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17.8.02

I think that "wymyn" are going about it all wrong.

Now, I can understand the desire to reform the language to more properly reflect the philosophy of those who are using it. And it makes sense not to want the word for "adult female human" (AFH) to look like a derivative of the word for "adult male human" (AMH). But twisting the spelling of "woman" does not seem the most satisfactory way of going about that. "Wymyn" (or however one spells is) presents three problems. First, it remains two syllables long, while "man" is only one. This creates an imbalance in the language. Rhythm-wise and space-wise, they aren't interchangeable. Second, it presents the two words as fundamentally different. The purpose is to eliminate the commonality between "man" and "woman," which then implies that they're two completely different creatures. Third, it presents the corrollary problem of expunging "man" from compound words like "chairman" and "manhole," so as not to make those words gender biased. This leads to awkward phrasings like "chairperson."

What I propose is to return the word "man" to its archaic definition as "person," and find a new word for AMH. This word would be patterned on "woman" -- a derivative of "man." The words for AMH and AFH would indicate that they are specific sub-categories of men. One possibility for this new word would be "yoman." The Y seems an obvious choice, as a parallel to the Y chromosome that is uniquely male. And the word evokes the idea of a yeoman -- a person from the middle ages who was neither master nor serf. Thus it would have positive connotations of upright moral character, freedom, and self-reliance. "Yoman" would preserve the linguistic commonality between AMHs and AFHs, while allowing "man" to be used as a convenient monosyllabic root indicating a person.

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