Friday, October 23, 2009

Androcentrism, Grammar, God, and Bible Translation

I clicked on the link "interpreted" to the Chicago Tribune article about the next version of the New International Version (the translation notoriously written at a 6th grade reading level), which will get rid of the gender-neutral language. Please read Ann Bodine's 1978 article, "Androcentrism in prescriptive grammar: singular ‘they’, sex-indefinite ‘he’, and ‘he or she'", in which she totally explodes all these grammatical myths we've inherited. (We've been misguided by our misinformed school teachers that we are to use "his/her" and not "their" so: "Who lost HIS keys" rather than "Who lost their keys." But what if a woman lost her keys???)

So, the notion of gender neutrality is an attempt to overcome centuries of Scholastic meddling with the English language done purely for bizarre religious fantasies. The Scholastics felt that their own language of English was a lowly and base GERMANIC language which they must shape to look more like the holy language of Latin (a ROMANCE language, unlike English). These attempts are called today PRESCRIPTIVIST grammar (as opposed to a DESCRIPTIVIST grammar which reflects how actual speakers of the language use the language.) Some of these attempts are incredibly silly such as "Don't split an infinitive" which is IMPOSSIBLE to do in Latin SINCE LATIN'S INFINITIVES ARE JUST ONE WORD, whereas infinitives in English are PERIPHRASTIC (containing more than one word such as "to go," to eat," "to vomit").

So, according to this fictive "rule" Star Trek was wrong when they said "To boldly go..." (which is technically a so-called "split infinitive"), yet "To go boldly..." simply has a DIFFERENT connotation. Having a gender-neutral translation is "politically correct" because it hopes to undo some of the nonsense that dead, white men tried to wreak on our language.

Androcentrism assumed that the reader was male (which was all too often the case since it was long thought that there was no reason for women to read-- illiteracy being an important tool to subjegate someone, so they can never have any independence), and that male stood for all people ("mankind" vs. "humankind").

"I am afraid we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar." (Friedrich Nietzsche)

--The Brain Demon

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