What hath those gawd awful, prissy panderers to political correctness wrought?

When you work with words, you want your words to work, to have specific meanings, to convey specificity and not some vague, broad brushstrokes of impressionism.

I still balk at the use of Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss — though I actually prefer the AP Stylebook guideline of using no honorifics at all.

Now along comes the genderless Mx. — reportedly pronounced “mix” — which is supposed to be used for those who pretend to forgo any gender at all. 

The stuffed shirts at The New York Times used the aspecific honorific in a story about a person — Is using the term person too specific and presumptuous? — in a Nov. 25 story, referring to Senia Hardwick on second reference as Mx. Hardwick. The Times also has a piece explaining the origin of the label Ms., which apparently was coined way back in 1901 by a lazy writer who wished to avoid having to ask about marital status. Back in June the Gray Lady introduced us to the origin of Mx.

“There is a void in the English language which, with some diffidence, we undertake to fill,” the writer stated, according to the NYT, in a most politically incorrect fashion. “Every one has been put in an embarrassing position by ignorance of the status of some woman. To call a maiden Mrs. is only a shade worse than to insult a matron with the inferior title Miss. Yet it is not always easy to know the facts.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, apparently the Washington Post style guru Bill Walsh has thrown in the towel and given the green light to using the plural third person pronoun “they” in place of “he” or “she.”

Poynter snagged this excerpt from a Post newsroom memo:

“It is usually possible, and preferable, to recast sentences as plural to avoid both the sexist and antiquated universal default to male pronouns and the awkward use of he or she, him or her and the like: All students must complete their homework, not Each student must complete his or her homework.

“When such a rewrite is impossible or hopelessly awkward, however, what is known as ‘the singular they’ is permissible: Everyone has their own opinion about the traditional grammar rule. The singular they is also useful in references to people who identify as neither male nor female.”

Apparently Walsh has been leaning this way for sometime. In November 2013 he answered a query about the use of the singular they thusly: “It’s natural, and well established in speech and informal writing, to use what we geeks call ‘the singular they’ in such cases. Each student should bring their book.

“For now, at least, that looks wrong to enough people that it might not be a great idea in more formal writing, but I’d wave a magic wand to make it uncontroversial if I could. The once-standard default to masculine looks sexist. The affirmative-action default to feminine looks patronizing. Alternating the two is silly and confusing. Inventing a new word isn’t going to happen (stop trying to make it happen!).”

I think Mx. is new, though not a word. Perhaps it would be less affirmatively human-centric if writers just opted for the pronouns “it,” “them” and “those.”


Don’t call it Ms. (NYT photo)





23 comments on “What hath those gawd awful, prissy panderers to political correctness wrought?

  1. nyp says:

    Today’s Second Amendment moment: 12 people reportedly shot dead in San Bernardino.

  2. Steve says:

    “Today’s Second Amendment moment:”

    Islamist extremist moment

    There, fixed it for you, nyp.

  3. nyp says:

    I am so scared of those Syrian refugee families. What if they have guns?

  4. Steve says:

    “I am so scared of those Syrian refugee families.”

    I never claimed they were refugees…in fact the US has admitted, to date, only about a thousand of them.
    You are welcome to be scared of ghosts all you like.

    I still fixed it for you, nyp.

  5. nyp says:

    I guess you have decided not to continue making jokes about the murder of a police officer in Colorado.

  6. nyp says:

    Yesterday, U.S. House blocked bill to bar gun sales to those on the government’s no-fly list.

  7. Steve says:

    You still refuse to acknowledge the other two lives lost there.

    Guess only “blue” life matters in your world.

  8. nyp says:

    Now 14 dead.

  9. Steve says:

    I read 20. (early reports are not reliable.)
    Swat was training about a block away and was on scene in less than a minute. Still, the three perps have managed to disappear. San Bernadino is in lock down.

    “Long rifles” were used by three people in black “military style” clothing, an eyewitness told CBS news.

    Several publicly traded gun manufacturer stocks have climbed, coincidentally just after the reports. (Though one closed the day down)

  10. nyp says:

    If only those disabled people at the disability center had been packing heat ….

  11. Steve says:

    Sarcasm doesn’t become you.

    Stick to cynicism.

  12. nyp says:

    The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good developmentally disabled guy with a gun.

  13. Steve says:

    A well armed people are a polite people.

  14. nyp says:

    very polite in that center for developmentally disabled people today.

  15. Steve says:

    Farooq Saeed

    Just your average non Islamic name.

  16. Steve says:

    More speculation.

    An argument at that very holiday party. One of the attendee’s may have left after the argument and returned with two other people….ready to kill.

  17. Steve says:

    Tashfeen Malik

    Citizen of Qatar….

    Radical Islamic Extremism Event, nyp.

  18. Hmmmm…the little nyper seems to have disappeared. The facts didn’t fit his pre-conceived notions and template…

  19. Steve says:

    Hit’n run jumps to conclusions on a regular basis.

    Remember “The Phantom Tollbooth” ? Nyp’s swimming back from the island now.

  20. Anonymous says:

    What should be done to keep such people from obtaining assault weaponry?

  21. Steve says:

    “such people”

    Going “anon” and can’t say “such people” are, ISLAMIC EXTREMEISTS. There, fixed it again for you.

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