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Re: Comment on introduction pages

From: Gary V. Vaughan
Subject: Re: Comment on introduction pages
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2010 14:24:34 +0700

Hi Chris,

Please don't top-post on technical lists.

On 4 Jun 2010, at 13:47, Christina Gratorp wrote:
> 2010/6/4 Mike Frysinger <address@hidden>
>> On Thursday, June 03, 2010 22:26:49 Eric Blake wrote:
>>> On 06/03/2010 06:28 PM, Russ Allbery wrote:
>>>> 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
>>>>    Makefile"
>>> A pedant would claim that it mixes singular and plural, but you are
>>> correct that it is in common enough usage that "their package" doesn't
>>> grate as badly on my nerves as "his/her package".
>> his/her is indeed garbage
>> -mike
> For the comfort of
> hermaphrodites I think "the developer's" is a good suggestion. Redundancy is
> not as bad as people feeling sad for not belonging, right? Gary, you seem to
> be a girl of great humor and mathematical asberger's and since about 1,7 of
> the world's population are hermaphrodites you with your amazing skills can
> easily calculate that 98,3 % is better than 90%.

Well, I was referring to (an assumed) approximate 90% male demographic of
automake manual readers.  I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the
slightest clue as to the world population of hermaphrodites.

> And then maybe we should
> ponder the fact that so few women are participating to open source. I think
> "because of Garys".

It was actually my female English-Lit professor who said to the class
(paraphrasing from memory): "I would *far* rather be addressed as 'Dear
Sir', than 'Dear Sir/Madam'... I find the assumption that I am an
hermaphrodite to be far more ridiculous than the assumption that I am a
man.  The entire `Sir/Madam', `he/she', `him/her', `person-hole',
`person-go fruit' movement is ridiculous in the extreme.  If you ever
submit a paper that panders to it, I will fail you."

And I agree with that sentiment whole-heartedly.

The reason that there are relatively few women participating in open
source is because there are relatively few women active in the Science
and IT fields.  Absolutely not because open source manuals make the
entirely realistic assumption that most of their readers are male.
Furthermore, the idea that ruining the perfectly good English of those
manuals with a plethora of `he/she', `him/her' sillinesses will
encourage more women to participate in open source is even more hand
wavy than my guess at the automake manual reader population demographic.

If references to a hypothetical male user in the manuals upset you, why
not submit a patch to simply switch the gender to female?  I would be
happy to apply such a patch to the Libtool and M4 manuals, and to
encourage you to participate more in open source.

Please don't take this as an insult to yourself, or the women of the
open source community, or the world in general.  I certainly, and I
hope obviously do not intend that. I'm merely objecting to the
unnecessary ugliness of language and silliness of hypothetical
hermaphroditic users in prose in general, and the automake manual in

Gary V. Vaughan (address@hidden)

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