Jump to content
MELE-MEL

Worst thing you've ever seen done in a round

Recommended Posts

I think guys is a pretty far call away from the n word

Yeah I'm not saying they're  equal, I'm saying the logic that discourse doesn't matter or that "it means as much as you think it means" allows for offensive language to be ok.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I'm not saying they're  equal, I'm saying the logic that discourse doesn't matter or that "it means as much as you think it means" allows for offensive language to be ok.

 

Its not that you get to choose what your words mean.  (I think Lewis Carroll adequately spoofs this idea of language in Alice in Wonderland).

 

At the same time, its not that language is fixed and permanent either.  That's adequately spoofed by "fag", which has inoffensive meanings in British English. There will be regional variation, and different communities will understand words differently.

 

Seriously, everyone needs to read Wittgenstein on language.  If you want to be taken seriously talking about philosophy of language, that's a minimum entrance requirement. 

 

The n-word has been aggressively politicized to the point that I doubt there's any community where the word is without racist overtones.  'Guys' is in a totally different ballpark, and I guarantee there are people who don't think of the word as being gendered.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's some etymology of the word "guy"

guy (n.1) dictionary.gif "rope, chain, wire," mid-14c., "leader," from Old French guie "a guide," from guier (see guide (v.)); or from a similar word in North Sea Germanic. The "rope" sense is nautical, first recorded 1620s. guy (n.2) dictionary.gif "fellow," 1847, originally American English; earlier (1836) "grotesquely or poorly dressed person," originally (1806) "effigy of Guy Fawkes," leader of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up British king and Parliament (Nov. 5, 1605), paraded through the streets by children on the anniversary of the conspiracy. The male proper name is from French, related to Italian Guido.
Guido dictionary.gif masc. proper name, Italian, literally "leader," of Germanic origin (see guide (v.)). As a type of gaudy machoism often associated with Italian-Americans, 1980s, teen slang, from the name of character in Hollywood film "Risky Business" (1983).
guide (v.) dictionary.gif late 14c., "to lead, direct, conduct," from Old French guider "to guide, lead, conduct" (14c.), earlier guier, from Frankish *witan "show the way" or a similar Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *wit- "to know" (cognates: German weisen "to show, point out," Old English witan "to see"), from PIE *weid- "to see" (see vision). The form of the French word influenced by Old Provençal guidar (n.) "guide, leader," or Italianguidare, both from the same source. Related: Guidedguiding.

 

Something else to keep in mind is that intent is also critical in language. If I call my friend an idiot, it doesn't mean that I genuinely think they're a bumbling fool for example. The thing is, the term "guy(s)" has disseminated to the point where it has no effective gender meaning with many speakers. It seems dubious at best to think that the debaters in the round used the term as an attempt to dominate the other team. I imagine you'd be hard pressed to find either a person who uses the term as an attempt at establishing patriarchy.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seriously, your argument leads to getting upset with British people for saying "fags" when they want a cigarette.

Yeah! If British people walked into an American gay bar and were like "the fags here are shit", there would still be a problem - whether or not they intended or meant "cigarettes" - because the signification of the term has a different meaning. 

 

The argument about language's fluidity misses the boat in two ways; first, language is mutually constituted not individually constituted, so how you're heard is as important (if not more important) than how you speak. Second, the argument isn't about etymology or definition - it's about the signification of the term and the signification of its use. "guys" refers to males. Your argument that it also refers to other things doesn't change the fact that it also refers to males. It's signification is inextricably tied to maleness. It's no surprise that maleness becomes the default intellectually when it's the default linguistically. Your words become your actions become your habits become your character.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah! If British people walked into an American gay bar and were like "the fags here are shit", there would still be a problem - whether or not they intended or meant "cigarettes" - because the signification of the term has a different meaning.

 

I agree, context matters.  The difference is that a policy debate is an inherently cross-context environment.  Both participants are outside their local community in which their language habits and understanding formed.  Might as well K someone for using "Coke" to mean soda or "Kleenex" to mean facial tissue.

 

In a cross-context environment, no participant has the right to unilaterally insist their familiar context is best.

 

The argument about language's fluidity misses the boat in two ways; first, language is mutually constituted not individually constituted, so how you're heard is as important (if not more important) than how you speak. Second, the argument isn't about etymology or definition - it's about the signification of the term and the signification of its use. "guys" refers to males. Your argument that it also refers to other things doesn't change the fact that it also refers to males. It's signification is inextricably tied to maleness. It's no surprise that maleness becomes the default intellectually when it's the default linguistically. Your words become your actions become your habits become your character.

 

Which is why I refer to communities of speakers in which "guys" is not 'male', not just sole speakers.  But its not how its heard that's important, its how you *expect to be heard*, which is usually based on the context in which you're accustomed to speaking.  If a particular context makes it obvious that you will be misunderstood (an English bloke in an American gay bar), you can and probably will be cognizant of the difference in meaning and adjust your speech appropriately.  But most of the time that same English person will say "fag" to mean cigarette, even in the US, without expecting to be misheard.

 

The signification of "Guy" is not inextricably tied to maleness.  It's tied to maleness in particular communities of speakers.  It is not tied to maleness in other communities of speakers.  And the word is not a typical point of conflict over word use in general American culture, so unlike your "fag" example, there's no reasonable expectation by the speaker that they will be misunderstood if they use it in the way they are accustomed to using it.

 

And if "Guys" is gender-neutral in your head, then you certainly aren't signifying maleness to yourself.  There's only maleness bias if you start with maleness bias.  Your impacts entirely depend on what the person is thinking in their own head when they make the utterance.

 

Seriously, consider the way the signification of the word "Gay" has changed over the last 100 years.  Significations are neither permanent nor inextricable.

Edited by Squirrelloid
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Snarf and a couple of other people

Yeah! If British people walked into an American gay bar and were like "the fags here are shit", there would still be a problem - whether or not they intended or meant "cigarettes" - because the signification of the term has a different meaning. 

You kinda put yourself in a double bind. You admit that it's meant one way, and if it's not meant to be partriarchal, how does it cause "masculinity"? Seriously, common person could actually become a halfway decent standard when it comes to G-Lang. And, frankly, I doubt that saying "you guys" in a debate round actually leads to oppression. Everyone here is focusing on "what if's", and taking things to extremes. Ask any girl you know, I'm doubtful that they are actually against being called "you guys". 

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Snarf and a couple of other people

You kinda put yourself in a double bind. You admit that it's meant one way, and if it's not meant to be partriarchal, how does it cause "masculinity"? Seriously, common person could actually become a halfway decent standard when it comes to G-Lang. And, frankly, I doubt that saying "you guys" in a debate round actually leads to oppression. Everyone here is focusing on "what if's", and taking things to extremes. Ask any girl you know, I'm doubtful that they are actually against being called "you guys". 

