Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Language that Includes

I was trying to draft some sort of a statement that didn't come across as militant but expressed the bottom line of the issue.  Here's my first draft. What do you think?
Sometimes we use language that we do not realize makes others feel like outsiders. Ironically, we can do this when we are actually trying to reach a group that is in the minority or is not dominant in our context. We can do this in our language when we only use illustrations about how “he” does something. I may not only have men in mind, but many at this point of history will hear it that way. In the spirit of not wanting to put any stumbling block in the way of the good news, we should strive to speak and write in such a way as to include everyone we mean to include and speak with a clear voice. If we mean both men and women in what we are saying, then we should consciously include both in our language. If we mean to say that a less dominant group is included, then we should say “we” instead of “they.”


John C. Gardner said...

This is absolutely true. Inclusive language in speaking to all in a group is mandatory today and should be used without exception.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I don't think that inclusive language does anything but hide "real issues", which are self interests and values. All humans are self interested, and it is why the Founders set out to define a government that didn't allow one to usurp the right of another, as to life, liberty and property.

(Today, though, we have culture wars over who is going to define life and liberty; science or religion)

Inclusive language is "humanity" or "humankind", but such language can't even be understood without context...and context is where groups identifications lie.

Are individuals defined by groups, or does the individual choose what groups will define them, when they become adults? That is the question of "liberty of conscience" and "liberty" itself as to self-chosen values!

Inclusion is just a way to use language to appeal to "all" so that they can be "CONFORMED" to a particular defintion or interests/goals! Why not allow individuals theliberty to choose for themselves?

JohnM said...

"If we mean both men and women in what we are saying, then we should consciously include both in our language" - Does "both" mean kludgy "he or she" type phrases or just neutral terms like 'people'?

Where truly no distinction is intended or applicable just use terms that inherently make no distinction.

Be natural about it. Remember, when we're trying too hard it's obvious - including to the very audience we're trying to reach.

Ken Schenck said...

It can be as simple as varying between who you use in an example. It can be a switch to plural. I rarely say "he or she."