I suppose this has come up before but I was wondering what people here thought of the tendency to use "spokeswoman" "chairwoman" etc in preference to spokesman, chairman etc.
In purely etymological terms the "man" refers to "manager" but of course current context involves most speakers assuming that this refers to the sex of the person with the title, and this in turn is an issue of wider significance. Perception can be reality in some cases.
Wondering
Chrissy
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I suppose this has come up before but I was wondering what people here thought of the tendency to use ... with the title, and this in turn is an issue of wider significance. Perception can be reality in some cases.

I don't like the gender-changing forms, nor do I like the gender-neutral forms.
I'm SURE this has all been beaten to death before, but I always thought that a simple spelling change could alleviate the problem. Just replace the "man" with "min" and redefine it to be gender-neutral. Chairman becomes chairmin. Spokesman becomes spokesmin and so on. I know it's not aesthetically pleasing, but it's better than chairperson. Of course it wouldn't work for "man-hole cover", but neither does "person hole cover". Access hole cover or something like that will have to do.

Regards,
John
I suppose this has come up before but I was wondering what people here thought of the tendency to use "spokeswoman" "chairwoman" etc in preference to spokesman, chairman etc. In purely etymological terms the "man" refers to "manager"

Sorry, but the ending "-man" refers to man, from the Old English mann, meaning man.
Is someone going around saying it is an abbreviation of manager? That comes from the Latin manus, meaning hand.
There's a long "usage note" in the American Heritage dictionary about the "man" question, including showing how the female experts on the panel had less tolerance for it than the males.
http://www.bartleby.com/61/96/M0069600.html

Best Donna Richoux
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I suppose this has come up before but I was wondering what people here thought of the tendency to use "spokeswoman" "chairwoman" etc in preference to spokesman, chairman etc. In purely etymological terms the "man" refers to "manager"

Say what?
-snip re: chair-whatever-
Just replace the "man" with "min" and redefine it to be gender-neutral. Chairman becomes chairmin. Spokesman becomes spokesmin and so on. I know it's not aesthetically pleasing, but it's better than chairperson.

Honest question: in what way is an introduced form like "min" better than "person"? I really don't see the reason why it would be preferable: both forms are introduced to avoid something seen as undesirable, so it's six of one and all that.
(For what it's worth, I'd have no problem with your suggested form of "-min" or with "-person" or for that matter with the non-human forms like "chair"; personally, I couldn't care less what form is adopted. I am aware, however, that the mileage of others varies on this..)

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
I suppose this has come up before but I was wondering what people here thought of the tendency to use ... with the title, and this in turn is an issue of wider significance. Perception can be reality in some cases.

Very much news to me that the 'man' in these words is related to manager. Perception is important for sure.
I think that, once you start using 'chairwoman' and 'spokeswoman', then you are tied to a sex-specific ('gender' has been dealt with here many times - it is not the same as 'sex'. It is not a polite word for 'sex'.) methodology. When the job is held by a woman, you have a Chairwoman; when by a man, a Chairman. That seems OK to me, but there are people who don't like it. Certainly, we need to get away from the old days. I have been to Union meetings where the woman running the show was addressed, with her consent, as 'Madam Chairman' and that is ludicrous.'Person' seems fine to me too, so chairperson, spokesperson. Though, again there are objectors who prefer to make it clear what sex a job-holder is. It didn't matter here or in India or Israel or a bunch of other places that 'Prime Minister' was the title of the first Minister when she was a woman as well as when he was a man. If the USA ever puts a woman in the White House, I assume she'll be President or Vice-President. So why not chairperson? A third way is to seek new terminology.

In the later stages of my Union involvement, it became common practice to refer to the person running the meeting as 'The Chair'. 'Will the Chair permit an amendment here ...' etc. 'Thank you, Chair, for giving me this opportunity. Sounds a little clumsy, but then 'chairman' may have sounded funny too. 'Chairperson' certainly did, still does to many. Spokespeople could just be 'representatives'. Or, with a little padding, we could have a whole new construction - 'A White House Official, speaking on behalf of the President...'

John Dean
Oxford
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The inimitable Harvey Van Sickle (Email Removed) stated on 03 Sep 2003:
Just replace the "man" with "min" and redefine it to ... know it's not aesthetically pleasing, but it's better than chairperson.

Honest question: in what way is an introduced form like "min" better than "person"? I really don't see the reason why it would be preferable: both forms are introduced to avoid something seen as undesirable, so it's six of one and all that.

Given two undesriable forms, the shorter (one syllable) would seem to be less offensive than the longer (two syllables), no?
A third way is to seek new terminology. In the later stages of my Union involvement, it became common practice ... as 'The Chair'. 'Will the Chair permit an amendment here ...' etc. 'Thank you, Chair, for giving me this opportunity.

The snag with this approach is what to call the person who takes over in the absence of the normal leader. I hold that position in one committee, and I had to point out, forcibly, that I am not the Vice Chair. That sounds, to me, too much like a sordid piece of furniture.

I am the vice-chairman.

Graeme Thomas
X-No-Archive: yes
I suppose this has come up before but I was ... use "spokeswoman" "chairwoman" etc in preference to spokesman, chairman etc.

Too late. The Canadian national museum of anthropology and history was for decades called the Museum of Man (probably borrowing ... became the Museum of Civilization. Hostility to the word man was at the time acknowledged as one of several reasons.

Bloody stupidity. No other word for it. With the old name they could cover about 40,000 years going right back to the emergence of Cro Magnon and modern man. This would enables them to cover Solutrean technology such as Clovis points, and the Solutrean explorers who first crossed a then much narrower Atlantic to North America; fired-chert, early ceramics, the flowering of paleolithic art in south-west France, and so on.
Instead the craven cowards choose an Appease-the-Thought-Police- Wankstains of political correctness and opt for a name that gives then only about 10,000 years to play with. You think a Canadian museum would be falling over itself to show how the French peopled North America long before the indians.

James Follett. Novelist (Callsign G1LXP)
http://www.jamesfollett.dswilliams.co.uk and http://www.marjacq.com
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