A lot more women than you would think. I definitely could name 5 who I've heard complain about the normative use of the word "guys" when referring to them, outside of a debate environment. 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Ask any girl you know, I'm doubtful that they are actually against being called "you guys". 

This is actually not true.

 

However, I do agree (as I said earlier) that saying "you guys" probably â€‹shouldn't offend anyone because hardly any people actually use it to denote masculinity, and if they do, they don't say it to girls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, context matters.  The difference is that a policy debate is an inherently cross-context environment.  Both participants are outside their local community in which their language habits and understanding formed.  Might as well K someone for using "Coke" to mean soda or "Kleenex" to mean facial tissue.

 

In a cross-context environment, no participant has the right to unilaterally insist their familiar context is best.

 

 

Which is why I refer to communities of speakers in which "guys" is not 'male', not just sole speakers.  But its not how its heard that's important, its how you *expect to be heard*, which is usually based on the context in which you're accustomed to speaking.  If a particular context makes it obvious that you will be misunderstood (an English bloke in an American gay bar), you can and probably will be cognizant of the difference in meaning and adjust your speech appropriately.  But most of the time that same English person will say "fag" to mean cigarette, even in the US, without expecting to be misheard.

 

The signification of "Guy" is not inextricably tied to maleness.  It's tied to maleness in particular communities of speakers.  It is not tied to maleness in other communities of speakers.  And the word is not a typical point of conflict over word use in general American culture, so unlike your "fag" example, there's no reasonable expectation by the speaker that they will be misunderstood if they use it in the way they are accustomed to using it.

 

And if "Guys" is gender-neutral in your head, then you certainly aren't signifying maleness to yourself.  There's only maleness bias if you start with maleness bias.  Your impacts entirely depend on what the person is thinking in their own head when they make the utterance.

 

Seriously, consider the way the signification of the word "Gay" has changed over the last 100 years.  Significations are neither permanent nor inextricable.

Expounding on this point, I know even some staunch feminists who use the term "guys" to refer to any group of people regardless of their biological or identity based gender. The term is not unequivocally or assumed by default to refer to men in many, and dare I say, most circles, nor does use of the word imply any underlying motives or carry with it heavy social baggage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know even some staunch feminists who use the term "guys" 

Some of my best friends are feminists, I swear guys! 

 

will respond on the merits @ other substance later, but the "I know some people of X oppressed subgroup who unverifiably agree with me" argument is dumb and should stay dead.

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of my best friends are feminists, I swear guys! 

 

will respond on the merits @ other substance later, but the "I know some people of X oppressed subgroup who unverifiably agree with me" argument is dumb and should stay dead.

I disagree with most of your points on gendered language (I'm too lazy to explain why since Squirreloid's said what i would) but I agree with this point for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I'm sure phyllis schlafly gives no shits about gendered language.

 

While i don't think you guys is a sufficient reason to lose a debate round and i think the K (and language K's in general) is net negative since it turns debate into a zone where people have to self-regulate their words, i try to avoid using you guys in life simply because its a polite and more accurate thing to do.  There isn't really an upside to going around saying "you guys lolololol why r u so offended"

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i think the K (and language K's in general) is net negative since it turns debate into a zone where people have to self-regulate their words

 

I fail to see why self-reflexivity, especially by privileged people (for instance, males) is bad - and I'm pretty sure that encouraging such critical reflection is good, even without the justice aspect. Should people not self-regulate their language? I don't have to think for long to find some examples where that would be disastrously problematic.

 

 

Lets say I refer to a group of people using guys.  The person i am talking to doesn't associate guys with maleness.  I don't associate guys with maleness.  Is this bad?

 

Yeah, it's pretty bad, and what I'm about to say could be cross-applied against many of the other posters. Do you disagree that society is male-biased, or in other words, patriarchal? Do you think that intent is the sole determinant of the meaning and coding of language and its effects?

 

In contextual terms: if the masculine is the norm (taken literally, normal; assumed neutral, as Snarf has already explained), then the use of the term "guys" (which has the etymological history of referring to masculine tropes such as leadership and machoism as Snarkosaurus was kind enough to inform us) as a "neutral" word, stripped from "maleness" on the intentional level but not the contextual one, indeed furthers the establishment of the male as the normal, and indeed normative, model for acting, performing - being, in general.

 

 

Its not that you get to choose what your words mean.  (I think Lewis Carroll adequately spoofs this idea of language in Alice in Wonderland).

 

At the same time, its not that language is fixed and permanent either.  That's adequately spoofed by "fag", which has inoffensive meanings in British English. There will be regional variation, and different communities will understand words differently.

 

Seriously, everyone needs to read Wittgenstein on language.  If you want to be taken seriously talking about philosophy of language, that's a minimum entrance requirement. 

 

The n-word has been aggressively politicized to the point that I doubt there's any community where the word is without racist overtones.  'Guys' is in a totally different ballpark, and I guarantee there are people who don't think of the word as being gendered.

 

This is a really interesting comment. I say this because Squirreloid begins by alluding to Alice in Wonderland, which does indeed foreshadow the poststructuralist approach to linguistics (a good passage on this, including the relevant excerpt of Carroll's text, can be found in pages 1-3 of Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction by Catherine Belsey), and effectively demonstrates why the intention of language is not nearly as important as its mutually constituted meaning...and then ends by saying that people don't think the word as being gendered. Obviously. The point, which Squirreloid and Carroll seem to agree upon, is that the social and cultural coding of that language determines its effects (and sheesh, I've yet to even cover why the gendering of "guys" is bad).

 

The point here is that insofar as the intent of the speaker saying "guys" (as superficially 'neutral') does not have a bearing on its effects, the fact that people have no understanding of its gendered origin, effect, and function is similarly irrelevant to the fact that it contributes to the masculinization of the normal, and the crowding out of feminine and cishetero-non-normative bodies, beings, and practices.

 

(The comment is also interesting because saying "read Wittgenstein" is far easier said than done! Maybe I'll get to him some day soon.)

 

Final quote:

 

Because people don't use "you guys" in a derogatory manner.  

 

Things like "you're such a girl!" as an insult is oppressive and bad.  But "you guys" just isn't oppressing people.  While it may not be a great thing to say, and I try to avoid saying it, it isn't a reason for teams to lose rounds.

 

These numbers are for organization, not to emulate "line-by-line" debating.

 

1. Utilizing a term "in a derogatory manner" has no effect on the fact that the effects of language are independent of intent. This work was done above, but bears repeating.

 

2. Misgendering people is impolite, disrespectful, and frankly heterosexist. In fact I think that this "guys" argument would be a lot less controversial if the term "guys" was used for non-gender-conforming, trans* or agender debaters; the difference in reception of the argument would sadly not surprise me.

