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Re: Comment on introduction pages

From: Russ Allbery
Subject: Re: Comment on introduction pages
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 2010 17:28:47 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.1 (gnu/linux)

Eric Blake <address@hidden> writes:

> Thanks for the report.  However, English is one of those silly languages
> where the pronoun "his" can have a neuter sense rather than masculine,
> and this is one of those cases.  Politically correct pundits are trying
> to eradicate that usage, but personally, I'm still of the opinion that
> "his" looks better than "his/hers", as long as you understand that the
> usage is not locking down the gender of the antecedent.

The long-standing gender-neutral pronoun in English is singular "their,"
as used by such people as Jane Austen.  I would rewrite the sentence as:

    "The developer expresses the recipe to build their package in a

I realize that also bothers some people who are overly well-trained in the
specific style of English forced by Latin prescriptivists during a short
portion of the history of the language, but it's grammatically correct in
English and has been for hundreds of years.

In general, please reconsider your position stated above.  Small things
like this discourage women from participating in open source projects in
little ways, and those little discouragements add up over time.  It's a
very minor thing to change to make someone feel more welcome by not
literally writing their gender out of the manual, and the reward is far
stronger than the small loss of perceived elegance of wording.

Russ Allbery (address@hidden)             <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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