Author Topic: Inclusive language  (Read 1990 times)


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Inclusive language
« on: January 25, 2014, 08:54:01 AM »
The following test will guide you through the use of Inclusive language in formal writing. Writing inclusively means to avoid expressions and words that exclude particular groups of people. For example, gender-specific words, like “man”, “mankind”, masculine or feminine pronouns etc. are considered to exclude other genders. Formal writing avoids value judgements about anyone based on their gender, because such statements diminish objectivity, therefore it is important to avoid:

- emphasizing gender inappropriately or irrelevantly;

- treating women and men unequally;

- minimise or trivialise women or men.

The following specific techniques are helpful in writing inclusively:

Historically pronoun “he” has been used as a generic term; but in contemporary formal writing it should be avoided when possible. “he/she” is an alternative that may be used, but it adds awkwardness especially due to repetitions in various contexts: “If a writer sees that he/she has mistakes with his/her paper, he/she should seek help from his/her supervisor.”

In such case using pronoun “they” will be helpful: “If writers see that they have mistakes with their papers, they should seek help from their supervisors.”

Another technique presumes avoiding words or phrases indicative of gender when gender is irrelevant: “I went to a function for the celebrated lady novelist.” No-one would say “I went to a function for the celebrated man novelist”, so this gender identification implies that the novelist is a dilettante, a woman who writes as a kind of elegant hobby rather than as a serious career. If you need to identify her further, use her name:

“I went to a function for the celebrated novelist, Keri Hulme.”

Taking heed of compound words also improves style: astronaut vs. spaceman, humanity vs. mankind, artificial vs. manmade, sales representative vs. salesman.

Avoid diminutives to imply female: usher vs. usherette, poet vs. poetess. Neither ushers nor poets are inherently male or female.

Other specific cases: “woman” and “women” are more commonly used than “lady” and “ladies”. Paired words should be equal: “man and woman” or “husband and wife” should be used instead of “man and wife”