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Author Topic: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'  (Read 6837 times)

sheltron5000

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2009, 10:52:38 AM »
What is the appropriate way to refer to a group of mixed gender in the plural 'you'?  

You ____?  Guys?  All?  People?  Folks?  

Language is important, but it seems like political considerations have to be weighed against communicative function.  

This is actually a well dialectal difference. It depends on where you're from. West Cost American English (pretty much the standard, THANKS HOLLYWOOD!) uses "you guys" as the informal second person plural, people in other areas use y'all (all y'all in some instances), youse (youse guys), etc. It all stems from a dislike of the second person singular in English, it is mildly insulting simply because of its directness, so people avoid using it. That's actually why we stopped using thou, it became a serious put down to "thou" someone, so everyone stopped. Unfortunately, when the plural form "you" becomes too widespread as the singular form, it gradually shifts to the insulting singular and we have to create a new plural. Thus the shifts: you -> y'all -> all y'all / ->youse -> youse guys, where "y'all/youse" in, some dialects, is the new singular

Just remember, in formal English, the plural is still "you," at least in writing. In speaking, "you guys" seems to have become the standard, "guys" having been extended to a non-gendered descriptor.

Also, political considerations are an important communicative function, being able to communicate the proper level of insult to your barroom opponent is vital, I think.

ETA: The examples you cited, with the exception of guys, would all create an insulting level of distance betweeen you and your audience. Think of the stereotyped response of the angry black man to "you people."
LSN

I'd love to join this LGBT club.  It's the Legos, Gobots, Barbies, and other Toys group, right?  I'll show up with an armful of toys.

archival

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2009, 10:56:47 AM »
What is the appropriate way to refer to a group of mixed gender in the plural 'you'? 

Y'all.

Would you elaborate on your opinions?

No.

Seriously.  I'm close to 40.  It's entirely inappropriate for me to refer to my peers as girls and boys unless I'm being cutsie or comically grody.  And it sounds condescending for me to do so even if the folks I'm referring to (like some of my classmates) still refer to themselves as girls or guys.  I don't care if you're barely 21; if you're in a class with me or if we're working together I will refer to you as a man or a woman.  ETA: Or sometimes fella or dude.

I do recall getting weird reactions from some folks in my early 20s when I referred to peers as "women" or "men" because they assumed I meant somebody much older.  That eventually stops.  I'd say somewhere around mid-20s, depending on your peer group.

And I have nothing more to say about the sexism aspect.  I've never been very good at breaking down the obvious.  It's not a very helpful trait for law school purposes, lemme tell you.  :)
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CTL

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2009, 11:01:39 AM »
What is the appropriate way to refer to a group of mixed gender in the plural 'you'? 

Y'all.

Would you elaborate on your opinions?

No.

Seriously.  I'm close to 40.  It's entirely inappropriate for me to refer to my peers as girls and boys unless I'm being cutsie or comically grody.  And it sounds condescending for me to do so even if the folks I'm referring to (like some of my classmates) still refer to themselves as girls or guys.  I don't care if you're barely 21; if you're in a class with me or if we're working together I will refer to you as a man or a woman.  ETA: Or sometimes fella or dude.

I do recall getting weird reactions from some folks in my early 20s when I referred to peers as "women" or "men" because they assumed I meant somebody much older.  That eventually stops.  I'd say somewhere around mid-20s, depending on your peer group.

And I have nothing more to say about the sexism aspect.  I've never been very good at breaking down the obvious.  It's not a very helpful trait for law school purposes, lemme tell you.  :)

Hehe, no worries.  I'm just trying to start a discussion.
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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2009, 11:15:18 AM »
What is the appropriate way to refer to a group of mixed gender in the plural 'you'? 

You ____?  Guys?  All?  People?  Folks? 

Language is important, but it seems like political considerations have to be weighed against communicative function.   

