Not the art of handwriting, about which Philip Hensher recently wrote a great book. I mean the noun itself. Washington state lawmakers apparently think so, and Governor Jay Inslee agrees: statutes in the Evergreen State shall no longer refer to “freshmen” or “fishermen” or “journeymen” but rather to “first-year students” (isn’t freshman year typically one’s tenth year in the public education system?) and “fishers” (a nice word, actually) and “journeypersons.”
And I thought the creeping singular “their” was something to worry about. Now every time I start to tell an acquaintance that my youngest brother, Joshua, begins college this fall I must remember that he will be a “first-year student” (why not “freshperson”?).
Most egregious, though, is “journeyperson.” I am the grandson of a journeyman tool and die maker, a lifelong Democrat who voted for Obama twice. I called him this morning with the news from Washington: “You’re kidding? That’s silly. It’s not sexist. It’s just a term that refers to someone in the trades.” Take it from a straight-shooting liberal of the old school: the folks in Olympia are cracked.