Language

This blog is mostly written in British English, with some jargon/technical terms thrown in and the occasional gibberish or made-up words when I feel like it. But it doesn’t take long to figure that out.

This page is really about some of the particular ways that I use terms in this blog and the reasons why (for the same information regarding dates notation, see this post). I will update it when I think of new points that will need adding – either language that I have newly introduced, or language that I have been using but only just realised needs clarification. If there’s any words or terms that I use regularly that you find confusing, please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to address the issue here.

D/s, ‘D’ and ‘S’

In the world of BDSM, the “power-exchange” dimension of dominance/submission is usually referred to as D/s, and the roles within it are usually referred to similarly. That is, they are the Dominant and the submissive. In this blog, I aim to be consistent in capitalising both Dominant and Submissive when referring to the people involved. This is because, if the purpose of the capital ‘D’ is to indicate a position of respect or power, then a capital ‘S’ is also appropriate in my view: regardless of how one feels about who “really” has the power in D/s relationships, a Submissive typically does as much emotional work, and typically has to do a lot of physical work in various ways. That deserves the same level of respect, and shows a type of power, that should be recognised as equal to hir Dominant, even though it is a different kind of power. Equally, if the purpose is to distinguish between the normal, “everyday”, or dictionary, usage and avoid confusion between non-negotiated power differential within relationships, then there is as much distinction between submissive and “Submissive” as there is between dominant and “Dominant”.

Nevertheless, I continue to use the conventional shorthand of “D/s” rather than “d/s” or “D/S”, in deference to custom, and because established conventions can be hard to shift.

Pronouns

I usually accept male pronouns to refer to me, although being somewhat genderqueer, will accept consistent use of female pronouns as well – I’m not fond of being identified as gender-neutral unless someone really doesn’t know one way or the other how I identify (which would mean they hadn’t read this page, so making an exception here doesn’t matter). Consistent simply means, don’t keep changing your mind: if you called me “she” for a while but later decide that you think “he” is a better fit for how you see me (or vice versa), then that’s cool (especially if you let me know why you changed your mind), but if you keep swapping and changing then I won’t know when you’re using them to refer to me and when you’re referring to someone else (and likely, neither will anyone else). The obvious exception being when I deliberately present in a female aspect (identifiable by me being crossdressed, for example, or using a female honorific in a BDSM scene)

I try to be consistent in using gender-neutral pronouns when talking about a hypothetical person, and try to make sure I have some reference point for others’ preferred pronouns when I refer to them. The gender-neutral pronouns that I have fallen into the habit of using regularly (and so use on this blog) are:

Subject = Zie
Object = Hir
Possessive = Hir

If someone expresses a preference for other gender-neutral pronouns with respect to themselves, I aim to use those instead, of course.

I am relaxed in general about the use of “singular they”, but dislike it when used as a personal pronoun (referring to some specific person) as opposed to a generalised (by which I mean “every”, “nobody”, “any”,”each” etc) pronoun.

Quirks of English

This section is about some words and the ways and reasons I use them, that don’t fall into any other category.

Data/Datum/Data point: Strictly speaking, “Data” is the plural, and “Datum” is the singular. My height is a single datum, the heights of the population of Great Britain are data. However, common usage now applies the singular, so it is common to say “the height data shows that children are shorter than most adults”. In this usage, it is common to refer to a data point, which is exactly the same as a datum. “Data” can be treated as a mass noun, in the same way as water or light (e.g. a point of light or a point of data, or a droplet of water) and in large quantities, data can be said to behave like a fluid.

For that reason, I choose not to use the plural to agree with “data”, but stick to the common usage.

Writers’ Jargon

This section is for terms that crop up either in discussing writing. I may well miss some that I use frequently, if so give me a shout and I’ll put something here.

WIP: “Work In Progress” – what writers call their current ongoing project. With me, that currently means my novel.

One Response to Language

  1. Pingback: On the individual third person (why singular they isn’t enough) | Valery North - Writer

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