The write fight
March 05, 2008
David Gelernter turns in a brisk essay in the March 3rd Weekly Standard, contending that English, a beautiful language, has been hijacked by feminists who are ruining writing and depleting the supply of those in America who write well. They do this by inserting odd, abrasive phrases like "he or she" and "chairperson" into the vernacular. Gelernter is certainly correct that the first rule of writing ("keep it simple, concrete, concise") is regularly flouted today, but this is not entirely, or even mostly, the work of feminists. Much of the blame must be placed on our schools, which require their students neither to write nor to read great writing and, yet, are seemingly flummoxed when students cannot write. Universities are little better; the writing championed in campus classrooms is akin to Linear A in inscrutability. Learning to express ideas clearly is a basic part of any decent education--for boys and girls alike, if not for inanimate objects such as chairs.
"Feminism and the English Language," by David Gelernter, The Weekly Standard, March 3, 2008