Thursday, June 11, 2009
There are moments in our lives, perhaps when reading a book or when talking to someone or even when in thought, when we go "aha!". A moment that fundamentally alters our vision, our carefully constructed world-views, and perhaps even our calling in life. A moment in which our consciousness is raised.
Words are especial transport vehicles for such moments. Simple substitutions in everyday phrases can add a wealth of information to common understanding. An example of that was in the '70s and '80s, when feminists consistently challenged the phrase "one man, one vote" and successfully substituted it with "one person, one vote". Such a simple change can carry an important social message. If "man" in the former phrase is meant to represent an adult of the human species, then using "person" is more precise and inclusive, and is less misogynistic in usage. Importantly, when people start watching their phraseology deliberately to avoid any unintended misogynistic connotations, the consciousness of both the speaker and the listener is enriched.