Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Obama’s countrymen

with 2 comments

South façade of the White House, the executive...
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What, the Radio 4 news programme Today asked recently, would the American president’s ‘countrymen’ think of his decision to send more troops to the Middle East?

I’d also be quite interested in what the other half of the US population thought — in other words, his countrywomen. Or perhaps their views don’t count.

And yes, ‘countrywoman’ is a proper word; I didn’t just make it up in the interests of political correctness. See Oxford Dictionaries.

Update: February 2013

Headline from The Telegraph (UK newspaper):

China’s countrymen struggling with a ‘sick’ Mother Earth

The country’s women are not, I assume.

Girls or women?

Gratuitous modifiers or the lady bus driver

Top scientist or top female scientist? 

Marketing man — or woman?

He or she — or they?

She’s so intolerant, but he doesn’t suffer fools gladly

She’s such a tomboy

Old wives’ tales — good or bad?

Ladies first?

Jack of all trades

When is a man not a man?

Read a no-nonsense guide to politically correct writing



2 Responses

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  1. I agree on both points. Thanks, Michael.


    03/04/2010 at 7:04 am

  2. Assuming it’s sexist, it’d be easy to avoid: “What would Americans think….” etc. But “Friends, Romans, Rome-adjacents” suffers poetically.

    Michael Farrell

    03/04/2010 at 6:33 am

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