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Monday, December 10, 2007

Evidence of a change?


I often wonder if the changes in everyday language usage is intentional. In this case, I don't mean giving a word a different, ironic meaning, but rather changing small words in a traditional phrase or joke to reflect the attitudes of the time. As an example, I was looking at Dogpile's joke of the day (which is very seldom ever funny) when I stumbled across this:

"When is a doctor most annoyed? (When she's out of patients)"

How long ago would it have been (When he's out of patients)? A decade,... more,... less? Is this joke told with a masculine doctor other places? If so, was there a conscious insertion of a female doctor? Does it make it any funnier or less funny? What is the reason for this change? Since we are the subject, when was the last time you heard someone use the word Doctress? Is the verbal separation of a profession by gender left now to the service industry alone? Sure, some people call them all servers, but there are hosts and hostesses and waiters and waitresses. When a woman presents a speech, why don't we call her an oratrix? Apparently, this change has been taking place for a long time,
leading one to think that this is not at all a modern invention to please the masses.

Now, to the real point. What about libraries and librarians? Are there major efforts to stem the stereotypes of matronly old ladies in glasses with their index fingers perpetually pressed to their pursed lips in the universal symbol of silence? Unfortunately, yes, there are. I say unfortunately because these efforts are being devised and planned by librarians, giving them no legitimacy at all. It's like if nerds try to tell you that nerds aren't nerdy anymore. It doesn't work without third party confirmation.

So now I task you (who I'm sure did not think there would be homework involved when you first started reading this) to go to your local library and look at the librarians. If they don't fit the stereotype, tell your friends. Spread the word.

On a slight side note, I do think it's time that the profession began actively reaching out to recruit new and attractive members of the profession. Nothing will help libraries nearly as much as a fresh crop of hot librarians! I shall be the first to call into the ranks of the beautiful people:

This is a message for all the attractive people who ever considered being a librarian. Do it. Sign up and start the hot librarian revolution! Everyone else, please encourage attractive people to study the library and information sciences. Together we can change the stereotype just like Dogpile changed the language of a joke!