Monday, June 30, 2008

Translations Made Easy

The English language is the perfect fit for those unsure of their gender, since nouns are essentially sexless. "They think, therefore they are," one might say, and no one knows if they are men or women.

Facebook has had quite enough of that, and it has to end. With the popular social networking site going global, it's quite impossible to translate things in individual profiles. If the user doesn't specify a sex, and then posts to his or her page using gender-neutral words, there's confusion. The Facebook translator has to assign a sex, and it's anyone's guess these days if Taylor is a boy or a girl.

With its popularity among the college crowd, Facebook was facing endless criticism from university English departments nationwide. The default setting, when sex was unknown, relied on "they" or "their" or "themself", which created some grammatical horrors. Nothing can be worse than having university professors grumbling. From here on in, you have to pick a sex.

To avoid discriminating against those with chromosomes that don't match the external packaging, a user can opt out of sex selection. Unfortunately, the default settings will continue to create literary havoc for the transgendered, as if they don't have enough emotional trauma to deal with.

Users of Facebook are gradually being trained to use correct grammar, one step at a time. At this rate, literacy will be achieved within the next two hundred years.

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