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Language and Gender Problem


My dictum that languages are the curse of mankind is amply illustrated in Europe, which is thereby tongue-tied. English has the advantage of a simple grammar and the neutrality of nouns. All the other langages are struggling with the problem of what to do when women take jobs traditionally held by men. The word for minister is a case in point. Elizabeth Guigou, French justice minister and an active feminist, insists on being called "Madame la Ministre," but it is not certain that male chauvinists will concede the point. The French Academy is arguing about it, or should it be "are," which would be British usage.

Ronald Hilton - 11/27/98


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