Blond On Blonde

Bad Blond AdviceRecently, I wrote about female TV conservatives who are blond. Immediately, the phone rang. It was Andrea.

“That’s not how you spell blond,” she said, but with an –e on the end of it. “It is blond without an –e for men, and blond with an –e for women.”

If it weren’t for Andrea’s large stockpile of assault rifles and Facebook page filled with violent conservative grammar rhetoric, I would have hung up right then.

“And what are you gonna do to me?” I asked.

“You don’t want to know,” she replied with a disturbing calm.

Of course: the Grammar Inquisition! A lot of good liberal grammarians were tortured for ending sentences with prepositions back in the 90s.

“Do your best,” I said and hung up the phone.

I know my days are numbered, so I need to get this out while I still can. Both blond and brunet were originally French words. As a result, when applied to females in the French language, one would add an –e or a –te to the ends of these words. Thus: garçon blond (blond boy) and jeune fille blonde (blond girl).

But I forgot! I don’t speak French; I speak English. And the funny thing about English is that we don’t do that. So the Grammar Inquisition can bite me. I won’t back down!

It isn’t just me saying this. Let us go back to the 1926 first edition of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H W Fowler:

The –e should be dropped; the practice now usual is to retain it when the word is used either as noun or as adjective of a woman & drop it otherwise (the blonde girl; she is a blond; she has a blond complexion; the blond races); but this is by no means universal, & the doubt between blond women & blonde women (with blondes women in the background) at once shows its absurdity.

That’s in 1926, or as I say, “Almost 100 fucking years ago!”

Today, there are major issues with the use of these words as nouns because they are seen as sexist. The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style has the following to say about this:

The use of blond and brunette as nouns is also controversial, chiefly for two reasons. First, these words invariably refer to females and never to males. A sentence like That blonde is getting up from her seat is fairly common, but the counterpart usage applied to a man, as in That blond is getting up from his seat, is so rare as to sound comical. Second, the noun use reduces an individual to the attribute of hair color, as does the adjectival use applied to individuals (as in the blonde woman). Since men are not normally described in such terms, it is best to avoid these nouns and to restrict the adjective to modify the word hair: The woman [or man] with blond hair got up and walked away.

I don’t think this is bad advice, but I do use blond as a noun to describe men—admittedly, less often than I do with women.

The main thing is that using “blond” and “brunet” only makes usage more clear. There is no point in clinging to these gender signifiers—regardless of what the Grammar Inquisition has to say.

3 thoughts on “Blond On Blonde

  1. And now, message from your Inquisitor:

    "That’s not how you spell blond," she said, but with an -e on the end of it. "It is blond without an -e for men, and blond with a -e for women."

    [It is also "an" -e for women.].

    …As a result, when applied to females in the French language, one would add an -e or an -te to the ends of these words. Thus: garçon blond (blond boy) and jeune fille blonde (blond girl).

    […one would add…"a" -te…]

    But I forgot! I don’t speak French; I speak English. And the funny thing about English is that we don’t do that. So the Grammar Inquisition can bite me. I won’t back down!

    [You don’t speak French, and yet you pedantically use the French character "ç" in garçon and, without doubt, do not pronounce it gar-kon nor gar-sahn.]

    There is no point is clinging to these gender signifiers—regardless of what the Grammar Inquisition has to say.

    [There is also no point "in" clinging to spellcheck, as it is far less reliable than the Grammar Inqisition.]

  2. @Andrea – That’s all you got? Two typos and a little pedantry? Pathetic or perhaps pathétique.

    Comrades! Join the Grammar Liberation Front! We are collecting copies of Fowler for an aerial bombardment of New Jersey!

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