June 28th, 2012

i buy books

Vocabababble: Alumnus

The name plaques given to graduates of my school denotes us each as an alumnus, and I was just informed by a fellow graduate that this use is incorrect. I looked it up. By my assessment it is correct enough. In the English language it is quite traditional to lump females under the male gender term when combining genders in a word. My personal hobby of using she/her as the generic is still quite radical and is likely to be misunderstood. It is worth noting that the gender distribution at NCNM is significantly female preponderant.

Alumnus = a (male or generic) graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university, or a former associate, employee or member of a group. Alumni is the male or generic plural. Alumna is the feminine individual noun and alumnae is the feminine plural. The word originates from the Latin for foster son or pupil, dating back to 1635–45. Back then girls were even less likely to get edumacated.