Home | Download | Discussion | Help | Site Map | New Posts | Sign in

Latest Site News

Theme Catchup2018 - posted on 1st May 2018 at 1:50 PM
Replies: 26 (Who?), Viewed: 18064 times.
Page 1 of 2
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#1 Old 24th Aug 2015 at 8:33 PM Last edited by frankie : 25th Aug 2015 at 3:04 AM. Reason: Added honorific title section.
The Singular Gender-Neutral Pronouns Debate
I recently started preparing the notes for my first story with a non-binary character, especially a point-of-view character. This topic has now been on my mind for some time, hence my reason for this thread.

For years, I've wondered why English never had a proper set of singular gender-neutral pronouns. It used to be he a long time ago, but that is now considered biased/sexist (though, some people still use it and insist it is the only correct form). He or she as a phrase is the standard usage, especially in formal situations, but I personally find it tedious and unnecessary, even when shortened to he/she or s/he. Sometimes, when authors write articles or blogs, they will use either or, depending on their gender. They is only acceptable in informal situations, but it doesn't always work.

Imagine the following sentence that uses a gender-neutral name: Jaime always prepares his/her meals. What if we don't know whether Jaime is male or female, especially online when there is anonymity? Just ask, right? No, because for all we know, Jaime may not want to disclose his/her gender, or he/she may be non-binary, agender, or any other gender that isn't exclusively male or female, possibly making he and she offensive. Their doesn't work: Jaime always prepares their meals. That implies that Jaime always prepares meals for more than one people. One doesn't work: Jaime always prepares one's meals. One is exclusive to speaking in general. It especially doesn't work because it's both offensive and usually used only for inanimate objects and animals/creatures with an unknown sex (once you know the animal's/creature's sex, then it isn't necessary).

This is why there has been increasing demand for singular gender-neutral pronouns, especially over the recent years with the increased awareness of the genderqueer community. I've been searching online for solutions, and there is a number of suggestions and uses. Some have been used in stories, and some are used in the genderqueer community. I came across a blog (link below) that pinpoints the most common variations, and I will quote them in case the link doesn't work.

But first, I want to share my theory on a particular variation:

Ne/nir/nirs/nirself

Examples:

01. Ne is trying to fit in.
02. That gender-neutral pronoun does not belong to me; it belongs to nir.
03. It is not mine; it is nirs.
04. Ne is acting like nirself.

Symbolic Letters:

N = neutral, also used for ambiguity
I = him, his, himself
R = her, hers, herself

Explanation:

Because I is from the masculine form and R is from the feminine, combining the two creates a simplified neutral form with the pronunciation of -er and -ur. But wouldn’t the feminine form in terms of declensions be biased? No, because it is a consistent and simplified form, much like the it form, and it is easier to remember with no unnecessary complication or tedium. The same cannot be said about the declensions of the me, you, he, we, and they forms when learning them for the first time. As far as ne instead of ni, it is unambiguous in pronunciation because of the E in me, he, she, and we. Even be is pronounced that way. The pronunciation of ni could be mistaken for the I in hi, high, nigh, and sigh. Also, to some (or possibly many) people, ne is may look more aesthetically pleasing than ni is because of the different vowels in proximity, especially when it comes to the contractions of ne’s and ni’s. But of course, that could be subjective.

Other Letters:

I'm not opposed to F, P, Z, or any other logical consonant. I only went with N because it symbolizes the term neutral, and it is also used for ambiguity. X, while generally denotes ambiguity, can be confusing because it varies in sound. Compare: taxi (ks sound), xylophone (z sound), Xavier (eggs sound), Xia (sh sound?), and Ximena (h sound). Granted, the last two are foreign names, but there can still be confusion for some people. Even though ks is the standard English sound for X, xe and xirself sound awkward and cumbersome, and not everyone will initially know which sound the X makes in those particular examples. Simplicity is key.

Honorific Title:

Instead of Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms., Mixter (Mx.) is sometimes in use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gender Neutral Pronoun Blog
1. Ne/nem/nir/nirs/nemself

Ease of pronunciation: 4/5
Distinction from other pronouns: 4/5
Gender neutrality: 4.5/5

Although relatively obscure, this has become my favorite contender. It follows the formats of existing pronouns while staying more gender-neutral than any but Spivak – you could call it gender-balanced. “Ne” is n+(he or she), “nem” is n+her+him, “nir” is n+him+her. Because it has a different form for each declension, it doesn’t lean towards following male or female patterns – patterns made very obvious when you read works about obviously male characters with female-patterned pronoun forms. The letter “n” itself can stand for “neutral” – a property we are searching for. A reader may be uncertain how to pronounce “ne” at first glance, but pronunciation of the other forms is relatively obvious. One problem when reading aloud is that the “n” sometimes blends with words ending in “n” or “m,” but it didn’t occur as often and wasn’t as problematic as “zir” with words ending in an “s” or “z” sound (see entry #4).

