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Blessings to you Heather my neighbor on this rock! I tried to explain this EXACT discussion with an interviewee and it (because I am still not sure what it was) told me I was transphobic-I was stunned! I am a biologist/farmer/rancher/artist and an endangered specimen-a 67 year old white woman! No one seems to remember that we-single white women- had no rights up until the mid-70's... and then it took years! Where is this all going?-worse, the mess it will make before it ends up there! Keep it up-you are a treasure! Keep the language real-maybe I'll make bumper stickers.... right next to "my cows are vegan!"

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Thank you my fellow rock-dwelling neighbor! What a lovely green and thriving rock it is, and how tragic that some would have us burn it all to the ground in the name of equity.

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 15, 2023

Equity and freedom are mutually exclusive. One can not be an equityphile without being libertyphobic. Hey, if they can make up words, so can I. People of word manipulation have made the choice that their dictates trump our freedom. They can’t pretend it can be both ways. Madison had it figured out over two centuries ago in Federalist 10: “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it would not be a less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.” He also made the point that a person naturally has a different ability, work ethic, and yes, advantage of birth from others, whereby inequality of outcome is the unavoidable result. Deal with it, people of tyranny.

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 14, 2023

"Women had no rights before the '70's" You seriously believe that? Women had the vote for half a century and oral birth control for at least a decade. They were given special dispensation in divorce for longer than that. Would you care to defend/clarify that comment?

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Women always had rights, but were "people experiencing actions of oppression from governments comprised of people experiencing desires of control".

See how easy?

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I have had a few days to think about this. Government cannot grant "rights". It can only take them away. What I saw happen in the late '60's was not a granting of rights to women that they did not enjoy, but rather and end to expectations. Like a woman should aspire to motherhood. That a woman would put her family's welfare over her own. That a "good woman" is a good wife. Chastity. Modesty. All expectations that have fallen by the way. And 50 years later, women seem no better off, no happier. 50 years ago, no adolescent girls came out as "trans" and mutilated their bodies for acceptance and celebration.

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We really need a laugh emoji.

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In 1970 I went to the bank to inquire into what it would take to buy a small piece of land. I was not after a loan, just information. The manager insisted on speaking to my husband. Yes we had rights but they were far from complete.

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Considering that sodomy was still a felony in some states in 1970, your being considered less worthy of speaking to by a bank doesn't impress me. If you had walked in with a female partner in 1970 you would have gotten the bum's rush. THAT would be worthy of complaining about 50 years later.

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I was not complaining, just painting the picture.

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Caught myself laughing out loud reading this. I am a unreconstructed "grammar Nazi" and have been known to take issue with how ideas are expressed before taking issue with the ideas, if ever. I can't get over the suspicion that this whole "pronoun controversy" is to confuse the issue rather than clarify it. The "trans mania" that western societies are going through is a completely self-inflicted problem. Allow men who get sexual arousal from dressing as women to demand that we treat them like women and see if their numbers don't explode. Take troubled and insecure young women and tell them that the route to acceptance and celebration is to mutilate their bodies and see if THEIR numbers don't explode. "Divide and conquer" comes from Machiaveli. "Diversity is strength" comes from his spiritual heirs. It is still a means of control.

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The motto “Divide and conquer “ is older than Niccolò Machiavelli , going back to the 4th century bce when first attributed to Phillip II of Macedon . Not sure what Niccolò has to do with the notion of “Diversity is strength “.

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 14, 2023

That's just the earliest that I know about. The diversity comment should be self explanatory. It is of a class with "War is peace" and all the rest of Newspeak from "1984". Diversity is the mantra by which those who would control us keep us intolerant of the others. No diverse society has ever been peaceful except when that tolerance has been imposed by force. Look at the former Yugoslavia. As soon as Tito died, the diverse ethnicities began conflicts between themselves. America and Canada are nations of immigrants that only thrived by encouraging the immigrants to adopt the prevalent culture and both have suffered by coming to believe that such encouragement is "racist" or worse.

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"unreconstructed grammar Nazi"

...for-most-of-us-implicit set of rules...

Here is Heather daring to hyphenate an adjectival (?) phrase before a noun while still staying afloat in evolutionary biology. I like people who know how to use their language!

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"I am a person of surprise" 😆😆 your literary use of satire is excellent.

Also, "Maintaining uncertainty is a hallmark of wisdom." This. So much this. We are seeing less and less of this kind of humility to rapidly changing culture and it's so sad. As an evolutionary biologist, why do you think our ever- growing ego's haven't found the psychological balance that's conducive to being more beneficial? As a layman I'd say because we haven't encountered the full breadth of what makes the unfavorable go by the wayside.. Yet. Yikes.

