I’m sure I’ve ranted about this before – but it bears repeating.
Language has tremendous power. It influences the way we think. Advertisers know this very well. I know this because when I write ads, I am far more careful of the language I choose than when I write newspaper copy. One of the reasons, in the press, we use the neutral, “he said” rather than “demanded” or “he insisted” or some other word is that langauge has power.
And so please people, please, please, please – watch how, in your everyday language, you are turning people into things and things into sentient beings. This has become increasingly obvious since Citizens United when corporations were given the status of people.
As in this sentence:
Wal-Mart is a large company. They don’t pay their employees very well.
Teh above is incorrect. Although, I’m sure Wal-Mart would have you believe it’s a terrific sentence (at least, grammatically)
Correct is: Wal-Mart is a large company. It doesn’t pay its employees very well. If it isn’t obvious why the second sentence is correct, let me explain: Wal-Mart is singular. It is not plural. Got it?
Correct also might be: The managers at Wal-Mart do not pay their employees well. In this case the use of “their” is correct – we are talking about several people. All of this is just common sense.
Now – here’s what, in my opinion, is far worse. We are turning people into things. Every day, multiple times, I see examples (especially on Facebook) such as I like people that read books. Really? Personally, I like people who read books – because people are people and not machines. People are “who” (or “whom”).
I like robots that do hard work. I also like people who do difficult work. See the difference?
This isnt’ even so important grammatically. This is important because language is powerful and influences the way we think. Thankfully, some languages make this kind of de-humanizing more difficult. Languages like Spanish, French and German where nouns have genders. In German a business is das Geshaft – das is neutral. You can’t make it feminine or masculine – period. Whew!
Enough of this rant – it’s Friday – going to put my feet up and then hike all day tomorrow on the Cowpath.