See above "You people" this is espically effective if the group is a diffrent race than you
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mbw

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2009, 11:31:16 AM »
What is the appropriate way to refer to a group of mixed gender in the plural 'you'? 

Y'all.

Even as an extreme Northern yankee, I find this to be a very effective adoption of Southern-eese.

Would you elaborate on your opinions?

No.

Seriously.  I'm close to 40.  It's entirely inappropriate for me to refer to my peers as girls and boys unless I'm being cutsie or comically grody.  And it sounds condescending for me to do so even if the folks I'm referring to (like some of my classmates) still refer to themselves as girls or guys.  I don't care if you're barely 21; if you're in a class with me or if we're working together I will refer to you as a man or a woman.  ETA: Or sometimes fella or dude.

I do recall getting weird reactions from some folks in my early 20s when I referred to peers as "women" or "men" because they assumed I meant somebody much older.  That eventually stops.  I'd say somewhere around mid-20s, depending on your peer group.

And I have nothing more to say about the sexism aspect.  I've never been very good at breaking down the obvious.  It's not a very helpful trait for law school purposes, lemme tell you.  :)

I agree completely.  Look, it really isn't all that hard to use man/woman.  When I was a kid, African-Americans were referred to as Blacks, then Afro-Americans, and yet I would be hard pressed to ever refer to someone (without their expressing a different preference) as anything other than African-American.  Same thing going from Oriental to Asian.  Once you start using the phrase consistently, you just adopt it naturally.

Of course, there are flexible situations - I replied to two of my women friends on FB this morning with a "thanks, guys".  I will often refer to groups of mixed, or even all women groups, as guys.  It is pretty non-gender-specific for me, and in fact suits my preference that distinguishing gender in language, in and of itself, can lead to subconscious bias.

ETA: [/gender anthro-speak]
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sheltron5000

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2009, 11:34:03 AM »
guy really has extended a great deal. It's not uncommon where I live to hear people say "hey, guy" to people of both sexes.
LSN

I'd love to join this LGBT club.  It's the Legos, Gobots, Barbies, and other Toys group, right?  I'll show up with an armful of toys.

archival

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2009, 11:38:01 AM »
Hehe, no worries.  I'm just trying to start a discussion.

Well it's a good habit to start referring to your peers as grownups.  To a lot of people my age (and somewhat younger), it sounds really, really young to hear folks refer to women as "girls."  ETA: So you end up sounding like the teenaged coffee-fetching intern instead of a colleague worthy of respect.  Not a fantastic impression, but not a huge deal after all.

It may also strike many people--but certainly not everybody--as sexist.  Not in some alarmingly offensive or career-damaging way, but in a "huh this person isn't particularly thoughtful" way.  Which is not an impression you want to give to people you work with, for the most part.  And I wouldn't count on being able to shift back and forth between what you use depending on the age of the person you're talking to.  In my experience, lots of people (especially fellas) in their early 20s aren't very good at discerning when somebody's closer to 30 (or 40) than 20. 

Once you start using the phrase consistently, you just adopt it naturally.

Zactly.
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Private David Lewis

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2009, 11:40:13 AM »
I will continue to use masculine pronouns when referring to an indeterminate sex; however, I try not to refer to women in their twenties as "girls." 
The main partner in their Entertainment Law group went to CLS, but he was Fiske and on LR, so be careful.  You don't want to set yourself goals that are too high.

sheltron5000

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2009, 11:43:29 AM »
in most contexts "they" is the new preferred pronoun for indeterminate sex.
LSN

I'd love to join this LGBT club.  It's the Legos, Gobots, Barbies, and other Toys group, right?  I'll show up with an armful of toys.

archival

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Re: Referring to a fully mature female peer as a 'girl'
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2009, 11:48:09 AM »
I will continue to use masculine pronouns when referring to an indeterminate sex;

"Indeterminate"?  :D
But how do you deal with someone who rejects your broad moral principles?
I kill them.