I naturally encountered the problem of choosing a pronoun to refer to someone who could be male or female. I dealt with this by treating the masculine pronoun as referring to anyone of either sex; I find the other, newer ways of handling the problem too self-conscious to bear.

Source: p X of Preface, The Legal Analyst, Ward Farnsworth

I'm guessing that Definition 2 applies:

(Especially of an action or intention) deliberate and with full awareness, especially affectedly so:

Yet I still can't apprehend the meaning. Is the author saying that handing the problem is unnecessary, in that the problem isn't serious enough? Or is he submitting that it's truly a problem, but wants to cease consciousness of it? Please explain the steps or thought processes on how to determine this, for want of doing so by myself in the future?


You are correct about definition (2) in this case.

As for the meaning, I think he's referring to the ways people try to avoid referring to one gender when they mean both by using them instead of he or she, for example. In his estimation, these roundabout ways of referring to people with a gender-neutral form such as the plural, are simply ridiculous. H obviously doesn't see the need for them and finds these solutions affected and ostentatious.

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    I think the author's idea is that using some of the really new ways (especially the "made-up" pronouns like "hir" in place of "his/her") is basically a way of advertising: "Look at me, I'm politically correct! Aren't I wonderful for being so gender-neutral!" Which he finds to be ridiculous. – Hellion Aug 5 '14 at 16:16
  • Good point! Edited accordingly. – CocoPop Aug 5 '14 at 19:18
  • I think the payload here is in affected in definition 2: "assumed artificially; unnatural; feigned" – Alex J. Aug 5 '14 at 21:03
  • Sounds good to me. Done! – CocoPop Aug 5 '14 at 21:13

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