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Are there still specific pronouns in your world?


Liz CA
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One of my colleagues refuses to use gender-specific pronouns, i.e. his / her and uses "their" instead. "Client  (singular) described their relationship...."

Every time I read one of her reports, it jars me. I must be old.

Edited by Liz CA
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1 minute ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

They are definitely still a thing here, but I live in the backward land of social hierarchies according to some on these boards, LOL. But yeah- the only people I've heard of IRL who deal with what you describe either work in academia in the humanities field, OR do contract work with IT companies in CA where apparently the HR departments fear a lawsuit if someone is misgendered, so they aren't permitted to use pronouns at all which I find incredibly awkward when hearing people talk that way. Dh's company has stopped hiring in CA and is closing down any operations outside of business offices there bc of so many of the employment laws there- not necessarily to do with this but in general. Y'all are pretty strict, LOL. 

 

I think I am a Texan at heart!  🤗

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At eldest DS's college everyone is asked if they have a pronoun preference and then it's listed on their record so in the future, people interacting with them from the registrations/business office can in theory use the individuals preferred pronoun.  I've also started business correspondence that included the senders preferred pronoun choice listed under their signature.  

So it's becoming a bigger thing in my area (and I"m not even in CA).  Personally I stick with he/she.  I'm sorry if it offends someone but I have a hard enough time remembering names let alone another set of user specific information for each individual I encounter.

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Yes.   We are in an edge area.  We are in rural Oregon and gender specific pronouns and they/their only for two or more people is the norm locally.

 In Eugene and Portland people specifying what pronouns they prefer and frequent use of they/their to mean one person is getting fairly common, especially among people associated with colleges/universities/young adults. 

I particularly encountered it when I did NaNoWriMo, where at local meetings “what are your pronouns” seems to be the first question people were asking.

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We use a lot of "the student" and "their" in formal staff discussions about students at my workplace (a Bible College).

We find that this helps when we are trying to communicate about a situation without revealing who the student is -- the student body is small, and it's often quite easy to guess who the 'confidential' student in question is just by the story being discussed. There's no need to narrow down the guessing field by half by revealing which gender the student is.

We also find that it helps keep gender bias out of administrative or academic decisions. For example if "the student" was rude in class, 'she' shouldn't get a pass because 'of the stereotype that girls can be emotional or easily overwhelmed; if "the student" is habitually late with assignments 'he' shouldn't get more slack because of the stereotype that boys struggle with formal academics. If emotions are an excuse for rudeness, young men deserve that freedom too. If academic difficulty is an excuse for tardy assignments, we should be equally gracious to young women. Not knowing which one we are talking about (or knowing, but being in the habit of talking about students without specifying) can help keep the playing field level.

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7 minutes ago, SKL said:

Yes, and I am glad because frankly, I think the contrived non-gendered pronouns are a fad that will die soon.

Wow. 

First, singular "they" has been around since the 14th century.

Second, I hope people who identify as neither male nor female will receive more respect and not be considered a "fad" that needs to die.

Third, I hope we are moving in a direction where gender isn't used as the prevalent characteristic for sorting people into categories in situations where it is irrelevant.

Edited by regentrude
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Most people I encounter use gender specific pronouns most of the time.

I try to be mindful of not making assumptions about a person's gender, but admit that it is difficult to unlearn decade long habits. I try hard to use gender neutral pronouns for non-binary people, but despite my best efforts find that I make mistakes and use the wrong pronoun. I find it very difficult because I may think and feel of a certain person as a woman in my mind - they are AFAB and present female - and it is still always a conscious effort to talk about them using the gender neutral pronoun. Working on it. 

I wish we could evolve towards gender not being use for sorting all.the.time for every ridiculous situation. Certain airlines recently boasted that they now have a third option for the gender on airline tickets - and I think what the heck does gender have to do with airline travel in the first place? Why can't we leave it off altogether?

Edited by regentrude
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11 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Wow. 

First, singular "they" has been around since the 14th century.

Second, I hope people who identify as neither male nor female will receive more respect and not be considered a "fad" that needs to die.

Third, I hope we are moving in a direction where gender isn't used as the prevalent characteristic for sorting people into categories in situations where it is irrelevant.

We do have "s/he" and "him/her" and "one" for times when singular male or female pronouns are not applicable.  We could also use "a/the/that person" or "someone" or so many others.

