[b-hebrew] 'iysh and zakar

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Tue Mar 1 06:02:57 EST 2005

On 01/03/2005 03:13, George F Somsel wrote:

> ...
>In one sense Peter is correct.  I am not British and he is.  I did not
>pretend to say what is or is not good British English, but I will correct
>that by saying that from listening to Brits speak I discern that Peter
>incorrectly characterizes British English.  I find from listening to
>ex-pat Brits and to the BBC that the British are not so unaware and
>unaccustomed to using the generic as he would pretend.

Thank you, George. I accept that the generic sense of "man" is not 
completely dead in British English, especially when referring (in the 
singular) to humanity as a whole rather than to individuals. On the 
other hand, I would venture to say from the Americans I know from 
personal contact and by e-mail that many of them also avoid generic 
"man", except for that particular usage.

I know that you are aware of the controversy over the new TNIV Bible, an 
American production (although with the worldwide market also in view) 
which avoids such generic language and is targeted at the 18-34 age 
group. In fact even the more conservative recent translations like ESV 
have tended to avoid generic "man", although this is common in the 
rather older NIV. Presumably some Americans really think that such 
language is preferred by many even in America. Of course ESV (but not 
TNIV) sticks to "man" in Psalm 1:1 (representing 'iysh), but even 
conservative Americans like Wayne Grudem and Vern Poythress do not 
understand this as gender generic, for they defend a "male 
representative" understanding of such verses.

>I would also turn the tables on him by reminding him that, unless he is
>sailing under a false flag, he has no qualifications to speak for "at
>least 50% of the population" by which he presumably intends the female
>portion of the population. ...

I am indeed not female! But I try to be the type of man who is sensitive 
to what women think. And some of them have strong views on this.

>... If any women happen to be offended by the
>usage of generic terms, I would be interested to hear.  Otherwise, I must
>conclude that Peter is a member of the PCLP [Politically Correct Language
George, it takes a language policeman (sorry, police officer) to 
recognise one! ;-)

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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