Saturday, 13 May 2006

Inclusive Language Rant

One of my pet hates is inclusive language. It's bad enough in everyday situations, but it is particularly annoying when it happens in hymns and Mass readings. It is irritating. I also find it somewhat insulting: I resent the implication that I lack the intelligence to realise that words like "Man" actually refer to me too. I am constantly insulted by the use of "brothers and sisters" - or the even more patronising "sisters and brothers" - when the single, elegant word "brethren" would be sufficient.

It is often down right clumsy, changing familiar words and phrases, and sometimes even the meaning. I remember one occasion when a priest (not my current Parish Priest, I hasten to add) tied himself up in knots trying to be terribly inclusive while reading at Mass: he was so anxious not to leave anyone out that he proclaimed Jesus as "our brother and sister"??

Inclusive language is at its most annoying when the PC brigade get their paws on traditional hymns. It's bad enough having to put up with dodgy lyrics from wishy-washy offerings such as "If I were a butterfly" and "Bind us together" but I feel that there ought to be a law against changing the good stuff.

The madness behind inclusive language is amply demonstrated by one hymn to Our Lady. In "I'll sing a hymn to Mary," at the end of each verse is the refrain "When wicked men blaspheme thee, I'll love and bless thy name." By changing the words to "When wicked ones blaspheme thee" all the PC brigade have succeeded in doing is indicate that women have as much of a right to blaspheme against Our Lady as men. Well, that really makes me feel all warm and cuddly and included...

I have to confess that I deliberately try and sabotage this wherever I spot it. I have a fairly strong singing voice (and the figure to match - move over Brunhilde) and I take great delight in singing the correct versions - aided and abetted by my even more traditional Parish Priest. But in the meantime, I am sorely tempted to grafitti all the parish hymn books...

5 comments:

Fr Tim Finigan said...

Welcome to St Blog's, Mac. That's a good opening rant if I may say so :-)

Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

Inclusive language? It's like Al Jolson: painting on a false ethnic face. It's a minstrel show for white folks in America. It's forcing ancient Jews to look and sound like twentieth century Americans so we can tolerate them while patting ourselves on our backs for being so much better than them.

Fr PF said...

Can I add my own favourite? An inclusive priest I heard saying the fourth Eucharistic Prayer, described the Father's Only Son as "a person like us in all things but sin", forgetting (Chalcedon) that while in Christ there are two natures, there is only one Divine person (divine = not like us).

dilexitprior said...

I've actually lost marks on a history paper for not using inclusive language! Ugh. I share your frustrations.

dilexitprior said...

Oh, wow, thanks for adding me to your links. I just noticed that. I've got to update my own blogroll. :-)

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