 

Heterosexism is an oppression; heteropatriarchy is oppressive. In the particular instance of calling females "guys," it is not only the normalization of the masculine (this work was done above, but bears repeating) but also the erasure of femininity in the debate space, a space of liberation and self-expression and historically one of reclamation and of posing challenges to hegemonic orders, such as heteropatriarchy. Discursive violence is violence. There are so few womin qualified to the TOC or even the top speakers of tournaments; the assertive move of womin is denounced (and speaks are docked) for being "bitchy" or "aggressive." These are recognized things that womin and concerned debaters have expressed, to an extremely long extent, on the High School Policy Debate facebook group as well as other public spaces. Anyone can find first-hand accounts of reaction against the "guys" kritik as well as womin explaining, for themselves, why "guys" is sexist on your own with relative ease on these and other forums.

 

3. There is a fundamental problem with the "democratic" principles of supposedly liberal policy debate when disadvantaged people, e.g. womin, advocate for themselves in a competitive forum and are rebuffed when told that their discussions of personal experience (which are performatively correlated to the events of a particular debate, in this case one in which "guys" was used in reference to non-male) are insignificant, flawed, or unfit for discussion. This is constitutive of privilege and part-and-parcel of the maintenance of heteropatriarchal hegemony in cultural spaces, even the supposedly open-minded or liberal places such as the debate space.

 

To return to my original point, the fact that these experiences can be (and are) so easily and readily dismissed as "least favorite," "straight up dumb," or even "[not] causing oppression" is a reason that self-reflexivity is pretty rad and a good thing to cultivate in intellectual, inclusive, and beloved communities such as what the debate community ought to be and project upon the world around it - that is to say, the world of which we are constituent and constituting.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I fail to see why self-reflexivity, especially by privileged people (for instance, males) is bad - and I'm pretty sure that encouraging such critical reflection is good, even without the justice aspect. Should people not self-regulate their language? I don't have to think for long to find some examples where that would be disastrously problematic.

 

 

 

Yeah, it's pretty bad, and what I'm about to say could be cross-applied against many of the other posters. Do you disagree that society is male-biased, or in other words, patriarchal? Do you think that intent is the sole determinant of the meaning and coding of language and its effects?

 

In contextual terms: if the masculine is the norm (taken literally, normal; assumed neutral, as Snarf has already explained), then the use of the term "guys" (which has the etymological history of referring to masculine tropes such as leadership and machoism as Snarkosaurus was kind enough to inform us) as a "neutral" word, stripped from "maleness" on the intentional level but not the contextual one, indeed furthers the establishment of the male as the normal, and indeed normative, model for acting, performing - being, in general.

 

 
 

 

This is a really interesting comment. I say this because Squirreloid begins by alluding to Alice in Wonderland, which does indeed foreshadow the poststructuralist approach to linguistics (a good passage on this, including the relevant excerpt of Carroll's text, can be found in pages 1-3 of Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction by Catherine Belsey), and effectively demonstrates why the intention of language is not nearly as important as its mutually constituted meaning...and then ends by saying that people don't think the word as being gendered. Obviously. The point, which Squirreloid and Carroll seem to agree upon, is that the social and cultural coding of that language determines its effects (and sheesh, I've yet to even cover why the gendering of "guys" is bad).

 

The point here is that insofar as the intent of the speaker saying "guys" (as superficially 'neutral') does not have a bearing on its effects, the fact that people have no understanding of its gendered origin, effect, and function is similarly irrelevant to the fact that it contributes to the masculinization of the normal, and the crowding out of feminine and cishetero-non-normative bodies, beings, and practices.

 

(The comment is also interesting because saying "read Wittgenstein" is far easier said than done! Maybe I'll get to him some day soon.)

 

Final quote:

 
 

 

These numbers are for organization, not to emulate "line-by-line" debating.

 

1. Utilizing a term "in a derogatory manner" has no effect on the fact that the effects of language are independent of intent. This work was done above, but bears repeating.

 

2. Misgendering people is impolite, disrespectful, and frankly heterosexist. In fact I think that this "guys" argument would be a lot less controversial if the term "guys" was used for non-gender-conforming, trans* or agender debaters; the difference in reception of the argument would sadly not surprise me.

 

Heterosexism is an oppression; heteropatriarchy is oppressive. In the particular instance of calling females "guys," it is not only the normalization of the masculine (this work was done above, but bears repeating) but also the erasure of femininity in the debate space, a space of liberation and self-expression and historically one of reclamation and of posing challenges to hegemonic orders, such as heteropatriarchy. Discursive violence is violence. There are so few womin qualified to the TOC or even the top speakers of tournaments; the assertive move of womin is denounced (and speaks are docked) for being "bitchy" or "aggressive." These are recognized things that womin and concerned debaters have expressed, to an extremely long extent, on the High School Policy Debate facebook group as well as other public spaces. Anyone can find first-hand accounts of reaction against the "guys" kritik as well as womin explaining, for themselves, why "guys" is sexist on your own with relative ease on these and other forums.

 

3. There is a fundamental problem with the "democratic" principles of supposedly liberal policy debate when disadvantaged people, e.g. womin, advocate for themselves in a competitive forum and are rebuffed when told that their discussions of personal experience (which are performatively correlated to the events of a particular debate, in this case one in which "guys" was used in reference to non-male) are insignificant, flawed, or unfit for discussion. This is constitutive of privilege and part-and-parcel of the maintenance of heteropatriarchal hegemony in cultural spaces, even the supposedly open-minded or liberal places such as the debate space.

 

To return to my original point, the fact that these experiences can be (and are) so easily and readily dismissed as "least favorite," "straight up dumb," or even "[not] causing oppression" is a reason that self-reflexivity is pretty rad and a good thing to cultivate in intellectual, inclusive, and beloved communities such as what the debate community ought to be and project upon the world around it - that is to say, the world of which we are constituent and constituting.

If I ever read G-Lang, should that day ever come, I am going to use this post as evidence/extensions/blocks. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

This is a really interesting comment. I say this because Squirreloid begins by alluding to Alice in Wonderland, which does indeed foreshadow the poststructuralist approach to linguistics (a good passage on this, including the relevant excerpt of Carroll's text, can be found in pages 1-3 of Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction by Catherine Belsey), and effectively demonstrates why the intention of language is not nearly as important as its mutually constituted meaning...and then ends by saying that people don't think the word as being gendered. Obviously. The point, which Squirreloid and Carroll seem to agree upon, is that the social and cultural coding of that language determines its effects (and sheesh, I've yet to even cover why the gendering of "guys" is bad).

 

The point here is that insofar as the intent of the speaker saying "guys" (as superficially 'neutral') does not have a bearing on its effects, the fact that people have no understanding of its gendered origin, effect, and function is similarly irrelevant to the fact that it contributes to the masculinization of the normal, and the crowding out of feminine and cishetero-non-normative bodies, beings, and practices.

 

(The comment is also interesting because saying "read Wittgenstein" is far easier said than done! Maybe I'll get to him some day soon.)

