regardless of punctuation. Jocelyn Huang states “Another reason to skip the Oxford comma is to save time, both for the writer and reader.” (Huang). She argues while implementing the comma may only take a moment of the author’s time, that time builds up. Furthermore, people don’t usually read things differently regardless of comma usage. It is also important to note that while many major style guides mandate the use of the Oxford comma, the Associated Press (AP) does not.
Ultimately, I believe that it is always better to err on the side of clarity. Implementing the comma doesn’t have the possibility of confusion or negative repercussions as choosing to not implement it might have. As even the anti-Oxford comma Associated Press states, “punctuation is to make clear the thought expressed” (AP). In this case, why omit the comma and potentially cause confusion?
Huang, Jocelyn. “The Case against the Oxford Comma.” The Daily Californian, 28 Feb. 2020, dailycal.org/2020/02/28/the-case-against-the-oxford-comma.
Associated Press Stylebook, www.apstylebook.com/. Accessed 13 Nov. 2023.
Oxford Royale. “What Is the Oxford Comma?” Oxford Royale, 17 Mar. 2022, www.oxford-royale.com/articles/oxford-comma/.
In the year 2023, we have come to be surrounded by many nuanced terms and ideas regarding gender and identity. One very specific change that people are trying to adopt is instead of using the female gender to ascribe to a pregnant person, many are opting to just take gender out completely, and use gender neutral definitions. The reason for this change is that there are lots of transgender and non-binary citizens who feel as if they are being left out when the people say things like “only women can get pregnant”. This situation is one that is incredibly delicate because obviously people wanna respect the trans and non gender conforming communities, but in a way is it not unfair to women to have this incredibly gender specific thing sort of taken away from us.
As I was conducting my research on this topic, an article that was pro using gender neutral terms for birth were few and far between. I always approach research from an unbiased perspective as to ensure I can create my own opinion about a situation. However this specific topic I feel as if the just opinion is the one that argues against these changes. It seems as if this progressive
attitude toward female reproduction, unintentionally harms women and children in the process. Firstly, it is “dehumanizing mothers” (Migdon). For example people are arguing that we should instead of saying “breastfeeding” we should say “lactating parent”. When researching I found that the Biden Administration decided to adopt gender neutral language when talking about pregnant women. It is great to be inclusive, but “diminishing
motherhood to ‘birthing person is simply insulting to all moms.” (Migdon). These gender neutral terms just boils a woman down her body parts, and takes away the beauty that is motherhood.
Governmental institutions are attempting to keep peace and accommodate everyone, but again in this process women have fallen short. Gender specific medicine is very important, because the genetic structure of a male and female are completely different. According to Jenny Gamble, a professo
r of midwifery at Coventry University, “Confusing the idea of gender identity and the reality of sex risks adverse health consequences and deeper and more insidious discrimination against women” (Migdon). The argument is that just because you identify one way, you should not be medically treated as if you are biologically the gender you identify. Especially
when it comes to something as dangerous as child bearing.
Speaking of the medical dangers involved, a specific instance in Australia during Covid-19 is a perfect example. To become a more inclusive country the Federal Health Department in Australia adjusted the impact guide for pregnant and breastfeeding women. They chose to take out the word “women”, and that in turn, “introduced errors into the scientific accuracy of the material in the process” (Tuohy). Due to this change to the date that centered on the effect of this disease specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding women, the data changed to “incorrectly include men” (Tuohy). This ends up creating mass confusion, and ends up negatively affecting everyone involved.
With all this in mind, it is never ok to disrespect someone’s pronouns. Everyone has the right to identify and express themselves however they see fit. It is just important to stay cognizant to cis women, and not to push these new terms on them. Out of respect for both parties involved.
Migdon, Brooke. “Experts warn gender-neutral language like ‘pregnant people’ may put mothers at risk.” The Hill, 1 February 2022, https://thehill.com/changing-america/respect/diversity-inclusion/592335-experts-warn-gender-neutral-language-like/. Accessed 8 November 2023.
Tuohy, Wendy. “Inclusive language risks ‘dehumanising women’, top researchers argue.” The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 2022, https://www.smh.com.au/national/inclusive-language-risks-dehumanising-women-top-researchers-argue-20220126-p59red.html. Accessed 8 November 2023.
Should we use the phrase “pregnant people” in order to include all different people who want to carry a baby?
Using the term “pregnant people” has been created to be more open towards all different genders who hope to carry and care for their own infants. While some whole heartily agree with this movement, others argue it denounces and belittles mothers. As one can imagine, this topic of discussion has started an uproar in our democracy.
