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WORDS HAVE POWER

Some of you are already aware that English is a ‘man’s’ language because it contains thousands of words that prefer men.

We like men; we also believe it’s time for the world’s most commonly used language to have some words for those of us who aren’t men, and we’ve come up with a simple way to do that.
We hope you’ll join us on our amazing journey to make English inclusive.

 

WORDS MATTER

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Yes, April 1st was April Fool’s Day—a day for playing pranks (be kind). We’d like to draw your attention to a ‘prank’ that English has been playing on women for centuries, but it’s not funny or in good taste. NEWSFLASH:  English prefers ‘he’s. Have you noticed? Some of have; some haven’t. Like one woman told me, “I know, but I try to ignore it.” Why do we do that? Perhaps because we just haven’t known what to do about it. Fixing English to treat us with any respect feels like an immense undertaking. 


Today, that’s no longer true. Linguist Vivian Probst and her team have given English SIX WORDS to balance it into a fair language. Only six words? You might think that’s ludicrous. How could six words make a difference in a language of 177,000 words*?  

In her book, ‘Breaking The Bias of English: How English Disempowers Women and How To Fix It In SIX WORDS’, Probst shares a brilliantly easy solution that took her fifteen years to discover.  


If you’ve heard that English is already a ‘gender fair’ language, you might not have considered this: English has thousands of words that include ‘man, men, he, his, sir, and guy’. Virtually no words identify women without a ball and chain, attaching us to men. She, Her, Woman, Women, Female, and our most common word of all: THE. Every time these words appear in English, we are subliminally belittled (or chained). We don’t even make it into the 100 most commonly-used words in English, although men do nicely.  Twelve per cent of those words feature them. 


Yes, we’re used to it; after all, it’s been that way for centuries. But it struck Probst one day (August 8, 2008) that she should study why English undermines, and disempowers women, treating us like we don’t exist unless attached. More importantly, she wanted to figure out how to fix it. Could we make English fairer to women? Her answer: You bet we can! We can make English work better for us by minor spelling changes to six words. 

Everyone wants to know: What are those words? The answer:, SHE, HER, WOMAN, WOMEN, FEMALE and THEY. Why these six? It took Probst fifteen years to bring out her insights in book form. ‘BREAKING THE BIAS OF ENGLISH: How English Disempowers Women and How TO Fix It In Six Words!’ because she had to be sure and accurate. 



So even if April first is April Fool’s Day, let’s stop letting English fool around with biases. Get a copy of her latest book and/or her four-book novel series, written in WEnglish and what she calls WEnglish for WEquality. Because it’s hard to be equal when your language won’t give you any words.  

aEbook available everywhere for $2.95 or less; soft cover (Amazon.com) for $14. 


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As a linguist, I've studied English for (let's say) approximately fifteen years. No kidding.


What about English could possibly enthrall a linguist that long? So glad you asked. Even if you didn't, it's time to realize that some aspects of English appear to be (at least) unkind to those of us who aren't men. You haven't noticed?


If not, you're not reading some of the recent books by both (wo)men and men--books like: Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language, by Amanda Montell; Unspinning the Spin: The Women's Media Center Guide to Fair and Accurate Language, by Rosalie Maggio; 'Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men' by Caroline Criado Perez, 'Outspoken: Why Women's Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free' by Veronica Rueckert, 'What's Your Pronoun: Beyond He and She, by Dennis Baron or 'All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister.


I have read these and more. Each one takes a unique approach to the issue of how overwhelmingly men control our lives, and yet, none of these takes on what I believe is a fundamentally core issue: how English uses words against those of us who aren't men. In fact I've written a book about it titled 'Breaking The Bias of English'.


Why? Because English has over 10,000 words that adulate men and less than a dozen that refer to us and believe me, 'adulate' is not a word I'd use for what English does to words for us. In fact, quite contrarily, English likes to attach words for us to 'he' words, like, 'woMAN', woMEN, sHE, HEr, feMALE, etc.


It occurs to me that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to rise to equal standing in English if we have no words of our own.


Fear not; I'm not suggesting we rewrite English...I am however, going to suggest that we change SIX WORDS. That's all. Really, you ask? How can I claim that we can equalize an entire language in just six words? Just watch. It's all in my book.


'Breaking The Bias Of English' is an e-book costing about $1.99. I didn't write it to make money--I wrote it because English is now our world's most commonly spoken language and we need words for those of us who aren't men. How can we have a 'we' world if most of our gendered words are 'he' words?



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