 

Ug.  You know, my point really isn't that complicated.

 

So, yes, meaning isn't solely on the part of the speaker.  If I say "bax plax fax wax" and intend to mean something interpretable in english, that pretty clearly fails.

 

But you're pretending that meaning is permanently fixed, which is also clearly wrong.  We can look at ways language has changed over time.  We can look at different communities who speak the same language and yet use words differently.  Nothing is necessarily fixed in stone.

 

For different word usages across communities, in addition to the american/british difference on the use of 'fag', there are plenty of others beside.  We can also look at regional US dialects and observe differences in pronunciation (ask people who grew up in different places how they pronounce "Mary", "Merry", and "Marry", and how many of those they think are different).  We can observe differences in word choices ("Coke" vs. "Soda" vs. "Pop" or "Couch" vs. Sofa" or "Bubbler" vs. "Water Fountain").  

 

For changes over time, there are a large number of words that no longer mean what they used to mean.  "Gay" is an obvious example, whose meaning has shifted over the last 50-75 years.  "Anticipate" has also changed noticeably.  The most amusing example is perhaps "Protest", whose meaning has done a 180 and is pretty much the reverse of what it meant in Shakespeare's day.  (This makes "The lady doth protest too much" perhaps the most misused quote of all time).  

 

That words change over time -- and change significantly -- proves that words don't carry around their etymology, meaning, signification, or any other property you care to say carries this gendered connotation.  

 

------------------------

 

So how does language actually work.  While I can't assemble arbitrary words to communicate meaning, intent still matters.  The people I'm speaking to aren't in my head to shape my utterance.  But the primary intent is to communicate an idea, and so a speaker will choose words they believe will communicate that idea.   But where does that expectation come from? 

 

Effectively, who is the community that helps constitute expectations of meaning?

 

A community, in this case, is at least two people who communicate with words.  Now, at the smaller end, the people involved are aware of their creative role in the development of language.  Think about in-jokes, or complicated ideas or emotions you can convey to those closest to you with just a single word.  Because the speaker is aware of their role in development at this scale, they also know the limits of the audience who will actually understand utterances made in this kind of context.

 

At some point, the constitutive community gets large enough that the fact the community is engaged in reinterpretation of language becomes lost.  Its too big for the individual to notice that word useage is shifting.  In fact, for younger speakers, they wouldn't even have a basis for comparison.  This community size is not that large - it's about the size of a small town.  Now, most of these groups aren't perfectly isolated, so there will be communication at the edges that keeps change from just running away over short time periods, but most of us interact with a relatively limited number of individuals on a regular basis - especially as we're growing up.  

 

So, imagine for a moment a community where, sometime say ~40 years ago, individuals in a town or neighborhood start using "Guys" for both genders.  It catches on.  Young people growing up in the community learn that useage, detached from its gendered past.  In 40 years, younger speakers will have no conception it was ever gendered.  And as its a basic everyday-type word, the way they think about it will be established well before they finish elementary school.  It will have lost all gender connotations for them, and learning it once had those connotations will make little difference in word useage.  (Just like learning "gay" used to mean "happy" won't change anyone's use of that word today).

 

And yes, radio and TV means we can observe language in a more homogenized way now, but neither of these allow us to *practice* our language - which is critical to cementing meaning in our head.  Its the feedback we get when we use words and are successfully understood which is most critical for shaping language use, which means most people really are learning word useage in relatively small communities when they're young, even if they grow up in large cities.

 

This also means that debate tournaments are cross-language-community, effectively.  Yeah, local tournaments might have similar language practices between communities, but there will be small nuances in understanding of words which will differ.  Gendering of a word like "guys", for example.  Regional and national tournaments will increase the diversity of language communities which are represented.  At the same time, our effective community size keeps increasing as we get older and talk with more people - but that affects our intuitive understanding of new words, not old ones.  Words we've already mastered are reasonably fixed.  So your 1st grade vocabulary is understood from the context of the relatively small world you occupied in 1st grade, and your high school vocabulary is understood from the context of the much larger world you occupy in high school. (And so on).  

 

So when we construct utterances, we base them on our expectations generated by the communities in which we learned to use the words spoken.  When those expectations differ, neither the speaker nor the listener are in the wrong.  The listeners don't have a monopoly on what was meant, just like the speaker doesn't have a monopoly on what was meant.  And the history of the word is irrelevant except as it contributed to the evolution of the use of the word in all the relevant communities.  That it once meant something is only one snapshot on the way to whatever it currently means - if it no longer means that to the community involved in communication, then it no longer means that.

 

Basically, you're always talking to communities you've spoken within before, not the community you're currently addressing.  Successful communication will depend on how similar those contexts are.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ug.  You know, my point really isn't that complicated.

 

So, yes, meaning isn't solely on the part of the speaker.  If I say "bax plax fax wax" and intend to mean something interpretable in english, that pretty clearly fails.

 

But you're pretending that meaning is permanently fixed, which is also clearly wrong.  We can look at ways language has changed over time.  We can look at different communities who speak the same language and yet use words differently.  Nothing is necessarily fixed in stone.

 

For different word usages across communities, in addition to the american/british difference on the use of 'fag', there are plenty of others beside.  We can also look at regional US dialects and observe differences in pronunciation (ask people who grew up in different places how they pronounce "Mary", "Merry", and "Marry", and how many of those they think are different).  We can observe differences in word choices ("Coke" vs. "Soda" vs. "Pop" or "Couch" vs. Sofa" or "Bubbler" vs. "Water Fountain").  

 

For changes over time, there are a large number of words that no longer mean what they used to mean.  "Gay" is an obvious example, whose meaning has shifted over the last 50-75 years.  "Anticipate" has also changed noticeably.  The most amusing example is perhaps "Protest", whose meaning has done a 180 and is pretty much the reverse of what it meant in Shakespeare's day.  (This makes "The lady doth protest too much" perhaps the most misused quote of all time).  

 

That words change over time -- and change significantly -- proves that words don't carry around their etymology, meaning, signification, or any other property you care to say carries this gendered connotation.  

 

------------------------

 

So how does language actually work.  While I can't assemble arbitrary words to communicate meaning, intent still matters.  The people I'm speaking to aren't in my head to shape my utterance.  But the primary intent is to communicate an idea, and so a speaker will choose words they believe will communicate that idea.   But where does that expectation come from? 

 

Effectively, who is the community that helps constitute expectations of meaning?

 

A community, in this case, is at least two people who communicate with words.  Now, at the smaller end, the people involved are aware of their creative role in the development of language.  Think about in-jokes, or complicated ideas or emotions you can convey to those closest to you with just a single word.  Because the speaker is aware of their role in development at this scale, they also know the limits of the audience who will actually understand utterances made in this kind of context.

