女士和先生之外的第三种尊称Mx.

发表时间:2017-11-14内容来源:VOA英语学习网

Sometimes cultural shifts rumble at a glacial pace. Sometimes they gather momentum so quickly that our language can only surge ahead in an effort to catch up. Think selfie, or vape, or normcore.

Next up may be Mx. (pronounced mix), a gender-neutral alternative to Ms. and Mr.

Online discussion of Mx. grew clamorous in the last month after an array of media outlets reported with more excitement than hard facts that editors of the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary had announced its consideration to add the Mx. title.

Like so many pebbles of cultural news that ripple across the Internet, that one was only sort of accurate. The actual story is a bit less dramatic: A representative of the Oxford University Press, which publishes a range of periodicals, including the OED, was contacted by someone asking whether Mx. might be added to the mix. The answer was yes, it is being considered by one of the publisher’s online lexicons, OxfordDictionaries.com.

But the fervor with which the cultural discussion grew underscored perhaps a greater truth: Swaths of Americans are comfortable with new considerations of gender and of the importance (or lack thereof) of identifying a specific gender, and they would welcome new words to help communicate in a new world.

The language issue was amplified in the past week by the appearance of Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair and the attendant confusion surrounding which name and pronoun should be used.

The chatter about Mx. and its indication of mainstream acceptance is a welcome, if overdue, development for some. Justin Vivian Bond, a singer, songwriter and performance artist, began to use Mx. in self-reference in 2011. “It sounded like an obvious description of what I was: a mix of genders,” the artist said.

The honorific has already made headway in Britain. About a year ago, the Royal Bank of Scotland, for instance, began to instruct its employees to offer customers the option of selecting Mx. when filling out paperwork at local branch offices. The move was made, said Marjorie Strachan, the head of inclusion for the bank, to respond to requests made by bank employees and customers. The L.G.B.T. community applauded the policy, she said, as did those who simply do not want to be addressed by a title that indicates gender.

“It’s not just about making the option available to people,” Ms. Strachan said. “It’s about educating our work force to make no assumptions about why one would use it. It’s no different than if someone wanted to use Ms. rather than Mrs.”

The adoption of the term in Britain has been easier because the idea of more than two genders is more accepted there than in the United States, so Mx. has more support there, said Kate Bornstein, the author of “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.”

“The U.K. is ahead of the U.S. in terms of radical sexuality and gender, they’re far ahead,” the author said.

An article this week in The New York Times referred to a speaker using the honorific Mx. However, Philip B. Corbett, a Times editor who oversees the newspaper’s style manual and usage rules, called that appearance of Mx. in The Times an exception. “I don’t think we’re likely to adopt Mx. in the near future,” he said. “It remains too unfamiliar to most people, and it’s not clear when or if it will emerge as a widely adopted term.”

Linguistic experts say it is harder to change usage habits of words uttered frequently in speech, such as “she” and “he.” But a realignment in honorifics may be more quickly achieved because courtesy titles are less often spoken than written, like in the completion and mailing of government, health care and financial documents, as well as in newspapers and other media publications.

Katherine C. Martin, the head of United States dictionaries for the Oxford University Press, said that she and her colleagues were surprised by the huge, mostly positive reaction to online reports regarding the incorporation of the title. She said Mx. was on the “new-words watch list” for OxfordDictionaries.com.

The first citation of Mx. found by Ms. Martin’s team dates to 1977, in a publication called The Single Parent. In the midst of the Ms. era, an article in it wondered whether a courtesy title that masks gender might help ameliorate any bias against single parents. “On second thought, maybe both sexes should be called Mx.,” the article said. “That would solve the gender problem entirely.”

Mx.’s next notable appearance, Ms. Martin said, came in the early 1980s, when some people engaged in nascent forms of digital communication and did not know one another’s gender. In the last decade, she added, it popped up regarding people who chose not to identify with either gender or were in transition.

Alice H. Eagly, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, questioned whether the use of Mx. is a good idea because it could signal (accurately or not) that someone identifies as neither male nor female, strictly speaking, or is in transition.

One reason the culture adopted the Ms. courtesy title, she said, was to avoid employment discrimination against married women, she said. The goal was to obscure personal details, not to highlight them.

“I can sympathize with the desire to not want to declare one gender or another, but using this new category on job applications and such would make me worry,” Professor Eagly said. “Really, we should just do away with all of these titles. That would be more progressive.”

来自:VOA英语网 文章地址: http://www.tingvoa.com/html/20171114/511009.html