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#3316 Edwardo

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:19

This one annoys me greatly. It's downright clumsy having to write "he/she", "he or she", or "s/he" (try reading the last out loud), but writing "she" everywhere is no better than writing "he" everywhere - it assumes a gender which may be incorrect. It also tends to distract the reader's attention, leading them to think about gender issues rather than the subject of the writing.

I have no idea what we're supposed to do. I have another dilemma with forms of address: if I don't know the marital status of a lady (and why should I?) then should I write to her as Miss, or Mrs? If I choose Ms, I stand an equal chance of causing offence.

Fortunately I work in science, so I can call everyone "Dr" with little risk, and I rarely get the opportunity to use a pronoun. Stuffy journal editors get upset at the mention of something so human as a "he" or a "she", let alone (heaven forbid!) an "I". I don't write. It was written.

 

I write technical documents for a living. Well, actually I write code for a living; the associated documents are a by-product.  I always use 'she' as the gender-neutral pronoun because it cannot give offence save to those eager to be offended.  The same applies to 'Ms', which is the marital-status-neutral form of address.  I decline to imagine the sort of individual who would be offended by such a form.


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#3317 elephant

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 15:25

 

This one annoys me greatly. It's downright clumsy having to write "he/she", "he or she", or "s/he" (try reading the last out loud), but writing "she" everywhere is no better than writing "he" everywhere - it assumes a gender which may be incorrect. It also tends to distract the reader's attention, leading them to think about gender issues rather than the subject of the writing.

I have no idea what we're supposed to do. I have another dilemma with forms of address: if I don't know the marital status of a lady (and why should I?) then should I write to her as Miss, or Mrs? If I choose Ms, I stand an equal chance of causing offence.

Fortunately I work in science, so I can call everyone "Dr" with little risk, and I rarely get the opportunity to use a pronoun. Stuffy journal editors get upset at the mention of something so human as a "he" or a "she", let alone (heaven forbid!) an "I". I don't write. It was written.

 

I write technical documents for a living. Well, actually I write code for a living; the associated documents are a by-product.  I always use 'she' as the gender-neutral pronoun because it cannot give offence save to those eager to be offended.  The same applies to 'Ms', which is the marital-status-neutral form of address.  I decline to imagine the sort of individual who would be offended by such a form.

 

 

I used to make my living by writing (on environment/sustainable development) and was often faced with the gender problem. I never found a solution that I was really happy with but I don't think claiming that "she" is "gender neutral" really does the trick. After all, "he" could also only give offence to those "eager to be offended". 

I think, in the end, I'd argue for adoption of "they" as a new neutral plural (however grammatically awkward it might feel at first).

 

A few definitions to be going on with:

 

"She is the feminine third-person, singular personal pronoun."

 

"He, she, him and her show gender."

 

"The woman or girl or female animal previously named or in question." (Oxford Concise)


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#3318 Sylvette

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 15:43

There is the option to use 'one' if the context is sufficiently formal, although it can sound pretentious.  When I used to write a business advice column in a trade journal, I often wrote in the second person (e.g. "you should consider whether to implement x or y solution, depending on your situation").


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#3319 elemimele

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 08:40

... it'd also be nice to have a pronoun for people who have a gender but it's not yet know; I never knew what to call our baby before he was born. "It" seemed a bit thing-ish, but we didn't know if he was a he or a she at that stage.


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#3320 elephant

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 09:38

... it'd also be nice to have a pronoun for people who have a gender but it's not yet know; I never knew what to call our baby before he was born. "It" seemed a bit thing-ish, but we didn't know if he was a he or a she at that stage.

 It's actually the same problem as the one mentioned in my previous post. In the kind of texts I was drafting I would often have to refer (in the singular) to officials, delegates, engineers, consultants, etc. (e.g. "...a UN delegate will attend these meetings..... he/she will perform a song and dance routine during the lunch break", because I didn't know the gender of the delegate in advance).

 

My suggestion is to adopt "they" as the new plural neutral, i.e. "...a UN delegate will attend these meetings..... they will perform a song and dance routine during the lunch break".

 

I realise it feels uncomfortable at first but it does have the merit of sort of existing in ("bad") colloquial English.

 

It took me some time to get used to "Ms" but there is an inexorable logic (I could see no earthly reason why a woman's marital status should be toted around in her title, especially in a professional context). My initial objection was that it wasn't a recognisable English consonantal cluster (i.e. virtually unpronounceable). But then I got used to it…

 

Sylvette's suggestions are interesting, but they don't work in many contexts...


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#3321 Gran'piano

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 09:55

I think that 'it' for an as yet unborn baby sounds horrible. I think we gave ours each a normal name (which we didn't call them afterwards).

 

In texts, using 'man' in German which means 'one' doesn't sound as 'superior' as the latter sometimes does in English. Other than that, German is a bother with three genders which seem to have neither rhyme or reason in their usage. Knife is neuter, fork is feminine and spoon is masculine.   I cheat by using diminutives which are neutral. 'Girls' and 'young ladies' are neuter nouns anyway.


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#3322 Maizie

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 10:29

I realise it feels uncomfortable at first but it does have the merit of sort of existing in ("bad") colloquial English.

From the OED, definition 2 of they is "In anaphoric reference to a singular noun or pronoun of undetermined gender: he or she".  First reference is 1375, so uncomfortable or not, you have precedent!


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#3323 elemimele

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 11:04

"They" scared the kid's mother because it reminded her of the possibility of twins... but apart from that, I agree entirely (and I enjoyed the UN delegate example).


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#3324 elephant

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 11:55

 

I realise it feels uncomfortable at first but it does have the merit of sort of existing in ("bad") colloquial English.

From the OED, definition 2 of they is "In anaphoric reference to a singular noun or pronoun of undetermined gender: he or she".  First reference is 1375, so uncomfortable or not, you have precedent!

 

 

Youpeeee !!! Thanks !!


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#3325 Edwardo

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 12:20

For those who can bear it, there's a frankly terrible article by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian about Savannah Knoop, who prefers to be referred to using they/their.  


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