 

At some point, the constitutive community gets large enough that the fact the community is engaged in reinterpretation of language becomes lost.  Its too big for the individual to notice that word useage is shifting.  In fact, for younger speakers, they wouldn't even have a basis for comparison.  This community size is not that large - it's about the size of a small town.  Now, most of these groups aren't perfectly isolated, so there will be communication at the edges that keeps change from just running away over short time periods, but most of us interact with a relatively limited number of individuals on a regular basis - especially as we're growing up.  

 

So, imagine for a moment a community where, sometime say ~40 years ago, individuals in a town or neighborhood start using "Guys" for both genders.  It catches on.  Young people growing up in the community learn that useage, detached from its gendered past.  In 40 years, younger speakers will have no conception it was ever gendered.  And as its a basic everyday-type word, the way they think about it will be established well before they finish elementary school.  It will have lost all gender connotations for them, and learning it once had those connotations will make little difference in word useage.  (Just like learning "gay" used to mean "happy" won't change anyone's use of that word today).

 

And yes, radio and TV means we can observe language in a more homogenized way now, but neither of these allow us to *practice* our language - which is critical to cementing meaning in our head.  Its the feedback we get when we use words and are successfully understood which is most critical for shaping language use, which means most people really are learning word useage in relatively small communities when they're young, even if they grow up in large cities.

 

This also means that debate tournaments are cross-language-community, effectively.  Yeah, local tournaments might have similar language practices between communities, but there will be small nuances in understanding of words which will differ.  Gendering of a word like "guys", for example.  Regional and national tournaments will increase the diversity of language communities which are represented.  At the same time, our effective community size keeps increasing as we get older and talk with more people - but that affects our intuitive understanding of new words, not old ones.  Words we've already mastered are reasonably fixed.  So your 1st grade vocabulary is understood from the context of the relatively small world you occupied in 1st grade, and your high school vocabulary is understood from the context of the much larger world you occupy in high school. (And so on).  

 

So when we construct utterances, we base them on our expectations generated by the communities in which we learned to use the words spoken.  When those expectations differ, neither the speaker nor the listener are in the wrong.  The listeners don't have a monopoly on what was meant, just like the speaker doesn't have a monopoly on what was meant.  And the history of the word is irrelevant except as it contributed to the evolution of the use of the word in all the relevant communities.  That it once meant something is only one snapshot on the way to whatever it currently means - if it no longer means that to the community involved in communication, then it no longer means that.

 

Basically, you're always talking to communities you've spoken within before, not the community you're currently addressing.  Successful communication will depend on how similar those contexts are.

My new A2: Glang author. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Me and my partner were against a REALLY bad Lane Tech team at Illinois Novice State and we looked at each other and said "Troll?"

 

During the 1ACs cross-x I asked a bunch of neolib-ish questions: "are you expanding corporate interests" "is your plan neolib" etc. The 1A looked me straight in the eye and said: "We already know you're doing neolib". I looked at my partner and said "oh shit, they've got us"! When the 1NC was flashed they were so confused and had no idea what was going on. They took 4 minutes to get their death good answers for the 2AC. None of them linked and we made fun of them during cross-x of the 2AC. The block was Taoism for 8 minutes and impact defense for 5 minutes. 

 

I lead them on SOOOO well, unfortunately it was a split.      :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the random gendered language issue- I think that in the terms of language K's saying "You Guys" is one of the examples where it's not particularly persuasive. I think that the context matters a lot for these types of debates, and if someone slips up, I don't think it's a reason to lose if you accidentally say guys. But it could be a reason if someone said something that is blatantly sexist like a kitchen joke, or something similar in response to their opponent.

 

Intent is important. If the phrase, or word is in a card or slips out accidentally, call the other person out, let them explain themselves, apologize, ect. If they aren't apologetic or escalate, or even continue after correction, sure read the argument. I think the arguments people made earlier of policing language are true, and kind of problematic, especially when you have to deal with people who just don't know about these issues- what is more likely to get someone to change their behavior or apologize? Explaining to them that they said something offensive and not making an issue of it unless they do? Or throwing down a hammer from nowhere and saying they should lose for saying something that they may have never known was an issue at all?

 

But I think policing language is bad, similarly to how striking through the word in a card, or "editing for gendered language" is also kind of silly. Not to say that people shouldn't try to find evidence that doesn't say offensive things, and that would be a better alternative than changing the words that an author wrote in a way that could drastically shift the evidence.

 

Ug.  You know, my point really isn't that complicated.

 

So, yes, meaning isn't solely on the part of the speaker.  If I say "bax plax fax wax" and intend to mean something interpretable in english, that pretty clearly fails.

 

But you're pretending that meaning is permanently fixed, which is also clearly wrong.  We can look at ways language has changed over time.  We can look at different communities who speak the same language and yet use words differently.  Nothing is necessarily fixed in stone.

 

For different word usages across communities, in addition to the american/british difference on the use of 'fag', there are plenty of others beside.  We can also look at regional US dialects and observe differences in pronunciation (ask people who grew up in different places how they pronounce "Mary", "Merry", and "Marry", and how many of those they think are different).  We can observe differences in word choices ("Coke" vs. "Soda" vs. "Pop" or "Couch" vs. Sofa" or "Bubbler" vs. "Water Fountain").  

 

For changes over time, there are a large number of words that no longer mean what they used to mean.  "Gay" is an obvious example, whose meaning has shifted over the last 50-75 years.  "Anticipate" has also changed noticeably.  The most amusing example is perhaps "Protest", whose meaning has done a 180 and is pretty much the reverse of what it meant in Shakespeare's day.  (This makes "The lady doth protest too much" perhaps the most misused quote of all time).  

 

That words change over time -- and change significantly -- proves that words don't carry around their etymology, meaning, signification, or any other property you care to say carries this gendered connotation.  

 

------------------------

 

So how does language actually work.  While I can't assemble arbitrary words to communicate meaning, intent still matters.  The people I'm speaking to aren't in my head to shape my utterance.  But the primary intent is to communicate an idea, and so a speaker will choose words they believe will communicate that idea.   But where does that expectation come from? 

 

Effectively, who is the community that helps constitute expectations of meaning?

 

A community, in this case, is at least two people who communicate with words.  Now, at the smaller end, the people involved are aware of their creative role in the development of language.  Think about in-jokes, or complicated ideas or emotions you can convey to those closest to you with just a single word.  Because the speaker is aware of their role in development at this scale, they also know the limits of the audience who will actually understand utterances made in this kind of context.

 

At some point, the constitutive community gets large enough that the fact the community is engaged in reinterpretation of language becomes lost.  Its too big for the individual to notice that word useage is shifting.  In fact, for younger speakers, they wouldn't even have a basis for comparison.  This community size is not that large - it's about the size of a small town.  Now, most of these groups aren't perfectly isolated, so there will be communication at the edges that keeps change from just running away over short time periods, but most of us interact with a relatively limited number of individuals on a regular basis - especially as we're growing up.  

