Sunday, December 18, 2016

Man, oh man

From a November New York Times book review:

Man has sped up his own response times. It now takes us only 10-15 years to get used to the sort of technological changes that we used to absorb in a couple of generations.
But the response time of that sentence isn’t anything like adequate. “Man has sped up”: that language stands out as painfully dated. The Times’s Manual of Style and Usage has cautioned against the language of man since 1999 (and perhaps earlier):
Expressions built on man or mankind strike many readers as a slight to the role of women through history. In a few cases, those expressions may result unavoidably from idiom or a literary allusion. But the writer and editor should weigh the graceful alternatives: humanity, perhaps, or human race or people.
I like humankind, which always takes me back to T. S. Eliot’s Burnt Norton: “Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind / Cannot bear very much reality.”

Scott Pelley of the CBS Evening News has the man problem too. And yes, in 2016 it’s a problem.

[How did “Man has sped up” get past an editor?]

comments: 3

Frex said...

Hey! I just read that article and that line popped out at me--and not just because I recognized it from here.
How 'bout, "Response times have speeded up."

Michael Leddy said...

Fresca, I’m glad you noticed it too. (It’s not just me.)

Another possible revision: “People, we got this.”

Frex said...

There ya go!