“PC” language

This letter is written in response to the statements made in Paul Kirk’s article, “Unbiased Language Creates Controversy” which appeared in the April 17 edition of The Northern Star. In particular, the purpose of this letter is to question whether or not the “inclusive language policy” adopted by the Freshman English Committee is indeed “politically correct.”

Lois Self informs us that “Language is constantly evolving.” That this is true should be obvious to anyone who has read Shakespeare.

In addition, she asserts that “As sex roles change, language changes inevitably,” (my emphasis). These premises lead to some interesting conclusions.

First, if you assert that the English language is sexually biased, then society is sexually biased. That is, since language reflects society’s sex roles, and as the English language is now biased, then it must follow that society is at present, sexually biased.

Next, Lois Self states that language changes after society changes, which means language is a reflection of society.

Does she argue that society has changed, and therefore language must be changed in order to make it a more accurate reflection? This is in direct conflict with the conclusion drawn in the preceding paragraph.

Nevertheless, if this is the case then she is tampering with the inevitable course of the evolution of language. That is, language will inevitably change to reflect society, with her help or without it.

Perhaps she is instead proposing a change in language in order to produce a change in society. This is not a novel idea. Indeed, Paul Kirk’s article mentions one man’s attempt to shape society by means of its language, namely Mussolini.

But is this purpose to be understood as “politically correct?”

First of all, it is interesting to note that “political correctness” has been called “fascism from the left,” which provides an ironic link to Mussolini. Second, a “politically correct” agenda includes a commitment to affirmative action, the purpose of which is to protect and promote the interests of certain minorities.

As has been demonstrated above, the purpose of the “inclusive language policy” is to advance the societal status of these minority groups (especially women). Therefore, the inclusive language policy appears to share some of the same goals as a “politically correct” agenda.

Warner R. Winborne

Graduate student

Political Science