 

So, imagine for a moment a community where, sometime say ~40 years ago, individuals in a town or neighborhood start using "Guys" for both genders.  It catches on.  Young people growing up in the community learn that useage, detached from its gendered past.  In 40 years, younger speakers will have no conception it was ever gendered.  And as its a basic everyday-type word, the way they think about it will be established well before they finish elementary school.  It will have lost all gender connotations for them, and learning it once had those connotations will make little difference in word useage.  (Just like learning "gay" used to mean "happy" won't change anyone's use of that word today).

 

And yes, radio and TV means we can observe language in a more homogenized way now, but neither of these allow us to *practice* our language - which is critical to cementing meaning in our head.  Its the feedback we get when we use words and are successfully understood which is most critical for shaping language use, which means most people really are learning word useage in relatively small communities when they're young, even if they grow up in large cities.

 

This also means that debate tournaments are cross-language-community, effectively.  Yeah, local tournaments might have similar language practices between communities, but there will be small nuances in understanding of words which will differ.  Gendering of a word like "guys", for example.  Regional and national tournaments will increase the diversity of language communities which are represented.  At the same time, our effective community size keeps increasing as we get older and talk with more people - but that affects our intuitive understanding of new words, not old ones.  Words we've already mastered are reasonably fixed.  So your 1st grade vocabulary is understood from the context of the relatively small world you occupied in 1st grade, and your high school vocabulary is understood from the context of the much larger world you occupy in high school. (And so on).  

 

So when we construct utterances, we base them on our expectations generated by the communities in which we learned to use the words spoken.  When those expectations differ, neither the speaker nor the listener are in the wrong.  The listeners don't have a monopoly on what was meant, just like the speaker doesn't have a monopoly on what was meant.  And the history of the word is irrelevant except as it contributed to the evolution of the use of the word in all the relevant communities.  That it once meant something is only one snapshot on the way to whatever it currently means - if it no longer means that to the community involved in communication, then it no longer means that.

 

Basically, you're always talking to communities you've spoken within before, not the community you're currently addressing.  Successful communication will depend on how similar those contexts are.

This. This makes a lot of sense.

  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the random gendered language issue- I think that in the terms of language K's saying "You Guys" is one of the examples where it's not particularly persuasive. I think that the context matters a lot for these types of debates, and if someone slips up, I don't think it's a reason to lose if you accidentally say guys. But it could be a reason if someone said something that is blatantly sexist like a kitchen joke, or something similar in response to their opponent.

 

Intent is important. If the phrase, or word is in a card or slips out accidentally, call the other person out, let them explain themselves, apologize, ect. If they aren't apologetic or escalate, or even continue after correction, sure read the argument. I think the arguments people made earlier of policing language are true, and kind of problematic, especially when you have to deal with people who just don't know about these issues- what is more likely to get someone to change their behavior or apologize? Explaining to them that they said something offensive and not making an issue of it unless they do? Or throwing down a hammer from nowhere and saying they should lose for saying something that they may have never known was an issue at all?

 

But I think policing language is bad, similarly to how striking through the word in a card, or "editing for gendered language" is also kind of silly. Not to say that people shouldn't try to find evidence that doesn't say offensive things, and that would be a better alternative than changing the words that an author wrote in a way that could drastically shift the evidence.

 

Most don't think it's a reason to vote against them if it's accidental and there's an apology. It's tough to break habits, I understand that, and I think any reasonable person that is earnestly interested in the criticism of gendered language would agree.

 

That brings me to where it would be a problem, which is also where you collapse two different meanings of "intent" in this context. One could "intend" to use the phrase in a neutrally-gendered way (like Squirreloid defends here), or one could "intend" to use it, not realizing (or simply not agreeing that) gendered language is bad; this latter part is when in-round someone might say, "I didn't mean to say that, it was an accident." Repeat offenses make this probably a voting issue, and outright noncompliance magnifies the reason to critique and reject the practice. I agree that this latter type of intent (that accidents should be excused with stern reminders), is important, but the former is crap.

 

 

Ug.  You know, my point really isn't that complicated.

 

I agree, I really do. I do know your point, and it's not complicated, in fact we've been over it (albeit in far less than 1,000+ words) and you're iterated it before. I don't mean to offend, but while you've said a lot here, you've not responded much to anything I or Snarf has had to say.

 

Snarf and I have both, in our most recent comments, argued against the idea that "meaning is permanently fixed." Remember when he mentioned how language is "mutually constituted", or when I used that same phrase and said that "the social and cultural coding of that language determines its effects"? That's pretty obviously not the meaning of permanent fixation, so I'm not sure who exactly you're criticizing.

 

This different word usage stuff is uncontroversial, and you're repeating your earlier comments as well. I think your examples aren't similar enough to "guy" though. The meaning of "gay" meant something entirely different, and wasn't even a noun, a hundred years ago. "Guys (male)" and "guys (neutral)" is hardly as significant a change. Further, "gay" doesn't mean "carefree" or "joyful" anywhere anymore. Even if wherever a particular person is from, it's ubiquitously accepted that "guys" is genderless (and I'm skeptical of both the truth of such a positive statement and whether or not anyone could know such a thing with certainty), there are regional distinctions that make erring on the side of caution the obviously least contentious and most safe choice on balance.

 

In fact, your whole thought experiment about the community where "guys" becomes genderless is too speculative to put any amount of faith in. Do you have any proof that this actually happened? (Interesting aside: front page of google on "define guy" brought me to a post on englishforums.com in which a female anon poster shared that "As a woman, I hate being called 'you guys' and I know other women do, too.")

 

The fact that debate tournaments span regions and language communities doesn't mean that violent use and interpretation of language is meaningless or somehow less important. Nobody claims a monopoly on what was meant, just the effect. I'm repeating myself here, but apparently you've not understood: what was meant does not matter. The effects of the utterance are where critical analysis should focus. The effect of erasing cishetero-non-normativity; the effect of making female and queer debaters uncomfortable; the effect of cementing male privilege and male normativity; the effect of normalizing masculinity. Probably most importantly is the effect of letting men believe that they are simply a "snapshot" or a "cobblestone" on the path to a gender-neutral paradise where if men just say "guys" with good intentions enough, maybe everyone will do like men do and men won't have to change their habits and behaviors. This and even the fact of using "guys" against womin (in particular against womin who critique the practice) echoes the patriarchal background of history, cultural representation, social and civic participation, and more that have plagued womin and queer bodies at the broadest levels of analysis.

 

In other words, "K outweighs." Here I'd re-quote my #2 and #3 from my last comment, but you can scroll up and read them again instead of me making this page even longer to scroll through.

 

At the end of the day, when somebody tells you not to call them something, just don't do it. It's not difficult. Use a different word. I like y'all, but "you" is plural and "you all" works just as well. Seriously, new vocabulary solves 100%...

