Saturday, January 08, 2005

Linguistic Curmudgeon

I try not to be a linguistic curmudgeon and I think that I do a reasonably good job. I've got a high tolerance for acronym confusion, e.g., "I went to the ATM machine," I tend to be patient with slang, and I've even fully embraced the "singular they" as a gender-neutral pronoun. I have found, however, that I just can't stand it when people say "We're pregnant."

I understand the point of the phrase is to emphasize that pregnancy requires teamwork and that the man's role extends beyond passing out cigars to his buddies and reading magazines in the waiting room while his wife labors. I am all for the notion that men should be part of the process; however, when a couple says "we're pregnant" the phrase only makes sense if each half of the couple can legitimately say "I'm pregnant" as well and, frankly, any man who does so is making a rather implausible biological claim to fame.

The problem, for me, is that pregnancy is a rather specific medical term with very strict connotations. Might I suggest the broader, more colloquial term "we're having a baby" or "we're going to have a baby"? The understanding and the implications of mutual effort remain without the suggestion that a human male is gestating a fetus.

Now if you'll pardon me, I see some more windmills in the distance that need to be tilted at.

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