22 November 2014

Personpower! (They let me off my leash again…)

by Melodie Campbell

Apparently, the current hot project for Those Who Don’t Have Enough To Do At City Hall, is making our language completely gender-neutral.  “Harbourmaster” is the latest word to fall under the gender axe.  While I wouldn’t dream of suggesting “Harbour Mistress” (this is a family column) I am not so sure about HarbourPerson either.

No doubt about it, that man in “woman” has got to go.  Probably the first place to be hit will be public washrooms.  Better get used to “Persons” and WoPersons”.

If that isn’t confusing enough, imagine what is going to happen to all of our great tunes?  Are we really going to be singing along to “Hey Mr/Ms Tambourine Person”?  Frankly, “When a Person…loves a Person” just doesn’t do it for me.  “I’m a Solitary Person” might squeak by, but “Pretty Person” doesn’t have a chance.

Not to mention the effect this will have on our great literature.  Hemingway will have won the Pulitzer for “The Old Person and the Sea.”  “Little Persons” will be read by persons of gender everywhere, and “The Person of LaMancha” may sweep Broadway.  My own personal <sic> favourite has got to be Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Persons.”

All this could result in a new branch of philology, with its own name, of course – SEpersonTICS…and since my Canadian government is so insistent on being politically correct, surely Winnipeg deserves to reside in “Personitoba?”

You see, the problem is personifold.  You can’t just draw the line here.  ALL things must be included and made equal.

It’s simple, when you get the hang of it.  Fireplaces will have persontels, the rich can live in personsions, and those of us with long fingernails can go for personicures.  “Manuella” may not be too happy about becoming Personuella, but what the heck.  We’ve got a persondate.


(This is a leash-free day, so go for it, and add your own gender-free word changes in the comments.)

When she is not cracking the whip as Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada, Melodie Campbell spends her time writing funny novels like The Artful Goddaughter, for Orca Books.

25 comments:

Leigh Lundin said...

Funny as always, Melodie, but underneath the humour, your articles often carry a deeper, serious thread for readers to think about. Well done, woma…, er, you fema…, uh, girl thing, you!

Leigh Lundin said...

Melodie, I'm worried about proper names, for example the name Herman.

Fran Rizer said...

Melodie, you've ruined my writing for today. All I'll think about is gender, Then again, that might improve the writing.

You mentioned you had a book trailer that was on USA Today. I went to YouTube and saw several videos of yours. Please tell me the one that you spoke of. I want to see it. My publisher didn't do mine for the Christmas Callie. A friend and I did. We're working on one for the thriller coming out in January.

Melodie Campbell said...

Leigh, thank you . Yes, there is a deeper thread, and I do wonder how insidious it is. Hard to measure the things we've seen forever and thus taken for granted. Did the fact that the head of a board was always called Chairman keep some girls from ever thinking they could aspire to that role?

Melodie Campbell said...

Fran - SEVERAL?? There is one for Rowena Through the Wall, and one for A Purse to Die For. Yet I have been told that some college students had created trailers of my books as school projects. Let me check the tube. And thanks for letting me know!

Anonymous said...

wow! You are the only Per-daughter (!!!!!!!) - how'm I doin', Ma -- on the planet who can make me hee-haw before I;ve had my AM cuppa!!!! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

Melodie Campbell said...

Fran, here is the trailer for Rowena Through the Wall, the one that was featured. They particularly loved the original music (and so do I - it's a perfect fit for the book).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pJCwQF1rXg

Melodie Campbell said...

Thelma, you always make me smile! Thank you!

David Dean said...

Personally, Melodie, I'm always pleased when govt. takes its valuable time to steer me in the right direction. With gentle persuasion, the govt. steers me clear of every imaginary shoal and breaker--newspeak is goodspeak; right words make right thoughts. Now be a good person and stop making fun.

Eve Fisher said...

Melodie, there's a great line in Rex Stout's "Gambit" where Archie tells Nero Wolfe about a gender point made by a character named Sylvia Venner: "Men make women say 'piss' and 'pee' when they urinate because 'penis' begins with p, and what if THEY made THEM say 'viss' and 'vee'? Vagina. And she said it's male chauvinism. Doesn't that exhibit her?" But instead of blowing Archie and Ms. Venner off, Nero Wolfe is actually interested: "The issue is the influence of male dominance on language. Has that woman made a contribution to the study of linguistics?..." (You could look it up - pp. 90-91)

John Floyd said...

It would seem that this kind of language--propping your feet up on an ottoperson, let's say, or sticking your head in a personhole--could make things sound even LESS politically correct. What's a person to do??

Melodie Campbell said...

Eve, I will definitely look that up! Thanks!

Melodie Campbell said...

John, you cover my ambivalence perfectly!
David, I can't stop. It keeps me sane (although some would question that...) Which reminds me of another post, coming up soon :)

Herschel Cozine said...

The Person of La Personcha strikes a chord, wouldn't you agree?

Peter DiChellis said...

Your posts are always hysterical. But what I fear has been lost in the gender neutral debate is the "son" in person is not gender neutral.

May I humbly suggest the term "per-neut" (though without the hypen) as a truly neutral term?

Friends, Roperneuts, countryperneuts, lend me your ears.

R.T. Lawton said...

Melodie, a good laugh as always. Sorry I missed meeting you at Bouchercon.

Dixon Hill said...

Combining the comments of Eve, John and Peter, I’d like to suggest we stick our heads in verneutholes, that we V-inate to empty our bladders -- and that we rest our feet on Ancient Turks, since that’s what Ottomans seem to be anyway. LOL

Melodie Campbell said...

Herschell, you win! (Although I really think you are going to have to change your name...Her/Him...)

Melodie Campbell said...

Laff! Oh no, Peter - YOU win!
Roperneuts...we are digressing into truly obscure, elitist and delightful territory.

Melodie Campbell said...

Dixon...Ottomans...Ancient Turks...hyperventilating. Gasping for air. (Help, and what have I started)

Melodie Campbell said...

R.T. - were you there?? HOW did I miss you? Met up with Rob, Eve, Steve and Brian. Dang it. Next year for sure...

Herschel Cozine said...

Let's take this up another level. Who wrote Moby Dick?

Personperson Melville.

OK. I'm through

Melodie Campbell said...

Herschell, you have the final word. Just lovely.

C.S.Poulsen said...

At first I experienced peri-MENapause. Then, MENapause. But in my sixties, everyone grates my nerves. Is it time for personapause?

Melodie Campbell said...

Oooh...very good CS! And to think I have that to look forward to...