Edited by dancon25

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ug.  You know, my point really isn't that complicated.

 

So, yes, meaning isn't solely on the part of the speaker.  If I say "bax plax fax wax" and intend to mean something interpretable in english, that pretty clearly fails.

 

But you're pretending that meaning is permanently fixed, which is also clearly wrong.  We can look at ways language has changed over time.  We can look at different communities who speak the same language and yet use words differently.  Nothing is necessarily fixed in stone.

 

For different word usages across communities, in addition to the american/british difference on the use of 'fag', there are plenty of others beside.  We can also look at regional US dialects and observe differences in pronunciation (ask people who grew up in different places how they pronounce "Mary", "Merry", and "Marry", and how many of those they think are different).  We can observe differences in word choices ("Coke" vs. "Soda" vs. "Pop" or "Couch" vs. Sofa" or "Bubbler" vs. "Water Fountain").  

 

For changes over time, there are a large number of words that no longer mean what they used to mean.  "Gay" is an obvious example, whose meaning has shifted over the last 50-75 years.  "Anticipate" has also changed noticeably.  The most amusing example is perhaps "Protest", whose meaning has done a 180 and is pretty much the reverse of what it meant in Shakespeare's day.  (This makes "The lady doth protest too much" perhaps the most misused quote of all time).  

 

That words change over time -- and change significantly -- proves that words don't carry around their etymology, meaning, signification, or any other property you care to say carries this gendered connotation.  

 

------------------------

 

So how does language actually work.  While I can't assemble arbitrary words to communicate meaning, intent still matters.  The people I'm speaking to aren't in my head to shape my utterance.  But the primary intent is to communicate an idea, and so a speaker will choose words they believe will communicate that idea.   But where does that expectation come from? 

 

Effectively, who is the community that helps constitute expectations of meaning?

 

A community, in this case, is at least two people who communicate with words.  Now, at the smaller end, the people involved are aware of their creative role in the development of language.  Think about in-jokes, or complicated ideas or emotions you can convey to those closest to you with just a single word.  Because the speaker is aware of their role in development at this scale, they also know the limits of the audience who will actually understand utterances made in this kind of context.

 

At some point, the constitutive community gets large enough that the fact the community is engaged in reinterpretation of language becomes lost.  Its too big for the individual to notice that word useage is shifting.  In fact, for younger speakers, they wouldn't even have a basis for comparison.  This community size is not that large - it's about the size of a small town.  Now, most of these groups aren't perfectly isolated, so there will be communication at the edges that keeps change from just running away over short time periods, but most of us interact with a relatively limited number of individuals on a regular basis - especially as we're growing up.  

 

So, imagine for a moment a community where, sometime say ~40 years ago, individuals in a town or neighborhood start using "Guys" for both genders.  It catches on.  Young people growing up in the community learn that useage, detached from its gendered past.  In 40 years, younger speakers will have no conception it was ever gendered.  And as its a basic everyday-type word, the way they think about it will be established well before they finish elementary school.  It will have lost all gender connotations for them, and learning it once had those connotations will make little difference in word useage.  (Just like learning "gay" used to mean "happy" won't change anyone's use of that word today).

 

And yes, radio and TV means we can observe language in a more homogenized way now, but neither of these allow us to *practice* our language - which is critical to cementing meaning in our head.  Its the feedback we get when we use words and are successfully understood which is most critical for shaping language use, which means most people really are learning word useage in relatively small communities when they're young, even if they grow up in large cities.

 

This also means that debate tournaments are cross-language-community, effectively.  Yeah, local tournaments might have similar language practices between communities, but there will be small nuances in understanding of words which will differ.  Gendering of a word like "guys", for example.  Regional and national tournaments will increase the diversity of language communities which are represented.  At the same time, our effective community size keeps increasing as we get older and talk with more people - but that affects our intuitive understanding of new words, not old ones.  Words we've already mastered are reasonably fixed.  So your 1st grade vocabulary is understood from the context of the relatively small world you occupied in 1st grade, and your high school vocabulary is understood from the context of the much larger world you occupy in high school. (And so on).  

 

So when we construct utterances, we base them on our expectations generated by the communities in which we learned to use the words spoken.  When those expectations differ, neither the speaker nor the listener are in the wrong.  The listeners don't have a monopoly on what was meant, just like the speaker doesn't have a monopoly on what was meant.  And the history of the word is irrelevant except as it contributed to the evolution of the use of the word in all the relevant communities.  That it once meant something is only one snapshot on the way to whatever it currently means - if it no longer means that to the community involved in communication, then it no longer means that.

 

Basically, you're always talking to communities you've spoken within before, not the community you're currently addressing.  Successful communication will depend on how similar those contexts are.

 

I protest this

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the end of the day, when somebody tells you not to call them something, just don't do it. It's not difficult. Use a different word. I like y'all, but "you" is plural and "you all" works just as well. Seriously, new vocabulary solves 100%...

 

So, before anything else, I agree with this sentiment entirely.  If someone asks you not to do something when addressing them, it is simply *polite* to comply.  This applies whether its the use of "guys" in a way they don't like, the proper way of addressing them, or anything else.  When someone asks you to call them "Mrs Smith", or "Nicole", or "Nicky" - you should refer to them as they have asked.  Similarly, all other modes of address.

 

Snarf and I have both, in our most recent comments, argued against the idea that "meaning is permanently fixed." Remember when he mentioned how language is "mutually constituted", or when I used that same phrase and said that "the social and cultural coding of that language determines its effects"? That's pretty obviously not the meaning of permanent fixation, so I'm not sure who exactly you're criticizing.

 

But then you try to fix culture, by pretending that "guys" has, and has only ever had, and will only ever have but a single gender signification.  That effectively tries to permanently fix meaning through the backdoor.  

 

A key part of my last post is that the socio-culture--the language-community--which codes language for individual use is relatively small.

 

This different word usage stuff is uncontroversial, and you're repeating your earlier comments as well. I think your examples aren't similar enough to "guy" though. The meaning of "gay" meant something entirely different, and wasn't even a noun, a hundred years ago. "Guys (male)" and "guys (neutral)" is hardly as significant a change.

 

If its a less significant change, shouldn't it be easier?

 

But the change in use of "anticipate" is about on the same order of magnitude.  Originally, anticipate meant to have acted in a way that demonstrated foreknowledge.  Today, it is mostly used interchangeably with 'expect'.  Compare:

 

"He anticipated long lines by arriving early"

"He arrived early because he anticipated long lines"

 

The first is the older usage.  The second--but not the first--could be replaced by "expect" with no loss of meaning.  It's a subtle shift, and it happened in the last 100 years.

 

In fact, your whole thought experiment about the community where "guys" becomes genderless is too speculative to put any amount of faith in. Do you have any proof that this actually happened? (Interesting aside: front page of google on "define guy" brought me to a post on englishforums.com in which a female anon poster shared that "As a woman, I hate being called 'you guys' and I know other women do, too.")

