Man Grammar: A Poem

The following poem is inspired by a blog conversation with Abram K-J, blogger, who makes a grammatical observation. He says,

I know it’s becoming more accepted to speak of “women authors,” “women this,” and “women that,” but what we really want to say is “female scholars.” Just like we wouldn’t say “man scholar” but would say “male scholar.”

Since William Safire is dead, I thought I would let his words speak nonetheless. And they are (from an article he wrote for the New York Times, “Language: Woman vs. female“), now, this Man Grammar poem:

Neck and Neck, and Ear, and Nose:
A Man-Grammar Poem Consisting of A William Safire Head and His Grammatical Words Verbatim / (And Most of A John Dryden Foot-Note)

There’s nothing new
about this: The use
of

woman

as a modifier

dates to 1300,
with the poet John Dryden,
translating Juvenal in 1697, noticing “a

woman

grammarian who corrects her
husband for speaking
false Latin.”* Today, usage is

neck and neck,
with

woman

as a modifier appearing
to

my ear

as pulling ahead
of

female

by
a nose.

—–
(*The rest of the
John Dryden foot-
note

is not noted
in

the William Safire man-grammar note
of
The New
York Times,

which could be instructive
or obstructive
as it is not destructive
or at least not deconstructive,

this Juvenal not false Latin
man woman-poem; man readers
must not imagine the rest of
this note
as

écriture féminine,

for it reads
as

follows, “which is called
breaking Priscian’s

head.”)

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