Sunday, February 28, 2016

"'Warning! Man-eating Tiger!'"

G. P. Sanderson, Thirteen years among
the wild beasts of India,
7th ed. (1912)
"It makes no sense to suppose that someone might awake one morning and be struck silent by the realization, 'We’ve lost the word for generic human being.' When speakers behave as if a word were lost, when in reality it is still current, linguistic stress results, and this stress manifests itself in their speech as clearly as a man trying to avoid the cracks in the sidewalk displays his neurosis in his gait. . . .  [T]he circumlocutions catalogued above point to an ideologically potent taboo, in its operation no different from parlor games in which the players handicap each other by, for example, forbidding words beginning with the letter 'b.'"

     Paul Mankowski, S.J., "The necessary failure of inclusive-language translations:  a linguistic elucidation," The Thomist 62 (1998):  449-450 (445-468).  A reprint of this article can be found at Touchstone.

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