Issue For January 27, 2005
Writing Question of the Week
I'm putting the finishing touches on a project in which I have done research and conducted surveys and then designed a summer reading program for a local elementary school. How do I site the handouts that I was given by the teachers and librarians that I interview which I then used to help me "brainstorm" my own program? The handouts have been produced by those teachers and do not give credit to any other source. --Fran
Answer: I can't find any category in either the MLA or APA manual that would accurately describe what you have. So here is my commonsense recommendation:
If the teachers you talked to posted their handouts to their course websites, then you just cite those sites. If those handouts have not been published in any form, not even as internal documents circulating within the schools, then you may cite them as results of your personal interviews with those teachers. --Jenny, OWL Tutor
The OWL Help Nest
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Last Semester's Final Question: Hi, In the school where I am presently teaching, there are the old ones and the new breed. When we review students with pronouns, we always debate as to what gender to use if the there is a common-gender pronoun.
For example: The student is expected to finish (his, her, his or her).
Some teachers who call themselves purists say they prefer to use the masculine gender because that's what they are comfortable with. However, I prefer to use the his or her since I also would like to use what has been posted as "new rule" in the net. I have also read from a resource that modern writers prefer to use his or her to avoid sexism. However, isn't it cumbersome to be using his or her in the paragraph everytime a common-gender noun is mentioned? Help me... (Anonymous)
This question generated a huge volume of replies. We are sending along three representative answers:
I may be missing something, but I have yet to find a current handbook that recommends using the masculine to apply to either gender It's a bad idea (not linguistic purism) to teach students to use a practice not recommended (indeed, recommended against) by style handbooks, professional associations (like APA and MLA), and most college professors.
Some ways to avoid the cumbersome "his or her" repetitions include using the plural whenever possible and alternating "his" and "her" as pronouns applicable to both genders. --Linda Bergmann, Director of the Purdue University Writing Lab
Sone style guides require techniques such as using his one time and her the following time. I personally defer to the following rule. If I am discussing a his or her or a her or his issue, it can usually be viewed as a plural situation. Otherwise, I would probably know the gender of the targeted person. Thus, the sentence becomes a requirement for numerous students.
"The students are expected to finish their ________. "
This is always politically correct. That is, this is correct until someone suggests that the term students is demeaning. At that point, I will revert to my old standby
"These individuals (persons, folks) are expected to finish their ______."
It works for me.--Betty Nye Lendway
Everyone should think about the way they use pronouns in common-gender situations, because words can be symbols, and as symbols are powerful things which, when used thoughtlessly, as with the generic 'he' usage, can lead to discrimination, such as the persona non grata role assigned to the female. So what are the various options available, and being used?
- the 'random' option - using 'he' or 'she' as it takes the author's fancy, an option that I consider confusing for readers.
- the constant use of 'he or she' which appears cumbersome - clumsy, uneconomical, plus the pedantic necessity then to balance 'he or she' with 'she or he' so as not to appear to favouring one gender over the other
- 'new' neutral words such as 'shim' and 'sher' - they appear as unacceptable as the poet Coleridge's whimsical solution of using 'it'
- the use of the singular 'they' and 'their' which is being adopted more universally these days
Of the various options, I prefer the last as being part of traditional established English usage from the King James Bible to Shakespeare to Austen to Orwell.
The history of the singular 'their' construction, the prejudice against its use in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the compelling reasons for reinstating its usage, is given at the following site: 'Singular "their" in Jane Austen and elsewhere: Anti-pedantry page', http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html --Valli Rao
What's Happening on OWL
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What's Happening in the Writing Lab
- OWL Eye on...the Updated Website! Karl Stoley, webmaster of the Purdue OWL, has been hard at work redesigning and scripting the writing lab's website. Please go visit it at: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/writinglab/ Soon the OWL and Writing Lab Newsletter sites will undergo similar revisions.
- OWL Eye on...Spring Schedule The Writing Lab at Purdue University will be available during its regular hours. It offers one-on-one tutorials, in-lab and in-class workshops, lab tours, conversation groups, and a multitude of other Writing Lab resources every weekday.
- Spring 2005 Writing Lab Hours:
- Tutoring Hours: M-Th 9-4; F 9-1
- ESL Conversation Groups: M 1:30-2:30, Tu/Th: 4:30-5:30, W: 11:00-noon,
- F: 11:30-12:30
- OWL Eye on....Spring Semester In-Lab Workshops You can get a list of our In-Lab Workshops here: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/writinglab/topic/inlabworkshops
- ESL Orientation - Tuesday Feb. 1st 2:30PM
- Using THOR - Tuesday Feb. 8th 2:30PM
- Research and the Internet - Tuesday Feb. 15th 2:30PM
- Peer Review - Tuesday Feb. 22nd 2:30PM
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