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Re: [PATCH] Update English pronoun usage to comply with GNU Kind Communi

From: Mikko Rantalainen
Subject: Re: [PATCH] Update English pronoun usage to comply with GNU Kind Communication Guidelines
Date: Sun, 27 Sep 2020 15:40:44 +0300
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.10.0

Karl Ove Hufthammer (27.9.2020 11.27 Europe/Helsinki):
> Bruno Haible skreiv 27.09.2020 02:14:
>> The GNU Kind Communication Guidelines don't mandate gender-neutral speak in
>> documentation. The GNU Kind Communication Guidelines are about communication
>> between people, not about documentation.
>> Therefore there is no need for gender-neutral speak in the GNU gettext
>> documentation.
> It’s not a *requirement*, but using gender-neutral pronouns is surely 
> more *inclusive* than using gender-specific pronouns. And being 
> inclusive to the users is a good thing, isn’t it?

Being inclusive is not a bad thing. However, it can just be neutral,
too, instead of being "good thing". For example, using "they" when the
sentence structure really requires using he or she will be harder to
*understand* so doing half-assed patchwork may be even worse than
neutral, too.

> So, IMHO, this patch in an improvement to the documentation.

Your patch included lots of grammatical errors and touched lots of
places where gender-specific pronouns were not used. If you think this
kind of change is important to you, you must be the one using extra time
to come up with high quality patches.

The patch you suggested requires reader to accept "singular they" which
is not commonly used anywhere and is considered an error by many,
especially in formal writing. If you want to avoid gender specific
pronouns, you have to use "he or she" (or "she or he") everywhere or
always use real prular forms or passive form for everything. If you
*feel* that the English *language* must be fixed, submitting patches to
random software projects is not the way forward. (And I'm writing this
as a Finn and Finnish does not have gender specific pronouns!)

(I actually tried to find sources that support using "singular they"
without also supporting gender-neutral reasons to do so and I couldn't
find anything. This suggests that "singular they" in modern usage has
been invented just to fight the gender specific pronouns insted of
trying to make text easier to understand. Grammatically correct usage is
to use recently invented gender-neutral pronoun zhe but support for it
seems to be even worse than "singular they".)

Another examples of problematic part:
> diff --git a/gettext-tools/doc/Admin/documentation 
> b/gettext-tools/doc/Admin/documentation
> index beb1d475a..1b0956dbe 100644
> --- a/gettext-tools/doc/Admin/documentation
> +++ b/gettext-tools/doc/Admin/documentation
> @@ -20,8 +20,8 @@ Subject: Internationalization of Software?
>  Date: 30 Jun 89 19:05:23 GMT
>  Reply-To: terrell@druhi.ATT.COM (TerrellE)
> -I know that there are some modifications that I will have to perform to 
> -"internationalize" software products developed for use in the USA.  
> +I know that there are some modifications that I will have to perform to
> +"internationalize" software products developed for use in the USA.
>  These changes include the obvious (translate the program
>  and documentation into the right language).  However, some of the
>  other changes are more subtle.  I'm sure that I've overlooked some, but

These kind of changes have two very serious issues:

(1) This change is not related to gender specific language, and

(2) This is verbatim quotation of written text by one specific person.
Even if the language he or she used hurts your feelings, it is not okay
to start rewriting the history and pretending that he or she wrote
something else in the first place.


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