Education: Chairman's Lib

The British draw the line

"Chairman" is fine, but ''Chairperson" isn't, according to one of the language's most respected arbiters, the Oxford University Press, whose new 770-page paperback dictionary states crisply; "The word chairman may be used of persons of either sex."

The dictionary, which serves as a guide to British, rather than American usage was compiled by a woman, Joyce M. Hawkins, 50. Aware that "chairperson" and its kin (e.g., "spokesperson") are increasingly accepted in the U.S., she notes, "In this country, chairperson is treated with mild amusement." The huge Oxford English...

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