2. Ve/ver/vis/vis/verself

Ease of pronunciation: 4/5
Distinction from other pronouns: 4/5
Gender neutrality: 4/5

“Ve” is another good option, found in some science fiction, without a specific bias towards either gender. The declension is again gender-balanced, being evenly split between forms that resemble “he” and “she.” But it does feel a bit more gender-heavy than “ne” – since “ver” and “vis” directly derive from “her” and “his,” readers are more easily reminded of the gendered forms. There are some cases where “ve” will bleed with words ending in “f” or “v” sounds, like “of” or “if,” but this wasn’t a problem very often – maybe about as often as with “ne.”

3. Spivak (ey/em/eir/eirs/eirself)

Ease of pronunciation: 4/5
Distinction from other pronouns:2/5
Gender neutrality: 5/5

Spivak is the most gender-free pronoun that parses well in English (as opposed to “ta” or “thon,” which are also gender-free but simply don’t work in the English language), since it derives from “they” rather than from a mix of “he” and “she.” The problem is, not only does it remove the “th” from “they,” it also changes its grammatical structure. Even ‘singular’ they is grammatically plural (i.e. you would say “they were in the building” rather than “they was in the building”), while Spivak is grammatically singular. The claim that the Spivak pronoun is “more natural” to say than other neologisms is undercut by the fact that it doesn’t actually have the same structure as the already-existing forms.

Furthermore, when spoken aloud, not only does “em” sound like “him” in speech, but people already write a plural “them” as em or ’em in informal writing, making the Spivak pronoun more ambiguous.

4. Ze/Hir and its derivatives

(ze/hir/hir/hirs/hirself) (zie/hir/hir/hirs/hirself)
(ze/zir/zir/zirs/zirself) (zie/zir/zir/zirs/zirself)

Ease of pronunciation: 3/5
Distinction from other pronouns: 2/5
Gender neutrality: 2.5/5

“Ze and hir” is the most popular form of gender-free pronoun in the online genderqueer community, derived from the earlier “sie and hir,” which were considered too feminine/female-sounding since “sie” is German for “she” (among other things), and “hir” was a feminine pronoun in Middle English. The current forms are still leaning on feminine, by using the same declensions as “she.” “Hir,” although it’s supposed to be pronounced “here,” is read as “her” by many people unfamiliar with the term, and the less-gendered alternative, “zir,” along with “ze” itself, often runs into problems when it follows a word ending in an “s” or “z” (or “th”) sound, sometimes sounding just like “her” and “he.” For example, read this sentence aloud: “As ze looked up at the stars, ze realized that this was zir favorite moment of them all.” This isn’t as much of a problem with “ze,” which doesn’t follow words ending in s/z terribly often, but the problem occurs much more often with “zir” than it did with any of the declensions of “ne” or “ve.”

5. Xe/xem/xyr/xyrs/xemself

Ease of pronunciation: 2/5
Distinction from other pronouns: 2.5/5
Gender neutrality: 3/5

“Xe,” it turns out, is supposed to be pronounced the same as “ze” – apparently it was an aesthetic change in order to distance the pronoun from its “sie/hir” roots one step further. It also balances the genders in the way “ze” does not – but it runs into the same pronunciation problems when following words ending in “s” or “z” sounds, and the pronunciation is much more difficult to guess at – I assumed the “x” would be pronounced “sh” or “ks,” which would be either much too gendered or much too unpronounceable to even be considered. All in all, it has slight advantages over zie/hir in its gender-neutrality, but it keeps the same difficulties in pronunciation and is even more difficult to read than the original.


