Monday, October 10, 2016

What word would you use to describe people who fish?

An Australian ruminates

A question came to my desk the other day: "Hello, can I ask a language question? Is it 'fishermen' or 'fishers'?

"Fishermen is obviously discriminatory, but fishers seems to be disliked by many within ABC Rural. And fisherpeople is out of the question. As someone who has never fished I feel like I have no authority to decide."

It's a good question, asked with noble intentions. But one thing made me pause: is "fishermen" an exclusionary term?

There's a line on this that says it isn't. Historically speaking, this position might even be correct: the Oxford English Dictionary does note that the suffix -men was considered until the 20th century to include women, if only by implication.

But! Language changes. There's even a nice little term for this: the etymological fallacy.

"Decimate" may once have meant "to kill one in every 10", but only the most rusted-on Roman legionary would today argue that the words means anything more than to more generally devastate or ruin.

And, if society has changed to be more inclusive of female perspectives, then so too should the language we use.

Fishermen, runs the non-sexist language reform line, could be seen to be as exclusionary as terms like chairmen. It treats maleness as the norm in matters involving more than one angler, and steps should be taken to rectify this disparity.



Anonymous said...

I don't care !

Anonymous said...

Fishperson, as in "Fishperson from the Black Lagoon."

Spurwing Plover the fighting shorebird said...

Well as far as the idiots from PETA are concerned they would refer to them as Killer of Little Sea Kittens becuase PETA is STUPID

Anonymous said...

How did "creature" morph into "Fishperson?

stinky said...

"Absentee employee."

Darzee the Tailorbird said...

Liberal stupidity knows no borders on just how rediclous it can get the PC nonsense is getting out of hand

kite, bird that hovers and looks around said...

Lefties/feminists are addicted to changing words, and pressuring and forcing others to speak the way that lefties tell them to. It gives them a sense of power over others, and a thrill in their knickers. In leftist fields every so often they have stupid meetings where a few of the most power addicted authoritarian ones change all the common works and terms used in their industry for the last few years to a whole new set of industry vocabulary. They love doing it. Then they hold a big meeting and tell everyone all the new words they must now use, and all the words that are now unacceptable. I attended one of the state meetings about 6 weeks ago. Anyone who used the old words gets very firmly corrected by any power loving lefty who overhears them. This practice happens in all the welfare fields.

By the way, the word decimate means to eradicate, kill, sort out, thin out, weed out, one in ten. It is commonly used by those who discuss military history, like myself. I have also heard it used in the fruit industry in regards to thinning fruit from trees. Leftists though, like to use it to mean general destruction or annihilation, because leftists are like overdramatic teenagers who like to exaggerate and to sound impressive. Most leftists have never really matured.

Anonymous said...

It is the word "woman/women" which is discriminatory by adding "wo". Man/men refers to all humans (there is no "huwoman"). Man/men, he/him, etc. are the default and thus neutral terms. So if it is necessary to point out the gender of the people fishing, one would have to say e.g. women/girl fishermen or male/boy fishermen.

Anonymous said...

This is a bullshit conversation. Enough of the political correctness once and for all. If you fish the who apart from the politically handicapped give a rat's what you are called.

Gooniebird said...

Kite bird. You mean like the evil Dalecks from Dr Who who's one dreadful slogan is EXTERMINATE,EXTERMINATE,EXTERMINATE