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4 minutes ago, SKL said:

We do have "s/he" and "him/her" and "one" for times when singular male or female pronouns are not applicable.  We could also use "a/the/that person" or "someone" or so many others.

s/he and him/her are, first of all, awkward in speech and, second, will not apply to a non-binary person who is not either a he or a she, but considers themselves somewhere on a  continuum or fluid. That's the whole point of non-binary.

"one" is not a pronoun.  "that person" gets clumsy really fast. "That person handed in that person's report to that person's teacher"? Good grief!

"Someone" is vague. You're talking about Leslie. One possible way would be to use the person's name everywhere. I don't see why this is better than using the singular "they" the English language already has in place.

 

Edited by regentrude
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Most people naturally identify as male or female, he/she or whatever, and the idea of taking that away and not allowing people to use these terms when they feel right is disturbing.  Am I supposed to stop calling my daughters whatever I call them because somebody somewhere doesn't identify as male or female?

I do agree that there is no need to categorize people as much as we do, as in the example Regentrude provided.

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1 minute ago, SKL said:

Most people naturally identify as male or female, he/she or whatever, and the idea of taking that away and not allowing people to use these terms when they feel right is disturbing.  Am I supposed to stop calling my daughters whatever I call them because somebody somewhere doesn't identify as male or female?

No. If you know your daughter is female, of course you can refer to them as she/her. That's not what this is about. Nobody is mandating gender neutral pronouns for people who do identify with a specific gender and whose identity is known to you.

But we can be respectful of people who do not identify as male or female, and we could also learn to make fewer assumptions about people's genders. But this will take a while, because, as you said, for most people sex, gender, and presentation coincide, so it is difficult to wrap one's mind around the possibility that that may not be the case. I didn't know much about this before I had non-binary friends, and I have learned a lot about the topic since.

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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

s/he and him/her are, first of all, awkward in speech and, second, will not apply to a non-binary person who is not either a he or a she, but considers themselves somewhere on a  continuum or fluid. That's the whole point of non-binary.

"one" is not a pronoun.  "that person" gets clumsy really fast. "That person handed in that person's report to that person's teacher"? Good grief!

I don't find them awkward.  Even my kids as small children used to spontaneously say "him or her / he or she" when they were talking about what could be a male or a female.

We don't have to go out of our way to find the most awkward language.  "Charlie handed the report in to the teacher" would be fine.

I find it a lot more awkward to say of everyone "They handed their report into their teacher" when a single person is meant.  Sounds like a group project.  Either way it's confusing, but now we're confusing everyone instead of a tiny group of people who could be referred to by name or whatever.

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

But the non-binary person is NEITHER. "He or she" does not apply to them!

I get that.  But what are my kids supposed to do with that?  Ask every person if they identify as a gender?  I am not going to teach my kids to say "they" as a singular word.

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3 minutes ago, regentrude said:

No. If you know your daughter is female, of course you can refer to them as she/her. That's not what this is about. Nobody is mandating gender neutral pronouns for people who do identify with a specific gender and whose identity is known to you.

But we can be respectful of people who do not identify as male or female, and we could also learn to make fewer assumptions about people's genders. But this will take a while, because, as you said, for most people sex, gender, and presentation coincide, so it is difficult to wrap one's mind around the possibility that that may not be the case. I didn't know much about this before I had non-binary friends, and I have learned a lot about the topic since.

I did read the OP as asking whether gender-specific pronouns are still allowed / used in our experience.  In other words, do we avoid words like he/she/him/her?  My answer is no, and I'm glad because the words he/she/him/her are not attacks on those who prefer something else or nothing.

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6 minutes ago, SKL said:

I don't find them awkward.  Even my kids as small children used to spontaneously say "him or her / he or she" when they were talking about what could be a male or a female.

We don't have to go out of our way to find the most awkward language.  "Charlie handed the report in to the teacher" would be fine.

I find it a lot more awkward to say of everyone "They handed their report into their teacher" when a single person is meant.  Sounds like a group project.  Either way it's confusing, but now we're confusing everyone instead of a tiny group of people who could be referred to by name or whatever.

Language changes, and they as a gender neutral first person singular has actually been around in English for quite awhile.

Does using "you" as second person singular confuse you even though it originated as a second person plural and still fills that role? Would you be less confused if we all went back to thou for the singular?

