Cognitive Seance – How should gender shape language?

So, if you’ve been wondering why the lack of posts this week (moreso than usual), it is because I attended “social events” 4 of the 5 nights this week. And basically, if I don’t come straight home from work, I don’t have a chance to write. I often have to wait until the weekend and dump my brains out then.

Tonight I went to Cognitive Séance 86: How Should Gender Shape Language?

I can’t possibly hope to recap everything that was said over the course of the 3 hour discussion, so I’m just going to try and boil it down to my takeaway on the issue. I heard an analogy a few years ago that “reading parenting books doesn’t necessarily make you a better parent, but being the kind of person who chooses to read parenting books at all, believing they might gain something from them, would tend to suggest you probably will be a more attentive and involved parent”.

I feel something similar can be said about gender in language. Being aware of the language you are using and how it might come across differently in how you phrase something vs what you actually mean by it, can mean that you can use a language more effectively and not unfairly or improperly apply a gender bias. We could work to make a language less arguably “sexist”, but there is also onus on the user of the language to use it appropriately. This can also apply to race, as well as other things.

So, try to be aware of what you are saying and how you’re saying it. Listen to how others talk. Emulate the good, curb the not so good.

Stay tuned for more. I have quite a backlog of stuff to write about!

CASA (www.cogsci.ca) is the Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence Student’s Association. Cognitive Science is “the interdisciplinary study of the mind”, and includes studies in Philosophy, Psychology, Linguistics, and (optionally) Computer Science. Our activities are aimed at anyone who studies -any- of those subjects, or related areas, such as Anthropology, Neuroscience, Semiotics, or HPS, especially those who have interdisciplinary interests in many of those areas.

Care to share your thoughts?