Ulysses 1.5 on MacUpdate promo

Just for today MacUpdate Promo is selling Ulysses at 40% off.

Link (just today)

I, for one, can not make myself buy an app that on its presentation (website) refers to the writer as he all the time, overlooking the female writers. (And yes, a friend of mine even bothered writing the developers, suggesting a change… she never heard from them.)

– MJ


you are so right. It is a problem in German with grammatical sex. There was a tendency to accept that humankind exists of two sexes, e.g. that not only the mail students would like to be examined but also the female. Nowadays this is not fashionable any more, those, who speak of women and men are object of joking and sniff.

In Japan, when I here talking in Japanese of a certain person, I naturally envisage a man without asking, but the Japanese, when they hear me talking about someone they don’t know, they ask me after a while, whether I am talking about a man or a woman. Their language and their education is vague enough to keep both versions in mind until they know.

When I wrote in my dissertation about potterers only as females, I was asked to change this into the “normal” male form and get rid of my feminist attitude. I did not change that, they were women. And like you, I tend to ignore people who cannot accept a world of two sexes because of language “traditions”.


I had the same problem with the iGTD homepage, which read, “You are a busy man, aren’t you? And there’s an easy way to track all things that have to be done… and to get those things done!” Evidently, someone complained because it now reads, “You are a busy person…”

Given the URL for the home page, it might be that Polish has a similar gender handling that German does–or maybe not. I have to admit, the first time I went that page, I clicked off almost immediately. It could be that part of the problem is simply in the education of English: Archaic masculine pronouns are still be taught as being generic pronouns. When I found out that the author of iGTD was probably Polish, I was forgiving and came back to the site; by then the wording had been fixed anyway.

English is flawed in that it does not have a comprehensive set of graceful genderless pronouns, and that no doubt makes tactful composition from the viewpoint of a second (or further removed) language, difficult. Honestly, the least awkward way of handling the situation is often to write in such a way that pronouns are avoided altogether; something that could prove difficult for someone coming from a pronoun heavy language.

And the non-gender-specific entity said to the other non-gender-specific entity…

I teach writing in a US university, and, of course, I make my students aware of gender-biases in pronouns. I mark those on their papers, and work on making their essays more “gender-correct”.

This said, I find it rather sad and alarming that you would immediately close a web page over a grammatical usage issue that many have not realized was biased, and that others (especially people speaking English as a second language) were taught was the only standard, correct English.

In this globalized Internet world–where millions communicate in a language that isn’t even theirs from a cultural context we cannot even begin to fathom–tolerance seems to me far more important to understanding one another than boycotting those who fail to take into account this grammatical fine point.

Yes, it is annoying when that is your first reaction to something; rather than trying to see why, we tend to just dismiss the things that irk us. As I said, once I realised the nationality of the author, I came back to the site and gave the program another chance. I even ended up liking it enough to try it out for a while.


Not being a native speaker of English, I appreciate your understanding of people who do not speak English as a native language. Like AmberV, I reacted the same on the iGTD web site: First reluctance, then accepting that it is a non-English / non-German background. The developer seems to be a very nice guy by the way. My reactions are less understanding in German context, because gender in our language (a lot more obvious than in English) is a well known issue in our society nowadays. Those who decide to speak of male because male is the norm, do so consciously and with intention. Not including women into their speech is the reaction of those in power making fun of those who want to recognised.

OK, I see that it is difficult for a non-native speaker of English to get around the way one has learned speaking English at school and finding a better solution. So I will be a bit more open – and check the German pages in case it is a German…

Lucky are the Japanese who get along without gender in their language. Btw., Cassirer wrote an interesting paper on classification in language in his Kulturphilosophie showing that what we call “gender” in Indo-European languages is just a subset of classes with a lot more variation in other language families.


I can understand the language problems. Hell, I’m Portuguese, and my language has a few tricks itself. And although I really didn’t overlook Ulysses because of that, I confess I was a bit put off by the developers lack of effort regarding this.

Apparently the iGDT developer had a different approach. On my regard that was a much smarter (in terms of market, if nothing else) reaction.

Like I say to my students… the problem is not error, but the lack of effort to correct it. It may sound snobbish, but I take it by the letter.

– MJ

PS. Why are most divine entities refered to as male?

Hey, Maria –

I read earlier on that you’re an archeologist. So am I, although my speciality is archeozoology (or zooarcheology… it depends on the school :wink: ). I do remember some issues on the attribution of gender to certain tasks…

Potters = women
Hunters = men
Gatherers = women
Artists =men

One of the most refreshing archaeological discoveries in Portugal in the last few years was the tomb of a Bronze Age warrior identified as a female.

One of the least refreshing was the Upper Paleolithic young child who, on the absence of sex attribution (it’s impossible given its age), is called ‘menino’ (male; boy) and not ‘menina’ (female; girl) by most people. However, archeologists have been struggling for the acceptance of the gender neutral term: ‘criança’, i.e. child.

– MJ

that is good news. May be sometimes we have to exchange ideas. We have quite some Portugese finds here, since Fr. Xavier came here and founded one of the oldes Christian churches in Japan. Our football club is called Trinita because it started in the vicinity of Christian sites. Anyway, if necessary, pm!


Gender roles reminded me of a Peter Drucker web page on Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself where he mentioned that knowledge work knows no gender.

Also thought I’d pass along a link to an interview where he talks about being a professional writer: Reviving The “Moral Sciences”

Hi. :wink:

For the record: I have a very strong opinion that language-based separation is all in your head. Talking about “the writer” is not biased unless you want it to be biased – writer or reader, sender or recipient. Specifying a gender for a neutral term which just happens to have a male article IS separation, not integration.

