Be­ing gen­der neu­tral will mean big rewrites

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION -

If fully im­ple­mented, the Trudeau gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to gen­der-neu­tral lan­guage could work won­ders in the arts, whether vis­ual, per­form­ing or lit­er­ary.

Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, the Amer­i­can por­trait “Whistler’s Mother” and the Es­to­nian sculp­ture “Fa­ther and Son.” Will Cana­di­ans be ex­pected to call them “Whistler’s Par­ent One” and “Par­ent Two and Son” or, more po­lit­i­cally cor­rect, “Par­ent Two and Off­spring ?”

Might Trudeau’s tex­tual revo­lu­tion give us an English play “Voy­age Round My Par­ent Two” and an Amer­i­can film “Throw Par­ent One from the Train?” What about Mother Goose with her fairy tales and nurs­ery rhymes? I don’t even want to think about the changes fairy god­moth­ers may be in for.

On St. Patrick’s Day, will Cana­di­ans be ex­pected to sing “God bless you and keep you, Par­ent One Machree” or on In­ter­na­tional Coun­try Mu­sic Day, will we suc­cumb to “Sil­ver Haired Par­ent Two of Mine?”

The re­vised ver­sions fail to pre­serve the emo­tional tex­ture of the orig­i­nals. Where, pray tell, is the drama in “I Saw Par­ent One Kiss­ing Santa Claus”, es­pe­cially the clos­ing lines, “Oh, what a laugh it would have been if par­ent two had only seen par­ent one kiss­ing Santa Claus last night.”

As a child, I re­mem­ber cel­e­brat­ing my mother in song: “M is for the mil­lion things she gave me” and so on through the other five let­ters. “Put them all to­gether they spell ...” not par­ent one, I’m re­lieved to say.

Joe Camp­bell, Saska­toon


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