I'm confident most speakers of English can navigate a singular they as a pronoun option.

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Favorite tidbits from the above linked article:

"the Tennessee state legislature passed a law banning the use of taxpayer dollars for gender-neutral pronouns, despite the fact that no one knows how much a pronoun actually costs."

"Burchfield observes that the construction is ‘passing unnoticed’ by speakers of standard English as well as by copy editors, and he concludes that this trend is ‘irreversible’. People who want to be inclusive, or respectful of other people’s preferences, use singular they. And people who don’t want to be inclusive, or who don’t respect other people’s pronoun choices, use singular they as well. Even people who object to singular they as a grammatical error use it themselves when they’re not looking, a sure sign that anyone who objects to singular theyis, if not a fool or an idiot, at least hopelessly out of date."

Personally, I think that anyone who gets upset over the use of singular they is being linguistically obtuse and anyone who  explicitly avoids ever using he or she in favor of always using they is beyond ridiculous. That's not how language works.

 

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1 minute ago, maize said:

Personally, I think that anyone who gets upset over the use of singular they is being linguistically obtuse

Oh, there was a huge kerfuffle in a lovely little magazine that I had considered submitting to and that would have been a fabulous fit for my work. Alas, the editor got into a fight with an author whose pronouns were "they/them" and who had written their author bio in this way. The editor argued that this is incorrect, suggested "s/he", suggested including [sic] and got quite irritated with the author who repeatedly and patiently explained their pronoun (and finally, exasperated, posted the whole exchange on twitter). Was a major sh*tstorm, and that mag is forever tainted.

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38 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Most people I encounter use gender specific pronouns most of the time.

I try to be mindful of not making assumptions about a person's gender, but admit that it is difficult to unlearn decade long habits. I try hard to use gender neutral pronouns for non-binary people, but despite my best efforts find that I make mistakes and use the wrong pronoun. I find it very difficult because I may think and feel of a certain person as a woman in my mind - they are AFAB and present female - and it is still always a conscious effort to talk about them using the gender neutral pronoun. Working on it. 

I wish we could evolve towards gender not being use for sorting all.the.time for every ridiculous situation. Certain airlines recently boasted that they now have a third option for the gender on airline tickets - and I think what the heck does gender have to do with airline travel in the first place? Why can't we leave it off altogether?

Re: the bit I bolded--I think this would require actual organic evolution, and I doubt there is a natural selection driver for it. Quite the contrary, I am confident that being able to quickly differentiate and categorize other humans as male or female has been quite beneficial to our survival as a species. I imagine it is a pretty deeply hard wired function of our brains.

We can certainly change some cultural and linguistic stuff, but I don't think humans are ever going to find it easy to not think in male and female categories regardless of which pronouns we use or don't use.

 

Edited by maize
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8 minutes ago, maize said:

Re: the bit I bolded--I think this would require actual organic evolution, and I doubt there is a natural selection driver for it. Quite the contrary, I am confident that being able to quickly differentiate and categorize other humans as male or female has been quite beneficial to our survival as a species. I imagine it is a pretty deeply hard wired function of our brains.

We can certainly change some cultural and linguistic stuff, but I don't think humans are ever going to find it easy to not think in male and female categories regardless of which pronouns we use or don't use.

That's an interesting question. I tend to think the distinction becomes less and less important the more rights and opportunities equalize - eventually, it may only matter when you're considering entering a relationship to mate.  For other interactions in life, it need not be relevant.

And, being endowed with reason, we might make a conscious effort to move towards a less aggressively gendered society.

Edited by regentrude
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I use gender specific personal pronouns for those who embrace them.

I have a friend’s daughter who prefers “they”. I find that easier to use than ze or zir, just because it’s more familiar to me, but I am happy to use whatever pronoun a person prefers.

DS’s college application asked complicated questions about gender and pronoun preferences. I know a fair number of people who are non-binary. I know many fewer who are transgender.

 

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24 minutes ago, maize said:

Language changes, and they as a gender neutral first person singular has actually been around in English for quite awhile.

Does using "you" as second person singular confuse you even though it originated as a second person plural and still fills that role? Would you be less confused if we all went back to thou for the singular?

I'm confident most speakers of English can navigate a singular they as a pronoun option.

