By Laura Johnston
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Laura Johnston reports, some organizations are trading the word “guys” for “team” or “folks” or “people.”
Here in Ohio, we don’t say y’all. When we’re talking to a group of people, we call them all “guys.”
“Hey, you guys,” we might say to our family or our colleagues or a troop of Girl Scouts. It’s shorthand, easy, casual. But is it sexist in a modern world?
English is limiting in its pronouns. The language does not include a gender-neutral, third-person word for an individual. Hence the traditional “he” to refer to anyone, and the currently awkward he/she.
We also don’t have a gender-neutral second-person plural pronoun. Hence why refer to a group of men and women, or boys and girls, as “guys.”
But words matter.
Some organizations are trading “guys” for “team” or “folks” or “people.” A tech start-up called npm has a glass jar where employees put in a dollar every time they say “you guys.”
“You can think of the push to drop ‘guys’ as political correctness run amok, or you can think of it as making a tiny change that doesn’t cost you anything and will keep you from being a jerk to half the population — and help you make the world just a tiny bit more fair,” writes Vox.
Let’s take a lesson from Canada, which made its national anthem gender-neutral last year. Or from the South, where y’all makes a whole lot of sense. (Just put the apostrophe in the correct place.)