Link: https://genderneutralpronoun.wordpress.com/



Debate Questions to Consider:

01. Should there be a new official set of pronouns, or is it fine the way it is?
02. Should there be just one set, or do you prefer options?
03. Which of the aforementioned ones do you use/prefer?
04. Do you have your own suggestions you'd like to share?
Advertisement
Top Secret Researcher
#2 Old 24th Aug 2015 at 10:20 PM
I definitely think there should be a gender-neutral option. Like you mentioned, 'they' can be misleading. Even if it's grammatically fine to use a singular 'they', some people insist that it's only a plural. I also use 'hir' online, where it's easy to tell the difference, but I would like something that's easier to pronounce. The Ne set looks like it should be easier to distinguish. If I use it, can I declare myself a Knight Who Says Ne?

Biggest problem I see with using that set is that readers will probably be a little confused if it suddenly pops up in the narrative. If ne's going to be a POV character, then it would probably help to introduce the set of pronouns first. If it's in first-person, then that character will have to be introduced first. If it's in third-person, then the set should be introduced with the character. If it's in second-person, then you must hand in your author card.

I'm actually creating a language for a book I'm writing, and the pronoun issue is something I've thought about. Putting it under a button because it's sort of relevant.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#3 Old 24th Aug 2015 at 10:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by hugbug993
I definitely think there should be a gender-neutral option. Like you mentioned, 'they' can be misleading. Even if it's grammatically fine to use a singular 'they', some people insist that it's only a plural. I also use 'hir' online, where it's easy to tell the difference, but I would like something that's easier to pronounce. The Ne set looks like it should be easier to distinguish. If I use it, can I declare myself a Knight Who Says Ne?

Biggest problem I see with using that set is that readers will probably be a little confused if it suddenly pops up in the narrative. If ne's going to be a POV character, then it would probably help to introduce the set of pronouns first. If it's in first-person, then that character will have to be introduced first. If it's in third-person, then the set should be introduced with the character. If it's in second-person, then you must hand in your author card.

I'm actually creating a language for a book I'm writing, and the pronoun issue is something I've thought about. Putting it under a button because it's sort of relevant.


I see your point. I agree with a lot of what you said. As far as writing fiction, I agree that, because this is still new to many people, an introduction of some sort would be expected. But how would you introduce it without being wordy, boring, or resorting to info-dump? My story is actually in third-person, so it is going to be a challenge and tedium to write, but it's necessary for the POV character.

The following Wikipedia link covers the gender issue more specifically, and I found it enlightening: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gende...lity_in_English
Top Secret Researcher
#4 Old 24th Aug 2015 at 11:18 PM
For introducing it, I tend to follow the rule that things aren't talked about explicitly unless they or the situation is unusual to the characters. Otherwise, it has to be shown or alluded to. This is one of the situations where telling is probably better than showing, so it would have to be a situation that's out of the ordinary. There's a reason introductions are used for things like this, and it's because things that are normal to the rest of the cast are unusual for the new person. For example:
"Hey, this is Jaime. Ne likes those books, too."
"Ne?"
"Yeah. Jaime prefers gender-neutral terms, because ne isn't male or female."
"What is... ne, then?"
"Ask nir yourself. Ne's right over there."

Or you could have an exceptional version of the ordinary, like the time Jaime finally blows up from dozens of times of getting misgendered.
"Hey, this is Jaime. He likes those books, too."
"I'm not a he. I told you that I prefer gender-neutral terms."
"So? How do you expect me to remember that ne, nir, nemmy crap? You're a guy, dude, stop being a special snowflake and making things difficult for the rest of us.*"
Cue explosion.

*Don't really believe this, and the speaker should be kicked in the balls.

Or even when Jaime first comes out as genderqueer, assuming ne isn't already by the start of the story. You can show that through the eyes of a concerned friend, or whoever the other POV people are. You could even tell it through Jaime when ne first decides to take on the new set of pronouns and starts researching alternatives. In that case, a few slip-ups in the narrative might be forgiveable, as Jaime nemself gets used to the new set and mentally corrects the mistakes. Maybe ne'd even have to look up the right word a few times.

Basically, make it new for the characters, whether it's a new thing that needs to become normal, or a new take on the normal. If it's a new take on the normal, then focus on the new part and how it relates to the normal. Keep it short and to the point - if the characters forget, they can be reminded later, and spaced repetition (especially when there's something new added every time) will help the readers remember more than one big chunk of text explaining everything.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#5 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 12:25 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by hugbug993
For introducing it, I tend to follow the rule that things aren't talked about explicitly unless they or the situation is unusual to the characters. Otherwise, it has to be shown or alluded to. This is one of the situations where telling is probably better than showing, so it would have to be a situation that's out of the ordinary. There's a reason introductions are used for things like this, and it's because things that are normal to the rest of the cast are unusual for the new person. For example:
"Hey, this is Jaime. Ne likes those books, too."
"Ne?"
"Yeah. Jaime prefers gender-neutral terms, because ne isn't male or female."
"What is... ne, then?"
"Ask nir yourself. Ne's right over there."

