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2006-08-23, 00:47
This post is a reaction to an article by Hendrik Hertzberg:

I am not a Republican party member.

One thing I do when choosing my written words carefully is to call the party of Democrats the "Democrat party". The reason I consciously choose to say "Democrat party" despite its akwardness is because it is the name of the party. One does not refer to the Republicanist party, the Communistic party, or the Socialistic party; because those are not their names. The name of the party should only be a noun. To call it by an adjective would be inconsistent.

The article of Hertzberg defends the usage of the term "Democratic party" because dictionaries list "Democratic party" as a noun and Google searches show higher amounts of that version. He also says that one must not politicize language by using an unusual term.

In the process of choosing my words carefully I also try to improve the words and language I use, which means that I may use different or unconventional terms. Language evolves slowly and eventually slang words which perservere in the language are adopted and then became listed in the dictionary, which is when they become "legitimate" in the view of scholars.

The thing is, it's not gramatically incorrect to say "Democrat party". It is only akward sounding. So my defense of using the term "Democrat party" as a way for language to evolve is not necessary, but is only done so to rebut the scholar Hertzberg who implies that language is not dynamic or changeable. It is Hertzberg who is politicizing language by refusing to accept the grammatical legitimacy of the term "Democrat party", and by expecting others to refer to the party using an adjective rather than a noun.

One thing that bothers me in the English language is that when the implied gender of an unknown person is used, it is gramatically correct to say "him". Many people have replaced it with "they", which is gramatically incorrect but at least avoids the sexism of calling any unknown person a "him". For example suppose I were to announce in the forum here:
> If a member forgets his password on the forum he can reset it by having a new one sent to his registered email.
That would be gramatically correct. People make a mistake when they replace the he and him with they and them. But perhaps it is better to respect people and be inclusive and considerate than to respect grammar. A way around this problem without violating grammar would be to use the akward term "one" or to stop using the prounoun altogether. So for my example I would say:
> If a member forgets one's password on the forum the member can reset it by having a new one sent to the member's registered email.

This brings us to another topic, which is the high polarization and partisanship in American culture. According to what I've read, it is more so now than it was maybe twenty years ago. The first inclination would be to blame the politicians. I think they are a large part of the cause, and people really have divergent views in different parts of the country. But one thing overlooked is the role of the media in all of this. In many media stories you often see the party of every political person involved, so the partisanship comes from disseminating too much party awareness in media stories. The solution to reduce partisanship would be for the media to stop reporting the party of political figures all the time. We know that the media can really change and influence things. Just imagine if they were to go back to the old days when they indicated the race of people in their articles. Well that approach of theirs increased racism. They now mostly operate on a code of conduct where they realize it is better for them not to report that, and as a result the media and the news has a less racist effect on society. They need to do the same thing with all their political stories so as to help reduce the country's partisanship.