Same with every other form of so-called “political correctness”. Those who use “political correct” terms are the ones discriminating, as they clearly mark differences in otherwise homogenous groups.

I see “the writer” as neutral term, no sex, no face, no high- or low-pitched voice. If you see a male person behind that term, frankly, it’s YOU overlooking the females in that group.

Also, in German, we usually have endings to specify genders for general terms (such as writer). It’s like appending the english “ess” or so: Writer, writress, hehe. This has led to the very confusing habit of combining the two versions in written text, such as…

…resulting in unnecessarily long and hard to read texts and papers. But of course la intelligencia has come up with a great way to deal with this all-out generated “problem”: We are now forced to use a more general term, even if that new term has a somewhat different meaning.

E.g. we have “students”, which covers boys and girls, men and women, but are now forced to talk about “those who study”, even if that’s NOT what the students in question may be doing, he.

Of course, these two techniques are only used for positive terms. We still read about terrorists and murders, killers and car-bombers. We also continue reading about soldiers and unemployed, fetishists and idiots – even though all these terms do have a female counterpart in our language.

Go figure.

Also, at least (but not only) to me, “the writer” is a purely conceptual term, and not a group of men actively and currently penning short stories. The student is (all latin roots aside) a conceptual term, as is the “staffer”, the “pensioner” or the “worker”. You don’t need to work to be a worker, do you?

Those who oppose need to free their minds of their segregational thoughts, and not vice versa.


PS: Sorry, got long…

No, just necessary. :slight_smile:

Another terrible habit is the following in German:

Male: “Autor”
Female: “Autorin”

How do you combine this as neutral as possible, trying to please everyone who might be offended?


Is that crude or what?

You can’t in singular, because of the different articles for male and female authors. It would be “der/die AutorIn”. To circumvent this people usually use the plural form only: Die AutorInnen. :wink:

Just imagine having to read about the/thee authorEss meeting lots of other authorEsses. Stuff like this is pretty common in our country, especially on campusses. I don’t think it’s any wonder people start making fun of it…

Yes, ignoring, making fun, fighting, after all the new idea wins. Some great man (it was a man :wink: ) said that, and we are already in a stage between making fun and fighting. The idea of a non-sexist language will win.

I understood how much we are preoccupied by having male forms as the norm since I studied in Japan: No Japanese has the idea of a man in his / her head when talking about a --san or --sensei or any other person they have not yet heard about. They are absolutely free. We, and I, do have these pre-occupations. I always envisage a man when I hear about people in the “normal” form, even if I am talking to a person in gender free Japanese, and nobody can convince me that he or she does not – although grown up with the German language. It is a sexist language, and I appreciate any piece of text that tries to avoid sexism of this traditional form, better elegantly than clumsy, but if necessary, clumsy is OK.

I used to think a bit more loosely about that, but I changed my mind. It is always a good idea to rethink habits and try to feel how the other one might feel. There is nothing embarrassing about it, on the contrary, it shows that someone grows up.

Never mind,

Nah, it just shows that someone is insecure in their actions.

I find it funny how you point to the Japanese language, stating that there’s no gender/sex, but that you still think in terms of male/female. Doesn’t that contradict your whole point?

German is not only sexist, but very clumsy already. Any attempt to make it less sexiest makes it even more clumsy. I hate that, really. If there’s a way to write neutral in German without making it sound awkward, I’d embrace it without hesitation. So far I’ve seen none.

Well, the promo is over, I guess, so we might as well continue with this. :wink:

Absolutely not. I said that I am preoccupied because I grew up with that language. I am a victim :wink: . (a happy one). My way of thinking is deeply rooted in the German language, even if I am talking Japanese. Btw., recently I asked, perhaps the first time in my life, whether someone was talking about a woman, when talking about a certain professor. I realised that immediately. But may be, I will be free in a few years?


Clumsy? I love that language, I did not know how lovely it is and how beautiful it is to express oneself in German – until I had read all books I brought with me and realised that I had no more input in the evenings (so that I had to start writing myself…). Now I appreciate the language even more.

OK, promo is over. Somehow, this day was not filled with hard work, so I had power for a struggle, sorry to all! :blush:


I don’t care about political correctness. I know how I feel when reading ‘he’ ‘him’ ‘man’ in language that is supposed to include me. It’s a visceral thing, and it attests the incredible power language has over the way we think and behave. I think it is well worth considering, and for those who discount the importance of it, well, I would hope they’d care enough about how others might feel take a second look. To think about the fact that such language (and other language that excludes race or ethnic backgrounds, whatever) has, whether we acknolwedge it or not, a subtle but profound impact on how we think and what we do.

That doesn’t mean I require everyone to be sensitive to gender-inclusive language. Many cultures and people aren’t, and I accept that. To a point. Because I do think there is value in keeping this issue front-and-center, and I think it worth pointing it out whenever I feel its relevant. Whether people like it or not. And I think that because I have a personal stake in the issue. It affects me, and I believe it affects all of us in some way, and I recognize that as important.

So I can appreciate, and do appreciate, MJ and Maria’s comments. If the use of male gender language affects you the way it does, then I say you have every right to feel that way and make purchasing choices based on that. I can also appreciate those that find this extreme or discounting of cultural differences, but I would say to them that just because it doesn’t bother you or because it is not part of some culture’s awareness doesn’t mean the issue is not important or relevant to bring up. It’s important, I think, to recognize that while something may not be an issue for you, it being an issue for someone else makes it worthy of consideration.

Just my thoughts on the subject! Please don’t flame me if you disagree. It’s not my attempt to be politically correct. It’s the way I feel, and my experience, so you can take it for what it’s worth to you.