“Pregnant people,” is now completely political, due to the fact there is truly no middle ground. The split in our country leaves no room for agreement or terms of settling on a response. Fortunately, there are many resources and outlets that inform the readers, leading them to make an educated decision on whether or not they agree with this new phrase.
An article published by, Slate “How to Think About The Debate Over The Phrase,”Pregnant people” written by Shannon Palus, has many key components to consider when debating on where you stand. For starters, Shannon Palus quotes Evan Urquhart who states, “I think we really need to dispense with the idea that trans activists, or, literally, anyone else in the world, wants women to stop referring to themselves as women. Women should be calling themselves women, they should be calling themselves mothers, they should be using any language that is comfortable for them.” This statement is truly unbiased, Urquhart is simply stating there should be no issue on what an ind
ividual wants to be referred to, as for the fact it really does not affect anyone else.
Moreover, an article posted by TCC, I work In HealthCare. Can I Call Patients ‘Pregnant People’?, Written by Shane Morris, has a completely different take on this controversy. Morris works in maternity and child health. Morris creates a more forward, harsh debate, as she states,
“There are no “pregnant people” who aren’t also women” (Morris.) From this perspective, it is uncomfortable to try to go against science and human anatomy. At the end of the day, there is really no question as to how many genders there are. Since human existence, there are only males and females, who have sex, the women becomes pregnant and carries the child to term.
Furthermore, Morris explains how lies evidently causes harm to those being lied to, “Neither does this lie love, help, or serve her unborn child, who needs a mother, not a generic, genderless birthing “person.” Finally, fellow scientists and healthcare providers aren’t loved, helped, or served by peers normalizing vague language that obscures vital facts about their professions and their patients” (Morris.)
Regardless of where you stand politically, what religion you believe, or if you even care whatsoever what we refer to as someone who is pregnant, it is overall dangerous and ignorant to think we can fight against science.
Following, articles can only be so personal, so I decided to ask my mom her opinion on this topic. My mom, Meghan, is a mother of four daughters. Overall my mom is a very laid back, truly opinionated person in regards to topics that do not affect my family and herself.
Nonetheless, I went about and questioned “Pregnant people” and what that meant to her. When I asked her how she felt about this new phrase, she expressed passion, as she stated, “That is offensive to me as a woman, women get pregnant and women give birth.
Considering getting pregnant and giving birth is the most essential act to keep the human race going, do people really feel the need to strip that away from being attributed to women?” Without getting into politics or hurting others who may disagree, my mom has clearly stated critical facts as to how she feels, as a mother herself about “Pregnant people”.
Ultimately, in spite of what you personally believe is the right response to the question, “Should we use the phrase “pregnant people” in order to include all different people who want to carry a baby?” Discrediting the women who we all owe our lives to, is taking all these new, “inclusive” terms to the extreme. In my opinion, if someone directly tells me “I would like to be referred to as a pregnant person,” I would willingly accept and do exactly that, because the goal is to never disrespect or hurt others. On the contrary, I am not going to completely reject the phrase “pregnant women” and demolish all the respect I have for those females who decide to bring new lives into the world.
Work Cited Page
Morris, Shane. “I Work in Healthcare. Can I Call Patients “Pregnant People”?” The Gospel Coalition, 29 Aug. 2023, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/patients-pregnant-people/
Palus, Shannon. “How to Think about the Debate over the Phrase “Pregnant People.”” Slate, 9 July 2022, https://slate.com/technology/2022/07/pregnant-people-inclusive-language-gender-debate.html
By Holly Novak
When you look up the word pregnancy, a photo of a woman comes up. When you think about someone who is pregnant, you would most likely refer to them as a mother or a pregnant woman. But more recently, there has been a language controversy associating the word women with pregnancy.
On one side of the argument, we should be more inclusive to people who aren’t mothers and women, but are pregnant. The term “pregnant people” gives an inclusive alternative. It’s a neutral term we can use to not exclude anyone. Trans men and other people who don’t identify as women can get pregnant. Simply by using an
exclusive term, sexism and misogyny could be reduced or eliminated. Carrie Baker in an interview with CNN says, “‘Pregnant people’ doesn’t say who we’re talking about. It makes (pregnancy) sound like it’s a gender-neutral phenomenon or a sex-neutral phenomenon,’” she goes on to say, “‘I believe that bans on abortion are motivated by sex discrimination and by bias against women and cisgender women, or just femininity.’” Men – who are politicians – that make our abortion laws are known for being inherently misogynistic. She believes that by changing the term from “women” to “people” we can reduce this misogyny and have more rights.