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 14, 2023

I think the quest for "certainty" in our lives is mistaken and ultimately meaningless. Not only is uncertainty unavoidable, it adds a bit of spice to life.

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Dear Heather,

Thank you always for your thoughtful writing! I am always edified by your words and grateful for your perspectives. I’d like to propose that adjective order has something to do with permanence vs. impermanence, where more permanent descriptors are set closer to the noun in question. For example, antique velvet couch - the couch was always velvet (presumably) but at one point it was a new velvet couch. It’s age is ever-changing, while it’s material makeup is constant. I think this applies for all examples. If someone has a better explanation I’ll happily concede! Thanks again for all you do!

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 14, 2023

American English is a source of confusion, especially among speakers for whom it is not the birth tongue. I think it behooves all of us to push the boundaries and keep this living language alive!

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"for whom"... /duck Love your comments but as long as we are being grammar Nazis...

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Grammar Nazi does not mean a great mastery of grammar, unfortunately.

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As an expat British Columbian, I’m pretty embarrassed at the state of my homeland.

“Using person-first language helps to not define people by just one of their characteristics” is a weird statement to make, considering the majority of the groups behind language-policing tend to put the most emphasis on characteristics such as race and gender identity as literally the most interesting thing about them.

And Considering it sounds like a lot of this language revolves around the gender movement, I’m curious what they feel we should say in lieu of “transgender people/community”?

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Great piece Heather! And I noticed Robert Malone MD has shared it with his Substack audience. Both of these things make me a person of gratefulness. 😉 #defundthelanguagepolice #wordsaladgonemad

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I think you are missing something by focusing on a snapshot in time. This control of language is a power play. The progresses find something presently normalized and decide that by planting the victimhood flag, and forwarding a new label. They imply that our less than eager embrace of this new labels means we are bad, and thus they are good. They get to claim a moral advantage even if nothing actually positive was accomplished.

This is just a different flavor of the "made you look" game.

Don't worry though as soon as we toss out garbage man and get comfortable with sanitation engineer, the next human rights activist will again claim a dubious moral high ground by changing the label again.

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This is a nitpick but

> Pronouns are about sex, not gender.

Isn't quite right. I get what you mean; if gender is the hardware and gender is the software, then pronouns are not about the software. But they aren't really about the hardware either. Language has it's own rules, correlated to but not determined by the realities it models.

"Gender" in the old school sense is a grammatical concept, and it is *exactly* what pronouns are about. In English, grammatical and "natural" gender match pretty strongly. Yet even in English, ships can be "she". But my favourite example is that JK Rowling is a "she" while Robert Galbraith is a "he" -- even though they are the same person.

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Toad Worrier - did you mean "if sex is the hardware and gender is the software" - which I believe is what Heather has said in the past. . . . just curious.

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Yes, I was alluding to Heather's system of definitions there. But language is all about gender in the older sense that I allude to in my second para.

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 14, 2023

We Germans of stupidity are topping it off. On educational pages for kids provided by public broadcasting services (e.g.: https://www.kindernetz.de/wissen/rosa-parks-102.html) we learn about "Schwarze Menschen of Color" (i.e., "black people of color"; nobody dares to translate "of color"). Yes, we always capitalize nouns (Menschen/People) but the capitalization of adjectives is pure virtue signalling, and gramatically wrong. To emphasize the contrast, whites ("weiße") are not capitalized (again, grammatically wrong, because this is an adjective promoted to noun) but italicized.

Note also the "Schwarze Taxifahrer of Color" (Black taxi drivers of Color).

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If seen art museums in the States begin to capital white as well. It's grammatically wrong, just like capitalizing black. I wonder...when you capitalize white, who not take both color descriptors back to the lowercase? What's next, all caps? 😂

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> nobody dares to translate "of color"

I would be delighted to be called a "Farbenmench". I might have to buy Joseph's coat to celebrate.

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The German wokeria is quite fond of the adjective "bunt", which does not have an exact translation into English. "Colorful" does not seem correct to me, because if I understand correctly, a thing might be single-colored and yet colorful. "multicolored" is an option, but too technical to capture the resonating joyfulness (let's call it unicornity) of "bunt". The majority of translations seems to go with "of many colors" for Joseph's coat...

https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Genesis%2037%3A3

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"Bunt" is a nice word, especially for Joseph's coat.nmy Toddler uses "colourful" for this, but as you say the meaning is not quite right.

But "Person of Colour" transliterates quite nicely into "Farbenmensch", though I am sure that is not what people actually say.

