Tag Archives: Suzette Haden Elgin

A Letter About Language and Regret

Suzette,

Recently, I have become absorbed with your correspondence with Cheris Kramarae. What started out as a business relationship quickly developed into a friendship that went beyond mere communication about the writing profession.

In your letters, the emotion pours out and you seem broken down by the system that was set into place at your university. You describe yourself as disabled and you desperately try to prevent another female writer and professor from experiencing the same painful memories of your past. Now, at age 76, over 30 years after the letters were written, have you found peace? Have you been able to find ways to overcome the physical pain of your disability and emotional pain from your experiences in academia to continue to teach and influence the world despite being in a classroom?

In your letters, you speak of defeat, and yet your books demonstrate changes in language that give women power and create inclusive communities. Did your defeat come from the delayed acceptance of your ideas? Or perhaps you simply have regrets from your time in academia, and if this is the case, what advice would you give to young professors or students to ensure their success and emotional well-being? Finally, do you feel that at this moment in time have we as women have gotten back our stolen language?

Outside of the correspondence, I am curious to know as a linguist what you think the definition of feminism is and how language has helped that definition evolve over time. I am very interested in also knowing how far you think the world has come in regards to inclusive language, and how much farther we still have to go.

Thank you for your work and inspiration for future generations.

Amy Jones

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