On the other hand, it could be argued that it discredits women and what their bodies are made to do – reproduce. It’s offensive to women to avoid calling them what they are. In an article from Slate magazine, Evan Urquhart says, “‘Hey, I don’t want to be identified by my biology. I don’t want to be called a person with a vagina,’ and that’s where they’re missing that, yeah, you are a person with a vagina, you call yourself a woman.” His point in saying this is that you have a uterus so you are a woman. We are not called people with uteruses. It’s discrediting and discriminatory to women. It’s a problem of transgender people wanting to feel included and trying to take away the word women from women.
I could find points to agree on for both sides of the argument. I think the term “pregnant people” is definitely inclusive. But again, it discredits women and what their bodies are made to do. We are mothers and that shouldn’t be taken away because certain groups of people don’t feel included. I think people should use whatever language for themselves that they feel comfortable with, but it should never be forced on anyone to use. Overall, I think I could agree with some points from each side of the argument. But ultimately, I think that the term “pregnant people” is a problem and could be offensive to women.
Kaur, Harmeet. “The language we use to talk about pregnancy and abortion is changing. But not everyone welcomes the shift.” CNN, 4 September 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/04/us/abortion-pregnant-people-women-language-wellness-cec/index.html. Accessed 7 November 2023.
Palus, Shannon. Pregnant people: What the debate around inclusive language is really about., 9 July 2022, https://slate.com/technology/2022/07/pregnant-people-inclusive-language-gender-debate.html. Accessed 7 November 2023.
There is a debate in professional culture on whether or not we should encourage English speakers with non-standard accents to seek accent reduction. There are courses and speech coaches that teach workers how to neutralize their native
or regional accents. More recently, there has been new software developed that erases native accents on telephone calls for companies who outsource their customer service call centers from foreign countries.
Critics of this industry claim that the courses and software aim to whitewash their workers and force them to assimilate. However, defenders of accent reduction say that it has made their lives much easier and they have been able to advance in their careers.
There are two main ways accent reduction is implemented in the workplace. The first is Speech synthesizer software, which neutralizes the accent of the speaker as their voice is transmitted over the telephone. One example of this software is known as Sanas’ Speech Synthesizer, which two Stanford graduates founded.
In the ABC news article, Sze explains that the two were inspired to start the company after one “was fired from his call center job for speaking with an accent and being deemed poor at communicating with customers.”
The two also wanted to create the software to keep non-native English speakers abused by customers. Most American companies outsource their call centers to countries such as India and the Philippines. The founders realized “that much of call center workers’ abuse is either tied to customers’ bias against accented English speakers, their frustration that the call is taking too long, or their inability to understand the worker on the other end.”
The benefit of this software is that it does not require that workers train to neutralize their accents, and workers do not have to change anything about the way that they speak. On the other hand, accent reduction courses are classes that workers can take that teach them how to speak with a standard English-American accent.
Unlike the software, the course teaches its students a skill that they can use when talking face-to-face with other English speakers. According to CCLS Houston, who hosts an accent reduction course for non-native speakers, claims that the benefits of taking the course are that you “Stop having to repeat yourself, open up career improvement opportunities, perform better in school, and stop being too embarrassed to speak publicly.” I asked a former classmate, who now attends the University of South Carolina, what they thought about the accent reduction courses. They replied that they were “considering taking one of the workshop classes offered at USC because [they thought] it would help [them] get a better job.”
The company, like many others, also claims that its goal is not to eradicate accents, but to simply teach people how to communicate in a professional setting. This of course usually entails teaching them how to mask their accent.
However, critics claim that both courses and language synthesizers are feeding into the problem. Ritu Bhasin, author of “The Authenticity Concept,” stated, “It horrifies me that corporations would practice other folks to anglicize their accent — that is an instantaneous reinforcement of … racism.”
The courses that teach accent reduction do not question why hiding a non-native accent improves career performance. According to a study by Jessica Spence, there is an idea that companies will not hire someone because their accent inhibits their communication skills, however, she found that job interviewers’ “ratings of each candidate’s comprehensibility (defined as how easy they were to understand) were not related to hiring decisions.”
Spence explains that her studies did find that interviewers judged based off of their candidate’s perceived social status. The study found that “candidates who spoke with non-standard accents were rated as less competent and less intelligent than candidates who spoke with standard accents.”
By encouraging people to adopt the standard English accent for career success, we are essentially telling non-native speakers that their accent is not good enough for the professional world in Western society. I do believe that we should help people who want to learn English understand the American accent and help them be more secure in using their second language.
However, I believe that by encouraging non-native speakers to take accent reduction courses or by erasing their accent over the phone, we are reinforcing negative stereotypes about non-native speakers and promoting assimilation. Even if they claim that they do not want to erase their culture, accent reduction courses are still shunning people for their uncommon cultural identity in the workplace. I asked my roommate what her thoughts were on accent reduction, and she replied, “I feel like people are bullied into changing their accents by society. Maybe people with no accents should try harder to understand everyone else.”