Or you could have an exceptional version of the ordinary, like the time Jaime finally blows up from dozens of times of getting misgendered.
"Hey, this is Jaime. He likes those books, too."
"I'm not a he. I told you that I prefer gender-neutral terms."
"So? How do you expect me to remember that ne, nir, nemmy crap? You're a guy, dude, stop being a special snowflake and making things difficult for the rest of us.*"
Cue explosion.

*Don't really believe this, and the speaker should be kicked in the balls.

Or even when Jaime first comes out as genderqueer, assuming ne isn't already by the start of the story. You can show that through the eyes of a concerned friend, or whoever the other POV people are. You could even tell it through Jaime when ne first decides to take on the new set of pronouns and starts researching alternatives. In that case, a few slip-ups in the narrative might be forgiveable, as Jaime nemself gets used to the new set and mentally corrects the mistakes. Maybe ne'd even have to look up the right word a few times.

Basically, make it new for the characters, whether it's a new thing that needs to become normal, or a new take on the normal. If it's a new take on the normal, then focus on the new part and how it relates to the normal. Keep it short and to the point - if the characters forget, they can be reminded later, and spaced repetition (especially when there's something new added every time) will help the readers remember more than one big chunk of text explaining everything.


Those are some good examples. I like the "cue explosion" one because it creates conflict, and whatever you write, you always want conflict in your story. My only worry is if I had an interview about a published story, I might describe my genderqueer character and accidentally use he or she on occasion. That'd be extremely embarrassing as an author of such a story, especially when I should know better. I guess I need to practice using gender-neutral pronouns to avoid that accident.
Top Secret Researcher
#6 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 1:22 AM
Don't worry. You'll probably have more than enough practice using them once you finish writing your book. And editing it. And re-drafting. And editing. And re-drafting.

The second one isn't necessarily the only one that creates conflict. Character vs. self can be even more fascinating than character vs. character. If Jaime is uncertain about putting nemself out there in a way that contradicts most of what society tells nem, then exploring that can create a conflict that's even rockier than anything you can get between two separate characters.

But we're probably going to get the thread kicked out of the Debate Room and into Off-Topic if we keep talking shop. Want to discuss this through PM?

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#7 Old 25th Aug 2015 at 1:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by hugbug993
Don't worry. You'll probably have more than enough practice using them once you finish writing your book. And editing it. And re-drafting. And editing. And re-drafting.

The second one isn't necessarily the only one that creates conflict. Character vs. self can be even more fascinating than character vs. character. If Jaime is uncertain about putting nemself out there in a way that contradicts most of what society tells nem, then exploring that can create a conflict that's even rockier than anything you can get between two separate characters.

But we're probably going to get the thread kicked out of the Debate Room and into Off-Topic if we keep talking shop. Want to discuss this through PM?


You're right; I didn't mean that as the only conflict. I'll PM you.
Mad Poster
#9 Old 29th Aug 2015 at 11:33 AM
Isn't the point of he/she to differensiate between genders and create a little less confusion regarding who you're talking or writing about?

I agree that in some cases it would be nice with a gender neutral pronoun, such as when talking in general terms (instead of saying 'he/she will do so-and-so, and he or she is meant to this and that'), or instead of using 'they', or when a person doesn't feel comfortable with a he/she pronoun.

A gender neutral set would be useful, but having more than one set would be very confusing. It would have to be something that fits into the existing system without sounding off. I'm not sure I like any of the mentioned options, because they sound a bit off.

The N-option might work, because the N-sound is more distinctive than the others, but the pronounciation might be a bit difficult for fast talkers (try to say 'nirself' or 'nerself' fast several times - the n to rs sound is not very easy, and might end up getting your tongue in a curl, or sounding more like 'nurse-elf'). Z and X sound like S, so Zir or Xir would sound like Sir, which would create confusion. Same with Hir, which sounds a lot like Her. The E-option might be confusing when people talk with an accent (them = 'em).
Mad Poster
#11 Old 29th Aug 2015 at 5:40 PM Last edited by simmer22 : 29th Aug 2015 at 6:03 PM.
Does Chinese have anything similar to pronouns?

