Linguistic inclusivity has brought about a state of confusion where nobody knows anymore who they are talking about.

“Women-identified and non-binary folk”

Well done, you are on the safe side! You’ve included all the people that you are supposed to! Or have you?

Why do non-binary people need to be mentioned alongside women? Why do we call them “folk” or “folx” now instead of “people”? Why is it “women-identified” and not just “women”?

Are there reasons for any of this?

Asking that question is similar to asking if there is a reason why Christmas is celebrated. It is celebrated because there is a culture of celebrating it—not because it makes sense, not because it solves a particular problem, not because we’ve designed it to make people happy. There is no reason other than the continuation of a living culture which it is part of.

Gender-inclusive language is at a similar point. There is a culture of using particular phrases—not because they are the best, most fitting phrases to use, not because they achieve, or at least work towards inclusion, but because a culture has added them to the vocabulary that people can use as evidence of their membership.

Is that good? Is it bad? Is it worth thinking about?

If we expect our linguistic choices to have specific positive effects, that endeavor can fail if originally intentional word choices become absorbed by a culture to the point where they become mere declarations of group membership.

Words can lose their meaning. It would be risky for anyone who cares about a social issue to rely too much on word choices as a means to achieve their goals.

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