I believe the accent reduction industry has good intentions. It aims to help foreign English speakers become more secure in speaking with their colleagues, and help them have more success in the workplace. However, the industry fails to acknowledge the underlying societal issues that cause them to seek help in the first place. As a society, we need to stop ridiculing people who don’t speak like us, and we need to support those who take on the challenge of learning a second language.
Times are changing as newer generations slowly but surely dominate popular culture, trends, and slang. Along with new vocabulary, there has been an increase in popularity regarding pronoun usage and pronouns that deviate from the “standard” she/her or he/his and that is the use of they/them in a singular form. It’s more often used as a gender-neutral alternative since English doesn’t have an existing term for individuals who may not identify as male or female and don’t want to use the pronouns typically associated with those respectively.
While seemingly simple at first glance there is a major disconnect between generations on the use of they/them as it’s often still thought of as a word dedicated to talking about more than one person or in a plural form. However, it’s something we’ve always done either consciously or subconsciously as Kirby Conrod, a linguist at the University of Washington, provides an example for TIME magazine, “Did you see that? He or she cut me off!” in the context of driving. The point is that it’s inaccurate to say that we have always used specifically gendered pronouns when referring to individuals, especially strangers in the heat of the moment, and that it’s simply more convenient to use “they”.
There has been opposition regarding using they/them as a singular pronoun, especially as Merriam-Webster dictionary has updated the definition to include, “used with a singular antecedent to refer to an unknown or unspecified person” and “used to refer to a single person whose gender is intentionally not revealed.” This was met with various reactions from the public ranging from acceptance and happiness because of the recognition but also distaste and indignation as Jacqui Banaszynski says, “This a slippery slope to ‘anything goes.” and how even she has found herself struggling with the clarity of “they/them” in both speech and more so in texts. However, she also acknowledges that it is possible and she goes on to praise a story in the New York Times Magazine that provided context and clarity with the use of pronouns. In this case, I think it not only depends on the skill of the author but also how up-to-date the individual reading is and the confusion can be addressed by providing context and other aids, especially if the audience is as diverse as the New York Times readers.
I believe the controversy in this conversation lies in the fact the topic of pronouns, gender, and sexuality has become politically charged whereas if we left it as simply a matter of language and preference. Language holds a lot of power and many individuals already identify with they/them pronouns so I think an alternative is unlikely. Furthermore, if “they/them” has the issues it does now regarding the confusion and lack of widespread use, I don’t think an alternative will fix this but instead make it worse.
Banaszynski, Jacqui, and Jacqui Banaszynski. “What to Do When Pronouns Can Confuse.” Nieman Storyboard, 29 June 2023, niemanstoryboard.org/stories/language- precision-pronouns-inclusivity/.
Steinmetz, Katy. “Why Singular ‘they’ Is a Controversial Subject.” Time, Time, 13 Dec. 2019, time.com/5748649/word-of-year-they-merriam-webster/.
The use of Latinx as the term for a gender-neutral person of Latin American origin has been controversial for many reasons. Firstly, it is believed to mainly apply to English speakers, specifically American, because it does not use the Spanish speaking rule when a word is gender-neutral to use the letter “e” instead of “o” or “a”. This can be seen as controversial because of its use in Latin American countries, where they may find it a lot more difficult to say because Latinx does not correlate well to the Spanish language. On the other hand, progressives have embraced this word because of its easy use of identifying a gender-neutral person, as well as the use of opting out of the gender binary by speakers easily. These reasons have helped keep Latinx afloat while many people on the other side of this issue try to take it down and replace it with a more optimal alternative. In my opinion, Latine is a better alternative to this problem, and the word should be changed to this. However, I would want people to use either one that they want and have that help them understand which word they like to use better so that they can make an educated decision.
To get a better perspective, I asked a classmate in my philosophy class about the issue, asking “what do you see as the best solution to the problem regarding the word Latinx?” He stated, “Any word can work as long as enough people use it and say it’s cool, so we just need enough people to do that and Latinx can work as the word.” I found this point to be very interesting because it changed my perspective on this issue. I started to wonder if it truly was that simple, and we could just make the word latinx cool. If you think about it, we have made other words cool before and started to use them, such as “yo.” The word yo “came from a Neapolitan word for “boy”: guaglione, pronounced “gwahl-YO-nay” which often got shortened to yo.” After this, the word gradually evolved into what it is today, as a common phrase to greet someone or just shout in general. If we could evolve the word Latinx like we evolved yo, we can solve this issue for good. The only problem with this solution is the fact that we must first depoliticize the word Latinx to insure there is not still an argument against it that is political in any way, as that will probably take the word down for good.