In English the useage of pronouns is among other things to shorten down sentences, and so you don't have to mention people's names more than once in every single sentence, or even in the next one.
Take a line like "Alexandria thinks Alexandria's older brother is nice, because Alexandria's older brother helps Alexandria with Alexandria's homework. Alexandria's younger brother is too young to help with Alexandria's homework, because Alexandria's younger brother is still a baby."
compared to "Alexandria thinks her older brother is nice because he helps her with her homework. Her younger brother is too young to help with her homework, because he's still a baby."
You can use both, but the latter one is a bit more effective. You could use names instead of he/she, but it would be heavy reading if names are long.

I have no clue how Chinese is built up and how it works in practice, but I'm sure it works fine for those who use it. This way to write has worked fine here in the west for probably several hundred years, in one format or the other (because minor language changes happen all the time), and probably for most of the languages related to English. Chinese has a different origin than English, and has a whole different setup, so comparing the two doesn't really get you anywhere useful. If we skipped pronouns entirely in English, we'd probably have to make a new language out of what was left. We'd probably be able to manage with one set of pronouns, but it would take time to implement this in the language, and would probably take a few generations to get used to.
Mad Poster
#13 Old 29th Aug 2015 at 7:19 PM
I've seen people using 'she' instead of 'he' when talking/writing generically, sometimes depending on the setting and other times not. I do agree that having a generic set of pronouns would be useful for generic use, but as an addition.
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#14 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 8:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by simmer22
I've seen people using 'she' instead of 'he' when talking/writing generically...


I've seen a lot of that in articles/blog posts about tips on writing fiction, generally by female authors. However, a lot of these articles/blog posts are about the romance genre, so you could figure that they are using "she" because they are referring to heroines, and most of time in adult and teen romances, the main POV character is female because the target audience is women and girls. However, I'm sure this isn't the only reason. I was just pointing out what I've noticed. I have also noticed in such articles/blog posts about spec-fic writing tips by male authors, and they tend to use "he" quite a bit. Again, it could just be because of the genre and its target audience, but it could also be the author's preference. Some authors are also random with the pronouns.
Field Researcher
#15 Old 30th Aug 2015 at 9:20 PM
By lucky coincidence, I just came across https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpres...come-to-campus/, which may be of interest since it considers why gender neutral pronouns are unlikely to enter into widespread usage.
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#16 Old 31st Aug 2015 at 5:38 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnian
By lucky coincidence, I just came across https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpres...come-to-campus/, which may be of interest since it considers why gender neutral pronouns are unlikely to enter into widespread usage.


Almost all the comments I've read from that article agree with the "they" option because it's been used for so long, and they insist that it will just have to become grammatically accepted. We'll see what happens.

I noticed a silly comment that suggested the abbreviation for he/she/it as s/h/it.
Mad Poster
#17 Old 31st Aug 2015 at 6:47 PM Last edited by simmer22 : 31st Aug 2015 at 7:00 PM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie
I've seen a lot of that in articles/blog posts about tips on writing fiction, generally by female authors. However, a lot of these articles/blog posts are about the romance genre, so you could figure that they are using "she" because they are referring to heroines, and most of time in adult and teen romances, the main POV character is female because the target audience is women and girls. However, I'm sure this isn't the only reason. I was just pointing out what I've noticed. I have also noticed in such articles/blog posts about spec-fic writing tips by male authors, and they tend to use "he" quite a bit. Again, it could just be because of the genre and its target audience, but it could also be the author's preference. Some authors are also random with the pronouns.


Actually, not just in fiction. Some of my school books tend to use 'she' as a general term, referring to the patient as 'she', instead of 'he'. Some mix it up, probably for a bit of balance. I probably made a mental note of it since it's more common to use 'he'. It wasn't for a strictly female ailment, either (if it is a gender-spesific ailment, then the proper gender is used). I've also noticed some of my teachers will use 'she' as a general term for 'the patient' - but since I'm a nurse student, that might explain some of it.

Maybe the s/h/it should be used. I rather like that option

Jokes aside, I'm pretty happy with 'they' as a general term. Or maybe we should take back 'Thee' or 'thou' or the other old Shapespeare-ish pronouns I can't remember (I'm a bit lost on the grammar and spelling, so escuse me if I'm actually lost on this). 'Thee' could perhaps work nicely for both genders as the 'unknown' version.
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#18 Old 31st Aug 2015 at 11:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by simmer22
Jokes aside, I'm pretty happy with 'they' as a general term. Or maybe we should take back 'Thee' or 'thou' or the other old Shapespeare-ish pronouns I can't remember (I'm a bit lost on the grammar and spelling, so escuse me if I'm actually lost on this). 'Thee' could perhaps work nicely for both genders as the 'unknown' version.


