By Linda Nidiffer
All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
This week I have been musing about contradicting rules. We have all learned some of them. For example, “i before e except. . .” Words have meaning unless through usage the meaning changes. For example, gay meaning happy and cheerful and what it has come to mean today. Language is a living breathing organ and changes all of the time which is why spell check and grammar check are hard wired into word processing programs. Heaven help you if you want to use an indiscriminate “i” somewhere in your text!How would e.e.cummings ever be able to write poetry in this era?
My cogitations were centered on pronouns. I hope that I don’t become obsessed and that I can quit thinking about them after a week. One year I pondered scatological words and phrases and since this is a family friendly paper I won’t divulge what that was all about. I learned this week that pesky noun replacements have become a controversial issue and that people are losing their jobs if they can’t figure out which pronouns to use. I am not kidding you. If you call a person a she when the person identifies as a he you can lose your job at an Ivy League school. If it can happen at an Ivy it will happen elsewhere.
I am reminded of the time that I tried to teach twin boys possessive forms of personal pronouns. They couldn’t understand the concept of mine. It was always ours. As a new teacher that one had me stumped for a minute and then it came to me. “Meet me after school for a quick tutoring. I’ll fix it with the coach.” The lesson was down and dirty. “I know that you two share everything including a brain, but what will happen when one of you has a girlfriend and the other doesn’t? Will she be our girlfriend or my girlfriend?” That shifted their thinking.
Do we really need to shift our thinking when it comes to pronouns?
I understand that our LGBTQ population has a right to lead their best lives with all of their rights and freedoms. I get it. I really do. A hundred years ago someone told me that gender was not found below the waist it was found between the ears. We have three transgender people in our extended family. Genetic testing has been done and sure enough there is a mutation. Doesn’t matter, we love them because they are ours and I am glad they figured it out. Once they told me what they wanted to be called I do my best to remember, but I’m old and still remember the day they were born.
Just tell me what you want and I will do my best to respect your wishes but don’t be surprised when I yell out, “Hey, you with the face!” That is my go to when I can’t remember a student’s name. It worked every time. Now it would be called disrespectful. I still haven’t figured out the pronoun usage for non-binary people. You? They? Ugh! More pondering in sight; I hope this doesn’t last too long.