In which we blog about the marvellous intricacies of writing and editing.

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Man Words: Round 1

Editors and writers who have to make choices about the use of sexist or gender-biased language (and I'd guess that's pretty much all of us) might be interested to read the Twitter replies I got to a question about the acceptability of 'mankind' and 'man hours', collected below (via Storify). I predicted a landslide win for the 'Change both' contingent, and I was broadly right, although one editor did vote for leaving both in most cases, and another said she'd be happy to leave 'mankind'. 'Mankind', of course, can be replaced by 'humankind' and 'man hours' can become 'person hours'; both are straightforward changes, if you choose to make them. But not all 'man' words are so easily transformed, and I would expect more support for keeping terms such as 'craftsmanship' and 'workmanship' – the two words that I'll be looking at in my next post. Tune in to see what Twitter thinks, or, better yet, join the ranks of those kind enough to answer incredibly specific calls for opinions and tweet your own response.

Interested readers can find out more about 'masculine generics' such as 'mankind', and the main arguments for abolishing them, in an excellent paper by the psychology and philosophy researcher Brian D. Earp called "The Extinction of Masculine Generics", available here.

(If you can't see anything below, you can also find the Storify here.)

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