My friends from India believed "you" was always singular and "youall" was the appropriate plural.  It took some convincing to change that.

But no, I don't generally have a problem using "you" the way I've used it all my life.  Sometimes I may ask who the person means by "you."

Maybe the language can change, but it would be very awkward in the short run (meaning for our whole lives, because such a big change would take a long time to get established).  And I am not convinced it is necessary.  I could get on board with calling a particular individual "they" if asked to do so, but not calling every individual "they."  I don't think it's wrong to bring gender into speech per se.  For all we know, it serves an important function that we've taken for granted all these generations.  I can't think of any societies that completely avoid gender related speech; in fact, English is one of the less gender-based languages I know of.

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I know a few people who prefer “thou” when being addressed rather than “you”— and it does add to my confusion.   (Not if it’s a whole Friend’s meeting house embracing “thee” — but yes if I’m trying to recall many people’s preferences without a context cue like that.  )

And for one  particular person I know often spoken of as they/them by another person I know, it has taken me a few years to understand that “we’ll meet them later” or “could you give them a ride to town” isn’t referring to more than one person. 

Edited by Pen
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I use what the person wants me to use because it's the respectful thing to do. Most of the people I know or come in regular contact with use gender specific pronouns. Ds has a good friend who prefers they. Sometimes I slip and say she out of habit but for the most part I use they/them because that's their preference. It's not rocket science but it is good manners.

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1 minute ago, SKL said:

My friends from India believed "you" was always singular and "youall" was the appropriate plural.  It took some convincing to change that.

But no, I don't generally have a problem using "you" the way I've used it all my life.  Sometimes I may ask who the person means by "you."

Maybe the language can change, but it would be very awkward in the short run (meaning for our whole lives, because such a big change would take a long time to get established).  And I am not convinced it is necessary.  I could get on board with calling a particular individual "they" if asked to do so, but not calling every individual "they."  I don't think it's wrong to bring gender into speech per se.  For all we know, it serves an important function that we've taken for granted all these generations.  I can't think of any societies that completely avoid gender related speech; in fact, English is one of the less gender-based languages I know of.

Gendered third person pronouns are definitely not a fundamental requirement of human language, ask any speaker of Chinese and they will let you know they get by just fine using non gendered ta for everyone.

Language change though generally happens organically not intentionally, especially for core components like personal pronouns so I am confident he and she aren't disappearing anytime soon.

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Yes, there are still gender specific pronouns in my world. I don't know anyone irl who prefers to be referred to otherwise. I've never met anyone who prefers otherwise, or probably more accurately, never interacted with anyone who corrected me. I've never heard of referring to someone as "they" except on this board. If someone did correct me, I would make an effort to remember to refer to them the way they prefer. 

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12 minutes ago, SKL said:

My friends from India believed "you" was always singular and "youall" was the appropriate plural.  It took some convincing to change that.

But no, I don't generally have a problem using "you" the way I've used it all my life.  Sometimes I may ask who the person means by "you."

Maybe the language can change, but it would be very awkward in the short run (meaning for our whole lives, because such a big change would take a long time to get established).  And I am not convinced it is necessary.  I could get on board with calling a particular individual "they" if asked to do so, but not calling every individual "they."  I don't think it's wrong to bring gender into speech per se.  For all we know, it serves an important function that we've taken for granted all these generations.  I can't think of any societies that completely avoid gender related speech; in fact, English is one of the less gender-based languages I know of.

OK, maybe I am stupid and misunderstanding, but no one calls people "they" just as no one calls anyone "he" or "she."  (or her/him)  You would only use "they" if referring to that person.  But if you were in conversation you could just use their name, right?

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7 minutes ago, Jentrovert said:

Yes, there are still gender specific pronouns in my world. I don't know anyone irl who prefers to be referred to otherwise. I've never met anyone who prefers otherwise, or probably more accurately, never interacted with anyone who corrected me. I've never heard of referring to someone as "they" except on this board. If someone did correct me, I would make an effort to remember to refer to them the way they prefer. 

I think the barrier to correcting somebody is quite high. Most of the nb's I know would let it slide.Also, we are talking the pronouns you use when referring to the person (which is often when they are not present). The issue only comes up when you talk about someone, not to them. 

