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  The practice of assigning masculine gender to neutral terms netes from the fact that every language reflects the prejudices of the society in which it evolved, and English evolved through most of its history in a male-centered, patriarchal society. Like any other language, however, English is always changing. One only has to read aloud sentences from the 19th century hooks assigned for this class to sense the shifts that have occurred in the last 150 years. When readers pick up something to read, they expect different conventions depending on the time in which the material was written. As writers in 1995, we need to be not only aware of the conventions that our readers may expect, but also conscious of the responses our words may elicit. In addition, we need to know how the shifting nature of language can make certain words awkward or misleading.

  "Man"

  Man once was a truly generic word referring to all humans, but has gradually narrowed in meaning to benete a word that refers to adult male human beings. Anglo-Saxons used the word to refer to all people. One example of this occurs when an Anglo-Saxon writer refers to a seventh-century English princess as "a wonderful man". Man paralleled the Latin word homo, "a member of the human species." not vir, "an adult male of the species." The Old English word for adult male was waepman and the old English word for adult woman was wifman. In the course of time, wifman evolved into the word "woman." "Man" eventually ceased to be used to refer to individual women and replaced waepman as a specific term distinguishing an adult male from an adult female. But man continued to be used in generalizations about both sexes.

  By the 18th century, the modern, narrow sense of man was firmly established as the predominant one. When Edmund Burke, writing of the French Revolution, used men in the old, inclusive way, he took pains to spell out his meaning: "Such a deplorable havoc is made in the minds of men (both sexes) in France..." Thomas Jefferson did not make the same distinction in declaring that "all men are created equal" and "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." In a time when women, having no vote, could neither give nor withhold consent, Jefferson had to be using the word men in its principal sense of "males," and it probably never occurred to him that anyone would think otherwise. Looking at modern dictionaries indicate that the definition that links "man' with males is the predominant one. Studies of college students and school children indicate that even when the broad definitions of "msn" and "men" are taught, they tend to conjure up images of male people only. We would never use the sentence "A girl grows up to be a man," because we assume the narrower definition of the word man.

  The Pronoun Problem

  The first grammars of modern English were written in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were mainly intended to help boys from upper class families prepare for the study of Latin, a language most scholars considered superior to English. The male authors of these earliest English grammars wrote for male readers in an age when few women were literate. The masculine-gender pronouns(代词) did not reflect a belief that masculine pronouns could refer to both sexes. The grammars of this period contain no indication that masculine pronouns were sex-inclusive when used in general references. Instead these pronouns reflected the reality of male cultural dominance and the male-centered world view that resulted.

  "He" started to be used as a generic pronoun by grammarians who were trying to change a long-established tradition of using "they" as a singular pronoun. In 1850 an Act of Parliament gave official sanction(批准)to the recently invented concept of the "generic" he. In the language used in acts of Parliament, the new law said, "words importing the masculine gender shall be deemed and taken to include females." Although similar language in contracts and other legal documents subsequently helped reinforce this grammatical edict in all English-speaking countries, it was often conveniently ignored. In 1879, for example, a move to admit female physicians to the all-male Massachusetts Medical Society was effectively blocked on the grounds 'that the society's by-laws describing membership used the pronoun he.

  Just as "man" is not truly generic in the 1990s, "he" is not a true generic pronoun. Studies have confirmed that most people understand "he" to refer to men only. Sentences like "A doctor is a busy person; he must be able to balance a million obligations at once" imply that all doctors are men. As a result of the fact that "he" is read by many as a masculine pronoun, many people, especially women, have nete to feel that the generic pronouns excludes women. This means that more and more people find the use of such a pronoun problematic.

  Solving the Pronoun Problem

  They as a Singular -Most people, when writing and speaking informally, rely on singular they as a matter of course: "If you love someone, set them free" (Sting). If you pay attention to your own speech, you'll probably catch yourself using the same construction yourself. "It's enough to drive anyone out of their senses" (George Bernard Shaw). "I shouldn't like to punish anyone, even ii they'd done me wrong" (George Eliot). Some people are annoyed by the incorrect grammar that this solution necessitates, but this construction is used more and more frequently.

  He or She---Despite the charge of clumsiness, double-pronoun constructions have made a neteback: "To be black in this country is simply too pervasive an experience for any writer to omit from her or his work," wrote Samuel R. Delany. Overuse of this solution can be awkward, however.

  Pluralizing-A writer can often recast material in the plural. For instance, instead of "As he advances in his program, the medical student has increasing opportunities for clinical work," try "As they advance in their program, medical students have increasing opportunities for clinical work"

  Eliminating Pronouns--Avoid having to use pronouns at all; instead of "a first grader can feed and dress himself," you could write, "a first grader can eat find get dressed without assistance."

  Further Alternatives--he she or s/he, using one instead of he, or using a new generic pronoun (thon, co, E, try, hash, hit).

  1. "Man" could be used to refer to female human being in the past.

  2. In "all men are created equal" in Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, the word "men" refer to both males and females whether they have vote right or not.

  3. In 1879, Massachusetts Medical Society refused to admit more than ten female physicians because the society's by-laws describing membership used the pronoun he.

  4. The first grammars of modern English were written in order to help boys from the upper class prepare for the study of Latin.

  5. "Man" paralleled the Latin word "homo" 'which means ______.

  6. Studies show that even when students are taught the broad definition of "man" and "men", they think of ______.

  7. Grammarians started to use "he" as a generic pronoun because they were trying to change a tradition of using "they" as ______.

  8. When most people read the word "he", they would understand it to rater to ______.

  9. Although some people are annoyed by ______ of singular they, this construction is used more and more frequently to solve the pronoun problem.

  10. Another way of solving the pronoun problem is to use ______ instead of the singular.

  1. Y 2. N 3. NG 4. Y

  5. a member of the human species

  6. male people only

  7. a singular pronoun

  8. men only

  9. the incorrect grammar

  10. the plural

  试题解答(2)

  Part Ⅱ Reading Comprehension(Skimming and Scanning)

  解析:

  1.根据“‘Man’”部分第一段“Man once was a truly generic word referring to all humans,but has gradually narrowed in meaning to benete a word that refers to adult male human beings. Anglo-Saxons used the word to refer to all people. One example of this occurs when an Anglo- Saxon writer refers to a seventh-century English princess as‘a wonderful man.’”可见,“man”这个词最初是泛指所有人的,到了17世纪还有作家把公主描述成“a wonderful man.”。故此句判断为YES。

  2.由“‘Man’”部分第二段中的“By the 18th century,the modern,narrow sense of man was firmly established as the predominant one...Jefferson had to be using the word men in its principal sense of“males,”and it probably never occurred to him that anyone would think otherwise.”可知到了18世纪“man”这个词已经狭义指男性了。接着作者举了两个例子。第二个例子是杰斐逊的《独立宣言》。由于当时女性没有选举权,杰斐逊所用的“man”是专指男性的。故此句判断为NO。

  3.由“The Pronoun Problem”部分第二段最后一句“In 1879,for example,a move to admit female physicians to the


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