Gender Neutrality in Language

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
KroniK907
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2013 12:24 am UTC
Contact:

Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby KroniK907 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:07 pm UTC

Please continue flame war from "Time" thread here.... (like this is ever going to happen but I will make an effort to try...)
I used to miss my ex girlfriend, but my aim is slowly improving

I have been here since the beginning of Time

User avatar
Ayriannah
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:24 pm UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Ayriannah » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:17 pm UTC

KroniK907 wrote:Please continue flame war from "Time" thread here.... (like this is ever going to happen but I will make an effort to try...)

I'm not sure if it ever made it quite to the point of 'flame war'- there were only like 8 posts, and they all ended with a 'it doesn't really matter, right guys?'

it was, in fact rather polite...
P.S. I am not Randall. I am an initiate of Time. All is measured by the passage of the Newpix.

maqist
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2013 3:00 pm UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby maqist » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:21 pm UTC

By coincidence in my English class this morning some of my classmates and I were talking about underappreciated gender-neutral pronouns, then we watched a film.

Some of the better ones were 'chick' and 'bab' - Bab being derived from Baby and not as one of my classmates proposed kebab.

kaley
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:52 pm UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby kaley » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:32 pm UTC

We just need to keep the women-folk from venturing into the Internets where all the nerdy guys (who can't relate to women anyway) are, and everything will be fine.

(In case it's not obvious, that was not a serious comment)

Cayen
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:12 pm UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Cayen » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:36 pm UTC

I've been following Time pretty much since the beginning (page 4 or so). The gender pronoun debate has been an interesting, if distracting, sidebar to the discussion. I feel I've got a unique perspective, since I'm a non-binary trans* person whose pronouns are actually singular they. (Perhaps telling that I registered for this discussion and not for Time, but anyway.)

They is, colloquially, used to refer to two groups in the usual cisgendered society, temporarily erasing the existence of people like me: A group of any gender makeup, or a person of indeterminate gender. That's why my pronouns are they; I'm genderfluid, so someone walking up to me literally cannot predict my experience of gender at the time, and therefore cannot fit a pronoun to that experience. They is a convenient catch-all that has more traction than other nonbinary pronouns I've seen, such as zie, ce, zhe, co, and others. (I might use co, which is based on the prefix signifying togetherness, if I thought there was a hope in hell of anyone respecting it.) The only difference is that I use theirself instead of themself.

They is grammatically correct in the singular. I think I saw a post in the thread for Time in which a commenter said that it's awkward to use they; well, we got used to you as both a plural and singular second-person pronoun, so I don't see why they is any different. (I forget when exactly the change was, but originally, you was only plural, and thou was singular.)

Oh, and to head off any particular dictionary attack, I'm a descriptivist. I reject the premise that the dictionary is the be-all-end-all authority on the English Language. The OED's editions are 50 years apart, and think of how English has changed in the last five decades. We don't have an Academie Française like French does. Our language is democratic and evolves based on usage. This is just one such mutation.

* The asterisk above is evidently meant as a wildcard rather than a footnote, but I thought I'd add this here after approving the post, to help others who are confused as I was. - gmalivuk

User avatar
Angelastic
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:36 am UTC
Location: .at (let's see what's through here!)
Contact:

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Angelastic » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:37 pm UTC

So, uh… this doesn't really answer the question, because all the possible nonstandard gender-neutral pronouns would have made it a maze of twisty arrows, all different, but I did make a flow chart (huge ass-pdf | preview, disclaimers, etc.) for choosing pronouns a little while ago, and it might help in simple cases. At the very least it'll give you enough fuel to turn this thread into a flame war/illuminating discussion about my own grammar, if that's what you want. There's even a flame in it.

Personally, I think it's best not to use gender-specific pronouns (of which 'he' is one. I don't particularly mind 'guys' when there are females, though, even though Douglas Hofstadter thinks that's not okay) for people whose gender is unspecified, and most of the time gender is irrelevant to the discussion so it's not worth making a big effort to find out people's gender or making much of a fuss over it (apart from simply correcting the person) if someone accidentally uses the wrong gender-specific pronoun. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go stare at a static black-and-white image for several half-hours.

