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Kemet: Seth» Forums » General

Subject: The choice of language for the rulebook of this game is sexist. rss

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Nicholas Rubert

Illinois
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Hey forum, I'm a big fan of Kemet and I am eagerly looking forward to the expansion. I've got a complaint with the rulebook though. On the first page of the rulebook we get this note:

NOTE: Male pronouns have been used for simplicity and readability.


The rulebook could have easily been written with all instances of "he" replaced with "Seth" or "the player". Neither the words "Seth" nor the words "the player" are particularly long or cumbersome to write/say. Adopting gendered pronouns (he or she) is completely unnecessary for this rulebook.
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Olli Juhala
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Re: The choice of language for the rulebook of this game is sexist and easily corrected
Ok, so the rulebook editor knows it's going to be noticed, and decides to ensure that it will be noticed, rather than fix the thing? It might be faster, but not easier in the end.

But I expect it's because the rules were originally written in French, and they are merely translated, rather than fully rewritten.
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Nicholas Rubert

Illinois
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Adding on to my original post:

The note implies that the authors of the rulebook mean nothing by the choice of "he" instead of the player or Seth. This note in the rulebook does nothing to change the fact that the player needs to mentally identify as masculine when they read masculine pronouns. In modern technical and business writing gendered pronouns are avoided for this very reason. It is definitely a debate as to the best way to replace gendered pronouns. However, in this rulebook's case the simple change of using no pronouns would have worked very well.
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Josef S
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I have noticed a few games I own do use she/her as a general pronoun. If I recall, Starship Samurai did, and all I thought was "Neat, don't see that often". Use either or. At least the writer had the decency to explain their choice.

People can get all upset, but I think they made a decent and civil choice - use a single, unified pronoun and explain why. Good on them.
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Ronnie Balls
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Think you're just going to enjoy that eagerly-awaited, new board game expansion you bought?

Think again!
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Arnaud MATAGOT
France
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RoguesRefuge wrote:
I have noticed a few games I own do use she/her as a general pronoun. If I recall, Starship Samurai did, and all I thought was "Neat, don't see that often". Use either or. At least the writer had the decency to explain their choice.

People can get all upset, but I think they made a decent and civil choice - use a single, unified pronoun and explain why. Good on them.

Hello,


That was our precise intention indeed. Remember that we are are neither experts in language or US/UK culture.

Now, I talked to a friend at Essen who is an Expert in English language. He mentioned it was very possible to use "They" for all rulebooks, so we will explore this in the future for all games. It sounds funny to a person that was born a French speaker like me and in spite of 3years living in California, but I trust my friend and so we will do that.


Have fun playing,,
Arnaud.
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Reddish22
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arnaud4matagot wrote:


Now, I talked to a friend at Essen who is an Expert in English language. He mentioned it was very possible to use "They" for all rulebooks, so we will explore this in the future for all games. It sounds funny to a person that was born a French speaker like me and in spite of 3years living in California, but I trust my friend and so we will do that.

It would sound funny to someone born an English speaker as well because it is technically incorrect. It's not necessarily widely accepted yet but I'm coming around to it.
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Arnaud MATAGOT
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reddish22 wrote:
arnaud4matagot wrote:


Now, I talked to a friend at Essen who is an Expert in English language. He mentioned it was very possible to use "They" for all rulebooks, so we will explore this in the future for all games. It sounds funny to a person that was born a French speaker like me and in spite of 3years living in California, but I trust my friend and so we will do that.

It would sound funny to someone born an English speaker as well because it is technically incorrect. It's not necessarily widely accepted yet but I'm coming around to it.

Now I'm confused... But we'll try they asap and hope it works to get no one is unhappy... somehow I doubt it soblue
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Reddish22
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arnaud4matagot wrote:
reddish22 wrote:
arnaud4matagot wrote:


Now, I talked to a friend at Essen who is an Expert in English language. He mentioned it was very possible to use "They" for all rulebooks, so we will explore this in the future for all games. It sounds funny to a person that was born a French speaker like me and in spite of 3years living in California, but I trust my friend and so we will do that.

It would sound funny to someone born an English speaker as well because it is technically incorrect. It's not necessarily widely accepted yet but I'm coming around to it.

Now I'm confused... But we'll try they asap and hope it works to get no one is unhappy... somehow I doubt it soblue

I'm saying that under "proper" English, using the singular they is technically incorrect (so it's not just you that it sounds funny too). However, I realize that using a singular they (even if improper) is less cumbersome than writing he or she everywhere and helps everyone feel included. So I'm just saying that I think it's a good idea even if some grammarists disagree on using it.
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Seneca Lindsey
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Thank you Matagot for taking this seriously. Playing with mixed gender gaming groups, I always switch to "they" instead of "he" when reading out rules because my friends don't identify as "he."

