April 3 2017
Campus Reform reports that a student at Northern Arizona University has lost one point on a paper by using the word "mankind" instead of a politically correct term for humanity:
Cailin Jeffers, an English major at NAU, told Campus Reform that she received an email from one of her professors, Dr. Anne Scott, informing her that she had been docked one point out of a possible 50 on a recent paper for “problems with diction (word choice)” related to her use of the word “mankind” as a synonym for “humanity.”
"I would be negligent, as a professor who is running a class about the human condition and the assumptions we make about being ‘human,’ if I did not also raise this issue of gendered language and ask my students to respect the need for gender-neutral language,” Scott explained. “The words we use matter very much, or else teachers would not be making an issue of this at all, and the MLA would not be making recommendations for gender-neutral language at the national level.”
Scott then offered to let Jeffers revise the paper to earn additional points in five categories, including diction, but noted that she is under no obligation to do so.
“I will respect your choice to leave your diction choices ‘as is’ and to make whatever political and linguistic statement you want to make by doing so,” the professor wrote. “By the same token, I will still need to subtract a point because your choice will not be made in the letter or spirit of this particular class, which is all about having you and other students looking beneath your assumptions and understanding that ‘mankind’ does not mean ‘all people’ to all people. It positively does not.”
I hope Ms. Jeffers refused to buckle to the PC cop. What's a point when you're standing up for mankind?
Meanwhile, Campus Reform reports in another story that Sarah Lawrence has rewritten grammar texts and is now demanding gender-approved wording and usages, even if grammatically incorrect. Including my favorite, the use of a plural pronoun to refer to a singular antecedent in order to avoid his or her:
The guidelines go on to suggest the usage of “plural non-gendered pronouns to replace singular gendered pronouns,” even while acknowledging that the technique is “grammatically incorrect,” explaining that “when absolutely unavoidable” the “exception” can be acknowledged “in the note recommended above.”
Meanwhile, the “recommended guidelines” suggest avoiding “conditional sentences introduced by if or when,” because such sentences often “require the use of pronouns.”
The guide concludes with a list of “gendered words” to avoid “by using substitutes instead,” suggesting, for example, terms such as “kinship” or “solidarity” in place of “brotherhood,” and neutral phrases like “nurturing” or “fostering” instead of “fathering” and “mothering.”
Finally, Sarah Lawrence discourages the use of “language referring to sexual orientation,” noting that “orientation” should always be used in place of “preference.”
I guess you shouldn't go to Sarah Lawrence if your preference is good grammar.