101 Words I Don't Use
by Paul Niquette
Copyright 1996 Resource Books All rights reserved.

person (in place of man), one of the loony, counter-productive ideas that come along now and then.

Congressperson and Selectperson, postperson and policeperson, spokesperson and chairperson -- these terms began appearing during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Under the influence of Friedan and Greer, Smeal and Steinem, women had become acutely sensitive about both the 'man' and 'woman' forms of words. They fought to jettison gender altogether.

Somehow, person-hole, person-eater, person-hunt must have been thought to assure opportunities for females more than their male-dominated precursors. If nothing else, women have succeeded in persondating personifold changes in the English Language.

    Apparently unnoticed in the fray is the 'son' in person, else by now we would have endured the fomentation of 'perdaughter.'
'Actress' became just plain 'actor,' which did little to affect casting practices.  Every 'poetess' became a 'poet' with negligible impact on literary content. Whatever employment gains result from changing 'best boy' to 'best person' will be offset by losses from 'script girl' becoming 'script person.' 'Stewardess' became 'flight attendant' and, as a matter of fact, gave up some routes to men. Women moved into the 'flight deck,' though, which once was called the 'cockpit,' you may recall.

Pronouns, too, were slashed to sexlessness [he/she, his/her(s), himself/herself] and storms are now named for men/women. For all one knows, a woman boards a ship before he sails, a bastard can wear a dress, and an SOB can be somebody's daughter.

English will become genderless, but hardly better. Behold the dismal inhabitants of no-man's land:

    alderperson, baseperson, chessperson, doorperson, expressperson, fisherperson, G-person, handyperson, journeyperson, key-person, madperson, nightwatchperson, oddperson, pitchperson, riverperson, showperson, talisperson, unionperson, workperson, yes-person.
And what of this personifest of neutered words?
    personacle, personage, personakin, persondarin, persondible, persondolin, personeuver, personful, persongrove, personhandle, personhood, personicure, personifesto, personipulate, personkind, personly, personners, personpower, personsion, personsized, personslaughter, persontel, personufacture, personuscript
Women may intend -- but can only hope -- that her/history will reveal these verbal personipulations as one means for female epersoncipation and not as just so much personure.

101 Words
Table of Contents
Top of Article