They is perfectly acceptable as a singular gender neutral pronoun.

See here:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/singular-nonbi...

Use of they as a singular pronoun is not new, as stated by Merriam-Webster:

"We will note that they has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s"
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Shak S
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reddish22 wrote:


It would sound funny to someone born an English speaker as well because it is technically incorrect. It's not necessarily widely accepted yet but I'm coming around to it.

Perhaps another UK vs USA usage but "they" is often used as a gender neutral singular over here. There's usually more than enough context to make the plularity clear.
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Jonathan Challis
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reddish22 wrote:

I'm saying that under "proper" English, using the singular they is technically incorrect.

Not in British English - certainly not in anyone's lifetime here.

Now personally my preference is to use he with an explanation, not they (and he/she or alternating are abominations), but singlular they is perfectly correct.
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Alex S
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arnaud4matagot wrote:

...hope it works to get no one is unhappy... somehow I doubt it soblue

It’s not possible to make no one unhappy.
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Skander S
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ncRubert wrote:
Hey forum, I'm a big fan of Kemet and I am eagerly looking forward to the expansion. I've got a complaint with the rulebook though. On the first page of the rulebook we get this note:

NOTE: Male pronouns have been used for simplicity and readability.


The rulebook could have easily been written with all instances of "he" replaced with "Seth" or "the player". Neither the words "Seth" nor the words "the player" are particularly long or cumbersome to write/say. Adopting gendered pronouns (he or she) is completely unnecessary for this rulebook.

It's not just 'he' but also 'him' and 'his'. In your proposal there would have to be phrasings in the rules like "If the player moves the player's units to an area containing another player's units, the player attacks the other player with the player's units. Quite obviously too convoluted and confusing...

Using singular 'they' is possible but not very common and seems likely to confuse the reader as to whether singular or plural is meant. Furthermore it is not a possibility for other languages than English (including the original French) and I think it would be strange to do this in only one translation of the game.

My preferred solution (other than always using 'il/elle', 'his/her' etc which might just take up too much space) would be to use 'she' to provide some counterweight to the predominance of male perspective, but if the game authors think that when they have to make a choice, they use the pronoun of the gender most numerous among their players it would be hard to argue with them as well. Or they could alternate he and she, joueur and joueuse, etc, which others might then find confusing (when the same character is referred to in the rules varyingly as male or as female), and which still does not include non-binary people...

In any case this is a debate about writing in general (for all game rules, academic papers etc) which would seem more useful in a general forum than one on a specitic game.
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Severijn De Wilde
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When I saw Matagot owning up to using generic he as the pronoun for the rules, I felt that this would at least be a problem for someone somewhere, purely by drawing attention to it.

Note that using Seth or the player would not work for situations where they aren't the topic of the sentence. It would be awkward to say that "Seth can move Seth's units".

Style guides still recommend using generic he as the default, and I feel that might still be the way to go from a cost perspective too, considering that using singular they takes up more space which could be non-trivial. George Lucas saved quite a bit of money by using "return" instead of "revenge" in the title of his third star wars movie, and that's just a single letter.

For what it is worth, I was glad to see the rules written as they were, and the note was neat, if not necessary, for those that had a question on this.
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Luke

Newark
New Jersey
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Did everyone forget about the word "their", as in "the Seth can move their units". You don't need to use the convoluted "the Seth can move the Seth's units" to get gender neutral. Or even "They can move their units", it's clean and easy to read. Also just because a lot of people who are up voting ignoring this just because it doesn't affect them doesn't mean ignoring it is the right thing to do. Similarly color blindness only affects a small portion of the population but just ignoring it is not the right thing to do just because so. E people like those colors and they can tell them apart so they don't see the problem.
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Shoosh shoo
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Really?? You read the rule book and THIS is what your complaint is?? How about the lack of clarity in some rules lol.

Im not trashing matagot but its clear that some work needs to be done in translating the rules to english (possibly other languages). I would gladly volunteer.

As far as the choice of word to use, I would just write s/he.
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Luke

Newark
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There are plenty of complaints and questions about the clarity of the rulebook (including by me). This isn't a complaint instead of those complaints, this is in addition to those.
 
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Luke

Newark
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Who cares if harm was meant if harm is done? If I drive my car and get I to an accident I caused harm and am responsible for it despite not intentionally trying to harm you. Why actively avoid a simple solution that includes people to stick with an archaic one that doesn't?
 
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