(Oh no, what have I done? Now I've ventured out of the 'Individual comics' forum, I could be stuck in here for days!)
Knight Temporal, and Archdeacon of buttermongery and ham and cheese sandwiches. Nobody sells butter except through me.
Image Smiley by yappobiscuits. Avatar by GLR, buffygirl, BlitzGirl & mscha, with cari.j.elliot's idea.
Haiku Detector
starts a trend to make way for
my robot army.

Derek
Posts: 2178
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:15 am UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Derek » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:41 pm UTC

Nice chart, and I liked the theme for examples. But would you be upset if I told you there was a typo in it? (Last bubble, "cheal" instead of "cheap").

Zindaras
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:11 am UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Zindaras » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:10 pm UTC

I generally subscribe to the "whatever you want me to use" school of thought. I personally like (s)he, since it's fairly simple, but such combinations don't really work well for everything. Hir? Hes? And then we're not even getting into other languages.

Cayen wrote:They is grammatically correct in the singular. I think I saw a post in the thread for Time in which a commenter said that it's awkward to use they; well, we got used to you as both a plural and singular second-person pronoun, so I don't see why they is any different. (I forget when exactly the change was, but originally, you was only plural, and thou was singular.)


You might find it interesting, then, to know that in Dutch, the third-person plural pronoun "zij" is the same as the third-person singular feminine pronoun. Using your approach there might be a little bit problematic.

Though the Dutch language does seem to be moving slightly towards a different third-person plural pronoun, so this may not last forever.

goofy
Posts: 911
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby goofy » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:28 pm UTC

Cayen wrote:They is grammatically correct in the singular. I think I saw a post in the thread for Time in which a commenter said that it's awkward to use they; well, we got used to you as both a plural and singular second-person pronoun, so I don't see why they is any different. (I forget when exactly the change was, but originally, you was only plural, and thou was singular.)


they has been used as a common-gender common-number pronoun for 600 years. That is, it's been used with antecedents like anyone, each, everyone, nobody, somebody, a person. But it hasn't been used to refer to a specific individual. Using they to refer to a specific known individual, as you seem to want to use it, is pretty new and is nonstandard. I'm not saying you shouldn't use it, I'm saying it's not standard English.

English actually had a gender-neutral pronoun that could refer to specific known individuals: a. It was a reduced form of both he and heo (she). This is from Hamlet:

1604 Shakespeare Hamlet iii. iii. 73 Now might I doe it, but now a is a praying, And now Ile doo't, and so a goes to heauen.


Modern versions have he. This line is talking about a specific individual (Polonius).

This quote shows it being used in place of she:

1387 J. Trevisa MS. Cott. Vesp. D. vii. 29 b, He ran home to uore & prayede hys wyf þat hue wolde helpe for to saue hym,‥bote a dude þe contrary.
"He ran home in advance and prayed to his wife that she would help save him… but she did the opposite."

User avatar
Adam H
Posts: 1267
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Adam H » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:45 pm UTC

I'm a fan of "ze" and derivatives. "They" can be confusing but I'll use it if it sounds OK.

And of course, "he" is an incredibly useful alternative if you know you aren't around prickly people. :P
-Adam

User avatar
Angelastic
Posts: 700
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 8:36 am UTC
Location: .at (let's see what's through here!)
Contact:

Re: Gender Neutrality in Language

Postby Angelastic » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:57 pm UTC

In case anyone's interested, I finally got around to fixing that typo Derek pointed out (thanks!) and then got carried away and made a whole lot of little things a bit better-aligned and also rearranged bigger things so that it fits in a square. Then I added it as a poster on Zazzle in case anyone wants a poster of it and doesn't feel like printing their own. (huge ass-pdf | boring ass-blog post | Xyzzly Zazzly poster)
Knight Temporal, and Archdeacon of buttermongery and ham and cheese sandwiches. Nobody sells butter except through me.
Image Smiley by yappobiscuits. Avatar by GLR, buffygirl, BlitzGirl & mscha, with cari.j.elliot's idea.
Haiku Detector
starts a trend to make way for
my robot army.


Return to “Language/Linguistics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests