21.04.2019
Article Medium

«Authoress» or «author»?

The discussion about the tolerant dictionary left many questions open

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Journalists and editors of the Internet portal «Such Cases»  (charity Fund «Need help» ) thought about tolerant vocabulary, and the result of these reflections was the tolerant dictionary «We do not say so» . According to the authors, it contains the basic formulations that will help to avoid unwanted incidents.

The publication of the dictionary caused a strong reaction in the network. The user NaVi writes: «the word «epileptic»  – than it offensive and worryingly? So I’m asthmatic, my son is asthmatic, we don’t feel insulted, and an epileptic should?» . Marina Pavlova said: «Socially vulnerable groups «robber» , «crook»  and «corrupt»  – it’s hard. Where can I transfer money to socially vulnerable Sechin?» .

After such reviews, on April 17, the portal «Such Cases»  organized a discussion with the participation of different experts  in the coworking «table» – from philologists and psychologists to activists and transgenders, where participants tried to «understand how we understand and correctly call each other» .

journalist of the portal “Such things” Maria Bobylev (left). Photo: Such Cases/Anya Todich

Author of the dictionary Maria Bobyleva, journalist of the portal «Such Cases»  stressed again that the creation of the dictionary was dictated by the desire to introduce tolerant vocabulary. «Sex change surgery – what is it? How, at the time invented the «face of Caucasian nationality»  – it seems to be polite, but this [nationality] is not really» , – says Maria, but adds that the dictionary is not the ultimate truth, many words in it cause controversy even among experts, and it will be modified and supplemented.

Ksenia Razen, the expert of the Center for curative pedagogics “the Special childhood” . Photo: Such Cases/Anya Todich

Particular emphasis was placed on the section of the dictionary devoted to diseases and restrictions. According to the authors, it is not necessary to reduce a person to one characteristic – his disease, it is worth remembering that this is the only part of a person’s life: for example, not «down» , but «a person with down syndrome» . The authors of the dictionary support the expert of the Center for curative pedagogics «the Special childhood» , Ksenia Razen: «I think it’s important that… we are discussing many different specific words… this process reduces the anxiety [in society] and provides security» .

Zara Harutyunyan, psychologist, specialist in working with victims of violence ( in the center). Photo: Such Cases/Anya Todich

According to Zara Harutyunyan, a psychologist, a specialist in working with victims of violence, the people who created this dictionary «think about how to intelligently express themselves», and Ekaterina Messorosh, a transgender woman, a transactivist of the initiative group T-Action believes that «the responsibility of public people is to introduce these words into circulation» .

Catherine Messorosh, transgender woman, TRANS-activist of the initiative group of the T-Action (in the center). Photo: Such Cases/Anya Todich

And, by the way, about «psycologist» : gradually the discussion began to move away from the dictionary to the problem of feminicides and their use in the Russian language. It turned out that the audience is keenly interested in the use of such words as «authoress» , «headmistress» , etc., although «сommunist»  and «weightlifter»  sound quite comfortable.

Maxim Krongauz, a linguist, Professor, HSE, Russian state University for Humanities. Photo: м24.ru/Александр Avilov.

«In Russian, the infinitive is used only if for some reason I need to emphasize that it is a woman»,  – says Maxim Krongauz, linguist, Professor of HSE and RSUH.

Does it turn out that the use of feminicides is a manifestation of selfishness? What if this particular woman-director is important to be told about her «directress» , stressing that her creation is the work of a woman, not a man? And what about mentioning the names of foreign authors, when it is impossible to determine whether it is a woman or a man?

Anna Narinskaya, journalist, literature critic (right). Photo: Such Cases/Anya Todich

Journalist, literary critic and exhibitions curator Anna Narinsky, supports the use of feminities, but believes that they cause negative associations from Russian-speaking people. «This is a real crisis of self-identification… here is the «female journalist» , no.. I’m probably a journalist, because I’m good»  – says Anna.

Hasan Huseynov, philologist, Professor at the HSE. Photo: Such Cases/Anya Todich

At the end of the discussion, many questions remained open. The desire not to stand out, to be «like everyone else»  and to speak habitually has not disappeared, and society itself should decide whether to accept new expressions or stay with the same, and the dictionary will be improved and developed. But, as noted by the philologist, HSE Professor Hasan Huseynov: «We live in a world where it s not necessary to be with the majority» .

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