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7 minutes ago, marbel said:

OK, maybe I am stupid and misunderstanding, but no one calls people "they" just as no one calls anyone "he" or "she."  (or her/him)  You would only use "they" if referring to that person.  But if you were in conversation you could just use their name, right?

That person might be present when I'm referring to "them."  For example,

Charlie here needs a ride to the game.  Can anyone drive them?

Edited by SKL
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After reading about it here, I realized that I do use pronouns and talk about someone, in their presence, fairly frequently. It's because my young kids haven't yet mastered the art of waiting until we're alone to ask questions about someone/what they're doing/why they're doing it. They don't (usually) ask anything rude. Usually I'm explaining what someone is doing in their job, etc.

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46 minutes ago, maize said:

 linguistically obtuse 

What a wonderful phrase 😎

5 minutes ago, SKL said:

That person might be present when I'm referring to "them."  For example,

Charlie here needs a ride to the game.  Can anyone drive them?

Can anyone give Charlie a ride to the game? if one is opposed to "they" in the singular. I think that or something similar would be a more natural phrasing anyway. 

To the original question, specific pronouns still exist in my world but "they" in the singular is extremely common. I wouldn't bat an eye at the OP's example and I am 53. 

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2 hours ago, StellaM said:

Yes, the English language, for better or for worse, still contains sex-referent pronouns, and 99% of people are still using them, including me. 

Non-binary 'they/them' seems confined to campus in my (liberal) part of town. 

I personally use the singular 'they' when I am not sure if the person I am talking about (because hey, we don't use pronouns to the person they 'belong' to!) if the person is male or female. For example, someone I had only dealt with via email, have never seen, who does not use Ms/Mrs/Mr and who has a gender neutral name. 

Does this person you work with ask clients how they would prefer to be spoken about in their absence ? Shouldn't they (ha!) be thinking about the client, not about their own ideological preferences ?

 

Not sure if she asks clients. Never occurred to me to find out.

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3 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Is the person doing it as a confidentiality thing maybe? I know in pharma studies we just used "Patient" and never names on forms. Or maybe they use a template for their reports and that is less to have to worry about changing? 

 

No, the full name and other identifying information is elsewhere on the report. Nobody but people in the office, potentially law enforcement / the court system sees these reports

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3 minutes ago, katilac said:

Can anyone give Charlie a ride to the game? if one is opposed to "they" in the singular. I think that or something similar would be a more natural phrasing anyway.

My point is that there are plenty of times when we use singular third-person pronouns in the hearing of the person we are speaking about.

I agree that in a situation where the pronoun might be awkward, it may help to re-word the sentence to avoid the pronoun all together.  But sometimes that may be just as awkward.

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4 minutes ago, SKL said:

My point is that there are plenty of times when we use singular third-person pronouns in the hearing of the person we are speaking about.

I really don't think there is, though. Your example sounds awkward to me because that's likely not the way you would speak if the kid was right there. 

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4 minutes ago, katilac said:

I really don't think there is, though. Your example sounds awkward to me because that's likely not the way you would speak if the kid was right there. 

Sure I would.

Any time more than 2 people are in the same room, this can happen.

"Your sister might like some, did you offer it to her?"

"Your sister can't carry that by herself - please help her."

"This gift is for grandpa - please carry it to him."

 "The aunties are ready to go - don't make them wait for you."

"Your brother is talking; don't interrupt him."

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2 hours ago, bolt. said:

We use a lot of "the student" and "their" in formal staff discussions about students at my workplace (a Bible College).

We find that this helps when we are trying to communicate about a situation without revealing who the student is -- the student body is small, and it's often quite easy to guess who the 'confidential' student in question is just by the story being discussed. There's no need to narrow down the guessing field by half by revealing which gender the student is.

We also find that it helps keep gender bias out of administrative or academic decisions. For example if "the student" was rude in class, 'she' shouldn't get a pass because 'of the stereotype that girls can be emotional or easily overwhelmed; if "the student" is habitually late with assignments 'he' shouldn't get more slack because of the stereotype that boys struggle with formal academics. If emotions are an excuse for rudeness, young men deserve that freedom too. If academic difficulty is an excuse for tardy assignments, we should be equally gracious to young women. Not knowing which one we are talking about (or knowing, but being in the habit of talking about students without specifying) can help keep the playing field level.