 

I've seen a teenage girl, speaking to only female friends, use "hey guys".  Now, I'm not inside her head, but I'm reasonably certain she didn't believe they were actually men.  In fact, I've seen it several times, by several speakers.  (And in my limited experience, women who use the word "guys" at all are more likely to use it to refer to a mixed group than men are.)

 

While that poster may hate it, and may know other women who do, she doesn't know that all women think about it that way.  And while I don't know this, it's likely that the other women she's heard that from share a socio-cultural context with her (which makes the similarity of attitude not independent).  I have (several, similarly anecdotal, but with independent instances) reasons to believe not all women do.

 

(Speakers should still refrain from referring to her with "guys" after being asked).

 

See also: 

http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/11816/is-guy-gender-neutral - seems to distinguish between "guys" as gender neutral and "guy" as male.  Language use is what it is, and those are people expressing how they actually think about the word.

 

http://jvns.ca/blog/2013/12/27/guys-guys-guys/ - has Methodological issues, the most important of which she didn't address (how widely does it actually survey language use as distributed by geography/community), but as a quick-and-dirty first pass, it has some value. Certainly it speaks to how some people think, even if its probably not valid to statistically extrapolate to general populations.  Most interesting was that context affected how gender neutral the perception of "guy/s" was.  But the vast majority of respondents, even female respondents, felt that a general greeting like "hey guys" is gender neutral, which is probably the comparable case for "you guys".

 

I mean, there are certainly plenty of people who complain about "guys" being gendered on the internet too, but that just proves that there are multiple different language cultures within the English-speaking world.  (Shouldn't be a surprise, right?)

 

The fact that debate tournaments span regions and language communities doesn't mean that violent use and interpretation of language is meaningless or somehow less important. Nobody claims a monopoly on what was meant, just the effect. I'm repeating myself here, but apparently you've not understood: what was meant does not matter. The effects of the utterance are where critical analysis should focus. The effect of erasing cishetero-non-normativity; the effect of making female and queer debaters uncomfortable; the effect of cementing male privilege and male normativity; the effect of normalizing masculinity. Probably most importantly is the effect of letting men believe that they are simply a "snapshot" or a "cobblestone" on the path to a gender-neutral paradise where if men just say "guys" with good intentions enough, maybe everyone will do like men do and men won't have to change their habits and behaviors. This and even the fact of using "guys" against womin (in particular against womin who critique the practice) echoes the patriarchal background of history, cultural representation, social and civic participation, and more that have plagued womin and queer bodies at the broadest levels of analysis.

 

Underlined: All of these only have these effects if you believe "you guys" is gendered.  For someone who doesn't believe it is gendered, there's no impact to any of these, because there's no masculinity or male privilege associated with the utterance in their head.  This is why the relatively small size of language-communities is important--signification is neither universal nor constant.

 

I know we seem to hate thought experiments, but imagine a non-English speaker in a foreign country whose only access to English is media.  They see an American movie which uses "you guys" in an agendered way.  They start using the phrase with their friends. (Practice -> mastery).  They have absolutely no idea what the history of the word was - their use is truly and purely agender.  "You guys" is just an arbitrary phrase to them, it doesn't have a past beyond 'we saw it in this movie'.  While American language-communities aren't that isolated, most people don't look up etymologies.  People's ideas about proper language use are entirely based upon how they learned that language in the first place.  That "you guys" is gendered is contingent on local usage when learned, and that seems far from universal.

 

Now, as far as making female and queer debaters uncomfortable, they can and should ask that they not be referred to with "guys".  But they don't get a say in how other people are addressed - form of address is a personal choice.  It would be like one teacher taking umbrage because another teacher lets students refer to her by her first name.  The first teacher may think its proper for students to refer to teachers by last name with an honorific (Mrs. Smith, Mr. Anderson, etc...), but they don't have a say in how other teachers choose to be addressed.  (And yes, I've known adults who are offended by other adults telling children to use their first name).  If we agree that personal address is personal, then that applies to acceptability of expressions like "you guys" too.

 

Anyway, bottom line is that none of this is a reason why using "you guys" the first time should be offensive or cause to lose a round.  People who dislike the phrase should ask they not be referred to in that way.  (If use intentionally persists, that is a reason to be offended).  Speakers should be sensitive to the address etiquette of people they're talking to as soon as they become aware of it, but those addressed should also be sensitive to the fact that different language-communities have different standards, and rather than get horribly offended at the first instant, they should instead ask for the speaker to avoid that mode of address.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before I comment, a disclaimer: I dislike random language Ks, and I think that there should be indisputable reason to believe that the language being K'd is inherently and intentionally (note: BOTH) sexist/racist/exclusionary before even being considered.So I'm biased as hell. And, to iterate a point I often make during debates and in regular life, all of reality is socially constructed. My socially-constructed reality has led me to see "guys" as gender-neutral. (Yes, I read "This Ballot." I had been using this phrase since before then, though.)

 

I agree with Squirrelroid. I feel like rejection alts are pretty damned dumb when used against the use of "guys." That's worse than me K-ing a team for saying that I'm black, rather than African American, or the other way around. It's just complaints, really. I mean, a real alternative would be an ultimatum of apology that would result in a voter if denied or dropped. And then, I really would not apologize. Not if the argument was run in the interest of wins without a sincere demand for an apology because of accidental sexism. I know, it's difficult to attempt to determine sincerity. But these arguments should never be run for simple wins. Especially not for small-language miscues like "guys" and the like.

 

I also feel that there is some reverse bias in here. Why is it that one particular reality overrides another, and can be imposed on people who want nothing to do with it, simply because someone doesn't like it? That is amount to a supreme language that has no regard for background or culture. Which, as we all know, does not exist, and never will exist. That would be actively oppressive. My discourse is just as important as anyone else's, regardless of what my upbringing and my personal view of the world has me call others in regards to their gender. If my personal preference is to call a group of people "guys," then that means nothing. How about we ban Spanish? I mean, "ellos" is masculine, and is used for both a group of men and a group with both genders. See how absurd that is? An entire language defaults to masculinity, and there's no issue. Not one that I've encountered, at least. That's the way the language evolved. And this is how "guys" evolved. It's a unisex word for a large portion of society, and they shouldn't be punished for the use of the word in the way they best know it. That's not self-reflection. That's demanding needless conformity with the guise of political correctness. (I NEVER thought I'd say that.)

Edited by Temporal
  • Upvote 3
  • Downvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the random gendered language issue- I think that in the terms of language K's saying "You Guys" is one of the examples where it's not particularly persuasive. I think that the context matters a lot for these types of debates, and if someone slips up, I don't think it's a reason to lose if you accidentally say guys. But it could be a reason if someone said something that is blatantly sexist like a kitchen joke, or something similar in response to their opponent.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...