That's interesting. But I have a feeling "they" will still get more votes if just because it's already heavily used even though many grammarians (particularly, the grammar Nazis) may not like it. But many things that are correct and standard now weren't centuries ago, so their argument could eventually be ignored.
Instructor
#20 Old 1st Sep 2015 at 3:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlatinumPlumbbob
Personally, I've never felt using the generic he is sexist, and I use that quite liberally. If a person wants to use the generic he, let him do it, and not be afraid of derision or mockery from radicals. If a person wants to use the singular they, let him do it; this "debate" is getting nowhere.


I'm for "they," but I'd still rather just use "he" and "she" when gender is known (note: gender and sex are different things).
Top Secret Researcher
#21 Old 1st Sep 2015 at 6:01 AM Last edited by hugbug993 : 1st Sep 2015 at 6:27 AM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by simmer22
Jokes aside, I'm pretty happy with 'they' as a general term. Or maybe we should take back 'Thee' or 'thou' or the other old Shapespeare-ish pronouns I can't remember (I'm a bit lost on the grammar and spelling, so escuse me if I'm actually lost on this). 'Thee' could perhaps work nicely for both genders as the 'unknown' version.


'Thee' and 'thou' are second-person pronouns. They were originally paired with 'you' and 'your'. The difference was that 'thee' and 'thou' were the informal pair, used for people who were close to you or your social inferiors. 'You' and 'your' were the formal set, used for people who were socially higher-up or in your class but not close to you.

I think 'thee' would sound too similar to 'the', though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlatinumPlumbbob
Personally, I've never felt using the generic he is sexist, and I use that quite liberally. If a person wants to use the generic he, let him do it, and not be afraid of derision or mockery from radicals. If a person wants to use the singular they, let him do it; this "debate" is getting nowhere.


Yeah, but if I were to come into Northern China and start calling all the women 小姐, do you think the fact that it's a word for 'woman' and I don't find it offensive would stop people from finding it offensive? Should I just go ahead and call people that, not caring about what the 'radicals' might think?(Though they might actually find it hilarious that the Western person sucks at Chinese, but I digress.)

And I'd really rather you not call me a guy, thank you very much.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Top Secret Researcher
#23 Old 1st Sep 2015 at 12:10 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlatinumPlumbbob
Actually, I would think you don't know what you are talking about contextually. Although I would interpret that to mean a polite address to a young woman, I'm aware that other parts of China use it to imply a prostitute. Alternatively, I may think you are using a different dialect and be forgiving about it. You'll be surprised how forgiving people can be . . . though, some people can be forgiving in a condescending manner.


The generic he is no longer acceptable in any dialect of English, hasn't been used in formal language for at least 20 years, and has been criticized for more than 50. Given all that, I would think more the former about you - not understanding English - than the latter. I would be inclined to forgive you the mistake if you weren't brazenly trumpeting that you don't care about using the proper form.

My MTS writing group, The Story Board
Mad Poster
Original Poster
#25 Old 1st Sep 2015 at 9:51 PM Last edited by frankie : 2nd Sep 2015 at 12:32 AM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PlatinumPlumbbob
this "debate" is getting nowhere.


But it is, as evident from your and hugbug993's posts. Until everyone here unanimously agrees with the same point, it will continue to be a debate. As far as I can read, that isn't happening anytime soon.

Also, I'm with hugbug993 in that he has fallen out of favor and has become frowned upon by many people, not just feminists. It's not a coincidence that many men prefer to use it. Gee, I wonder why? When a former male friend of mine had insisted that he should continue to be the standard usage while expressing his misogyny, that was when I realized why many men still don't get it. Why should they? It's a man's world, and they know it. And I'm saying this as a man. Thankfully, these men are a dying breed (slowly, but surely). We no longer use the thou pronoun because English has changed and still changes, but apparently, not everyone gets the memo each time.

In other words, he no longer means he or she to many people. To those many people, it explicitly means he. Whoever wishes to use it has every right to do so. Just don't complain when you (generally speaking) are looked at as sexist because that's the connotation in 2015. This isn't the 1950s anymore, so it's time to get with the program.
Page 1 of 2
Back to top