In today’s blog, John Wells quotes a long piece by Eric Armstrong, a voice, speech and dialect coach. I have no complaint with any of the content of what he says, but towards the end, the pronoun he invariably uses for “actor” is “she”, “her”: “But silliness has great value to an actor! It frees her up, lets her connect to those new sounds in a joyous, unfettered manner, stripping away all those value judgments of sounds (and ultimately symbols) as being “mere math”. And once she can hear those sounds in her own mouth, to feel the physical action required, the visualize the action of her articulators, she is ready to begin to learn how to write them down systematically with IPA.”
Am I the only person who finds this pandering to the extremist feminist lobby offensive? The English language has no neutral pronoun for the third person singular, either as subject or object, but to use “she” and “her” in this way brings me up short every time. I am given the impression that it is only Eric’s female students who value silliness. Earlier in his piece, Eric has avoided the problem by keeping to the plural form. Why could he not continue? This is an increasing tendency among American writers. I do not believe it does anything to enhance the feminist cause, and simply annoys large numbers of otherwise peaceable citizens.
To quote John Wells from yesterday: “End of rant”.