 

This makes sense to me because when we discuss a client and need to preserve confidentiality, we also just say "A client who..." I suppose instead of pronouns I do use the more awkward "this person" if I don't want the other person to know the gender. We, however, have so many clients that she/he would not identify any one person in particular unless there are some very unique identifying markers.

2 hours ago, regentrude said:

Third, I hope we are moving in a direction where gender isn't used as the prevalent characteristic for sorting people into categories in situations where it is irrelevant.

 

These reports are legal documents. I don't feel we are "sorting" people in that sense unless I am misunderstanding. The full name is on the report but some names don't identify gender, and the pronoun of "they / their" would not identify them either.  And I don't know if the courts care one way or another. I just meant I am old enough that it feels awkward to me grammatically since I was always taught she/her, he/his, it/its, they/theirs.

1 hour ago, maize said:

Personally, I think that anyone who gets upset over the use of singular they is being linguistically obtuse and anyone who  explicitly avoids ever using he or she in favor of always using they is beyond ridiculous. That's not how language works.

 

 

I don't think all the clients she evaluates are non-binary. I could see it if only some of her reports contain "they/their" as pronoun but it is in all the reports. We are talking a lot of people over time and it is highly unlikely that everyone requested it. I simply think she is avoiding potential issues and perhaps this shows a lot of foresight on her part. For my part, I am not used to it yet and I trip over it while reading, alas entirely my problem.

Edited by Liz CA
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4 minutes ago, kdsuomi said:

Yes and no. We are a nationwide company, but most of our employees are here in CA, so that does add something to it. "They" as a singular pronoun drives me insane, and I wish that instead of co-opting a word that already has a meaning people would have made up a new word or something. 

"they" has had the meaning of a singular pronoun for centuries. That's not "co-opting".   

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24 minutes ago, kdsuomi said:

Yes and no. We are a nationwide company, but most of our employees are here in CA, so that does add something to it. "They" as a singular pronoun drives me insane, and I wish that instead of co-opting a word that already has a meaning people would have made up a new word or something. Pronouns, and preferred names, have caused all kinds of headaches for us in HR, though, and many systems changes that have changed across the country for the wants of one or two people. 

 

Maybe I would not trip over it if there was a new gender neutral pronoun. I think you may have hit on something here. When one's brain has been trained a certain way for a long time, it's just more difficult to shift gears, especially if the word already had a mostly plural designation in the recent past.

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2 hours ago, regentrude said:

"one" is not a pronoun.  "that person" gets clumsy really fast. "That person handed in that person's report to that person's teacher"? Good grief!

 

Yes it is, although it does not at all mean the same thing as singular they. It's pretty archaic in my dialect - typically, it fills in where in more colloquial usage we use the word "you", as in:

"One mustn't complain" instead of "You can't complain" or "One must raise ones hand to go to the bathroom" instead of "You must raise your hand to go to the bathroom" and so on.

Singular they has been in use for indefinite persons for hundreds and hundreds of years, including by authors such as Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and yes, E. B. White (including in his ridiculous style guide). Use for specific persons who prefer not to use he or she is more recent, but honestly, what can one do but be polite?

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36 minutes ago, kdsuomi said:

Yes and no. We are a nationwide company, but most of our employees are here in CA, so that does add something to it. "They" as a singular pronoun drives me insane, and I wish that instead of co-opting a word that already has a meaning people would have made up a new word or something. Pronouns, and preferred names, have caused all kinds of headaches for us in HR, though, and many systems changes that have changed across the country for the wants of one or two people. 

 

My mother has a hard time using her real name in computer systems because it has a hyphen. Those systems should be changed even if very few people in the USA have names with hyphens. My brother-in-law has a hard time using his chosen name because they ask for the full first name and middle initial, he uses his full middle name and first initial. Those systems should be changed even if very few people do not do it this way.

I could go on.

Moving past names, how about accessibility? If you don't build with disabled people in mind, you're going to have to change your system once the ADA catches up to you. Does this mean that disabled people shouldn't keep asking for ramps just because only one or two of them might exist in any given area?

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Yes, everyone I know uses gendered pronouns constantly.  (DH and I are both academics, BTW, as are many of our friends.)  I do see that students occasionally put their preferred pronouns -- which are nearly always gendered --  in their email signatures.

In my writing, I usually use female pronouns to refer to a generic person, because I am a woman.  

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