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Well, "Farbenmensch" is a concatenation of two nouns, and can therefore have several meanings. For example, it might refer to a person who likes colors, or to a person who works with colors (a painter, say). A better translation of "person of color" would be "farbiger Mensch" (adjective + noun), but "farbig" has been declared discriminatory (similar to "colored" in English). For example, that's what state media say (https://www.zdf.de/kinder/logo/sprache-gegen-rassismus-100.html; strange argument: everybody is "farbig", but not everybody seems to be "of color"):

Den Begriff "farbig" sollte man laut den Expertinnen und Experten nicht verwenden. Denn diesen Begriff haben sich Schwarze Menschen nicht selbst ausgesucht. Er ist in einer Zeit entstanden, in der Weiße Schwarze unterdrückt und ausgebeutet haben: zur Zeit des Kolonialismus. Viele Schwarze finden es deshalb nicht gut, wenn sie so genannt werden. Außerdem sagen sie, dass jeder Mensch "farbig" ist. Niemand hat keine Farbe.

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You are of course grammatically right. Though German is so wonderfully fond of compound words that I still feel that's the nicest way to go.

I have some sympathy for "Niemand hat keine Farbe" as an argument. Both "coloured person" and "person of colour" are silly terms and it is completely arbitrary that one is PC and the other is hate speech.

When I was a child first hearing about "coloured people" I was hoping to see folk walking around with tartan skin. Bunte Menschen indeed.

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Welp. You just got a new paid subscriber.

“new modernizing legislation to correct outdated language by amending more than 2,300 instances of outdated gendered and binary terms from 21 ministries across 210 provincial statutes.”

Let me say it plain: Fuck. That.

Scary scary scary.

Relevant: https://michaelmohr.substack.com/p/george-orwells-politics-and-the-english

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When I was teaching English as a second language, the guide for adjective order was the general to the specific. 'The big, red, council bus.' There are fewer options for size than colour, then fewer option for colour than ownership of the bus. As with most aspects of English grammar, this is a guide rather than a prescriptive rule.

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Stanford wisely avoided tackling the dreaded dangling preposition.

That is something for which we should all be grateful.

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Love your takes Heather, keep speaking up!

I wanted to comment on certainty, but start by saying I’m not sure I see the jump from language policing to preventing uncertainty.

Uncertainty is a tool of control as much as certainty. I see certainty in your statements (sex is a biological fact) as you resist nonsense. And I see uncertainty being cultivated in non-experts to push them away from the table and suppress their voices.

Certainty is a mindset, a tool, that can be applied intentionally and cautiously. And like all tools it can be misused or weaponized. Certainty coexists with skepticism, given new information reevaluating our certainties is important. Perhaps this makes them not certainties, but denying people certainty is denying them a critical tool of self identity and meaning making.

Like a balloon, when inflated too large certainty becomes be brittle by its own assumptions. Have them be small and discreet, replace them when the world shifts and they are no longer facts, but let the rest float on. Where do you come from? Who is your family? What do you love? On such answers we hang our lives and with luck rise above the confusion and the fray.

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Claiming certainty about what is true is necessary to maintain a society, especially one that is in danger of impending demise. It is what you get from the media and from the government. It is what most people need in order to go about their daily lives. It may be one of the best things and one of the worst things about human culture. It holds us together in good times. And it brings us closer together like in World War II when the danger was thought to be most real. And again after 9/11/ 2001, where a real but new kind of danger allowed the government with the cooperation of the media to bullshit us into enormously costly wars, while ignoring what was happening to the working class. And 'they' are still doing it. That’s the problem with claiming certainty about what is true when it is not true and what makes certainty also one of the worst things about human culture. (Probably ;-)

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I see nothing wrong with Heather’s point, but want to advocate for certainty as important and necessary.

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Wow, WALS online has 2662 language entries. Maybe we need to learn the ones we have before fabricating anything new?

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These claims of moral superiority have gone so far over the top that one wonders whether people are being paid to create this nonsense, by those who have some political interest in sowing the seeds of confusion. Paid obfuscators, I would call them. The worst thing is that all of the sanctimonious creators of right-speak are just showing their own counter phobic predilections toward their own prejudicial feelings. The pot is again calling the quiet kettle black. Methinks the lady doth protest too much, or whatever the heck the lady calls herself. The next time the right-thinkers speak out, they should be asked to preach into a mirror.

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Governments can neither grant nor take away human rights. It can violate, it can respect, it can pretend to be the source of those rights, or it can deny they exist. Human rights are not contractual.

Sorry to the readers for being off-topic. My point was simply a mockery of the contra-adjective proposition.

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