1. LittleMe
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    LittleMe New Member

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    Gender-neutral pronouns...

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by LittleMe, Apr 15, 2015.

    I have a character that is of indeterminate gender. Not a main protagonist, but an important player nevertheless. I generally refer to the individual by name, rather than using a gender specific nominative pronoun. However I tend to struggle in situations where I would instinctively use a gender specific possessive pronoun, especially when describing complex physical movement (dancing or boxing for example.) I find that using a plural pronoun as a singular, such as 'they' 'theirs' and 'them' to get past this problem to be a clumsy alternative to a singular pronoun - they just don't flow as well, like a bump in the road.

    So I'm toying with the idea of utilising either the Spanish gender neutral possessive 'su' or a made-up pronoun similar to the so-called Spivak pronouns ('e' 'em' and 'eir' ). But given that these terms are not true members of the English language, they too can at first jar the mind and eye, or at least until you are used to seeing them.

    I read a book recently (On The Steel Breeze by Alastair Reynolds) that used the terms 've' 'vis' and 'ver' when referring to a specific character, and I actually quite liked their use. But certain critics disdained their use, claiming that it detracted from the work.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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  3. LittleMe
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    LittleMe New Member

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    I've procrastinated about putting a post on here for months about this topic. It's typical that when I eventually do I mange to do so within a few hours of someone else... Ah well...
     
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  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    LOL :bigwink: Worry not. The Fates are ever vigilant and prone to trolling us. I am too often their plaything. :ohno::rofl:
     
  5. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I've been trying for years to get writers to use my strategy: male writers use 'his' when the sex of the character is ambiguous and women writers use 'hers'. Since there are roughly the same number of men as there are women, it'll all work out and we'll be able to avoid the clumsy (and wrong) 'their' (or the other silly made-up pronouns you mentioned) when the reference is in the singular.
     

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