Many Linguists argue that the way we use language is sexist. What evidence is there for this and do you agree?

Essay by xHMxHigh School, 12th grade November 2004

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The many linguists that argue that the way we use language is sexist are mostly feminists. They suggest that many English words have become outdated. More and more people have come to sympathise with this view and they try to use gender neutral language. To truly determine whether or not language is sexist you must look back at the origins of our language.

Like all other languages, English is constantly changing. These changes are due to our male-centred, patriarchal society. Many originally gender neutral words have been assigned masculine meanings, these reflect the prejudices of our society. Examples of language change include the word 'Man.' This word once was the generic word for the human race, now its meaning has been narrowed to mean only adult males. The Old English word for an adult male was waepman and the word for an adult woman was wifman. Man eventually stopped being used to refer to individual women but continued to be used as the generic word for both sexes.

When linguist refer to man as being a false generic they are wrong in my opinion. Man is only false when used to name males.

Due to the society using man to mean male, we over use the pronoun 'he.' Whenever we don't know someone's sex we assume they are a he, especially when they are in a job we connect with masculinity. Most people assume doctors, and teachers. Modern job titles have been changed so they can not be deemed as being sexist. Many job titles have a -man ending. The simple solution to making job titles less sexist is to substitute -man with -person. So chairman becomes chairperson. Another alternative is just simply chair.

When we do not know someone's sex we refer to them as he. We do...