Recently, 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:
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:
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.