Jonathan Kahane: Signs of our times, in the language itself
WESTHAMPTON — Last weekend, the Gazette published a letter from an area resident who took issue with road signs such as “Men at Work.” Oh no — not again! Over 40 years ago, the great humorist Russell Baker, who wrote for the New York Times, published a column titled, “Nopersonclature” (March 4, 1973) in which he attempted to poke fun at those who were criticizing the use of gender-loaded pronouns and statements. The piece is hilarious. Since the topic seems to have reared its head again, I will make some feeble attempts to add fuel to the fire.
Perhaps the letter-writer should watch some of Paul Newperson’s films, which might help to cool her off a bit. Listening to some of the music composed by Henry Personcini, such as “Moon River,” can also soothe the soul. I’ve heard that eating fruits such as persongos and clempersonstines can also lower blood pressure.
Education never hurts and researching some of the works by the famous American educator, Horace Personn, could help smooth ruffled feathers. I believe that watching late night TV such as “The Late Show with David Letterperson” could lighten the mood considerably. Sitting down with a cup of tea in front of a roaring fire with the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenchild will certainly do the trick if the above suggestions don’t prove fruitful.
Finally, watching baseball, like the antics of Personny Ramirez, could lift one’s spirits. (Whatever you do, don’t watch the Red Sox. They will put you over the edge!) I am grateful that we are not speaking French since all nouns seem to randomly possess a gender which would cause nightmares. We should all be concerned with the big issues, such as equal work for equal pay, but this seems like a battle of sepersontics. The writer is correct. As she stated herself, “It’s such a small thing.” Hopefully, at this point, we can all bow our heads and say, “A Folks.”
Jonathan Kahane lives in Westhampton.