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Inclusive Language and American Spellings

These days students are excpected to use inclusive language in their essays; this is a good thing.  The reality is though, that this is never as easy as people think it should be, and the loudest voices in favour of its use seem to come from quarters which replace one form of exclusion with another...

I am currently reading a book on a 'holistic theology of the atonement' written 15 years ago that refers to single human beings exclusively as 'he' and a book on practical theology written last year that exclusively uses 'she'.  The oft used argument that using 'she' language redresses the balance is not good enough - exclusion is exclusion however you dress it up.

English as a language does not really help much, there is no gender-neutral alternative; you could hardly use 'it' to describe a person could you?!  I'm not a great fan of alternating male/female pronouns but at least they make an effort in the right direction.  My undergraduate essays often opted for s/he on the basis that it only counts as one word and I guess it is a bit less clumsy than repeatedly saying 'he or she' or 'she or he' (and avoids any read in/out hierarchy) but it is not very elegant.  I also got quite good at ordering sentences to avoid the use of pronouns, but is that a cop out?


The other thing that I notice is the increase in British authors using American spellings.  Why is this?  When did the USA become normative for 'English' at least as it is written in the UK?  I accept that when I cite USA writers I need to use their spellings, but it grates more than somewhat when British authors no longer use 'British English.'  I'm not just referring to the use of 'z' rather than 's' (which apparently reflects older British English forms) but the absence of doubled consonants in verbal endings and use of 'inquire' to mean 'enquire' etc.  Are we ashamed of our own version?  Or is the quest for sales across the pond the altar on which we sacrifice our spellings and grammar?


The words we use are important, and maybe I'm just turning into my mother who was always hot on grammar and spelling, but I do lament what I see as the decline of written English.


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