1. pennib
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    pennib New Member

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    Gender Neutral

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by pennib, Jan 5, 2011.

    Hi
    This may seem a strange way of approaching a new thread on this subject, but what the heck!

    Gender Neutral

    As versatile as English appears to be,
    There is a gaping hole obvious to me,
    We are missing a word that fits so far,
    He or she in the third person singular,

    A word gender neutral is what we need,
    And on that subject I am here to plead,
    Third person plural They has had to do,
    Yet not really enough for me and you,

    Then confusing as it is in this modern age,
    How to judge a sex without causing rage,
    So what new word can we perhaps create,
    To reflect a gender in all its various state,

    Some US academics have made the claim,
    The use of Yo. Now that would be a shame,
    For when one is calling out to either sex,
    I find HOY! You, is what most of us expects.

    For referring to ’that person’ without sex,
    As the ‘third person singular’ in context,
    I have given this task my deepest thought,
    This is my short list, upon which to report,

    There is, ar, es, em, herm, han, even thon,
    Investigations of which I can say more on,
    But a word not to offend and put to the test,
    Ere, pronounced ‘air’, is probably my best.


    Someone has left ere hat.
    Ere who laughs last laughs longest.
    Any thoughts!
     
  2. sonofjoe
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    sonofjoe New Member

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    shim :confused:
     
  3. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    I find it endlessly amusing that we're discussing this whole idea of "gender neutrality" when many languages have, for countless years, had the whole idea of gender built right into their language structure. All the way down to certain nouns that are feminine and others that are masculine. (Really, what makes a table any more feminine than, say, a pencil?)

    Imagine if the speakers of the romance languages all across the globe suddenly decided to opt for gender neutrality! Befuddled students would rejoice, no doubt, but otherwise it would serve no purpose whatsoever.

    That said, if you want to avoid gender specific pronouns, it's as easy as switching up your sentence structure just a little, or even knowing what word is considered acceptable to use: "Someone has left their hat", "Those who laugh last laugh longest", etc...
     
  4. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    "They" is the least clumsy sounding, and the one I use in formal writing. Though it absolutely can create confusion, being plural. The usage in English, though, has made it the gender neutral go-to pronoun though.

    For nformal writing, I much prefer "s/he". Though it look awkward, it flows fine and stays singular.

    -Frank
     
  5. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I do know that in formal writing when you are referring to someone whose gender is a mystery, you refer to them as he, regardless if they are actually a he or not. If there is ever a question whether or not the person is a he or she, they are referred to as he. I'll see if I can't find this specific rule so I can cite it on here.

    However, you are asking about keeping the gender neutrality and not establishing a gender, which is something else altogether. There are several words "one" could use to keep gender neutrality, depending on context.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Apparently the Feminists haven't found your part of the world yet, then...you'd get slammed for doing that in most Humanities papers, and rightly so...
     
  7. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    Not according to any teacher or professor of English that I've ever encountered, who tend to recommend avoiding the need to use he or she or he/she or any other conceivable combination of the two entirely. Especially in formal writing.

    From the Oxford American Dictionary:

    On They:
    On He:
     
  8. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    What should one do in a situation like this?
    'Excuse one a moment while one ponders'
    Maybe it would be a good idea for one to look in one's thesaurus, one may find the answer to one's question there?
    One could ask What What What, what, What What What thinks.
    It is up to one how one solves one's problem.;)

    Being serious,

    I don't know the answer to your question. The only neutral word I can think of is 'it' totally unsuitable. Maybe we should invent a new neutral gender word. Any Idea's?
     
  9. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    My current writing takes place in old times and people blatantly say "he", "mankind" or "every man". It may be sexist, but it would seem rediculous in the context if feministic sensibilities were taken into account prior to their invention.

    Why am I saying this?

    Because it might help to use what is appropriate for what you're writing and not limit yourself to one solution for all that you write. "They" or "one" too have contexts where they fit or not.
     
  10. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Non-gender specific English is becoming ever more narrow.
    Actress etc. is now obsolete.
    Feminist sensitivities do not help our language.
    Example.
    "I am looking for an actor."
    "Male or female?"
    "Female."

    When once upon a time clarity reigned. "I am looking for an actress."
     
  11. D.T.Roberts
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    D.T.Roberts Senior Member

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    I found it very challenging to remain gender neutral in the opening scene of my WIP. I'm still not sure how well it reads. How do you discribe the actions of a person without using He or She?
     
  12. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Hmm, seems I was mistaken, well not entirely so. I meant journalism, not formal writing, but I believe the same applies. It's not considered wrong, but it is becoming less and less popular. The MLA stylebook does not have a listing for "gender" and I do not have my copy of the AP stylebook on hand. However, The Chicago Manual of Style does have several listings, and unfortunately, I lacked the time to cite them all.

    Citing the following from The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition:

     
  13. twopounder
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    twopounder Member

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    If more people were gamers, it wouldn't be an issue.

    Mankind: woMAN = counts as a man. huMAN = Counts as a man.

    He: sHE, tHEy, tHEm, tHEir, tHEy're

    If only people looked at the big picture instead of nitpicking a sequence of letters :rolleyes:

    As some trivia, Wizards of the Coast released Dungeon and Dragons manuals, and Magic the Gathering rules that were exclusively feminine. Everything said She and Her. During Magic the Gathering's Ice Age cycle, the form was alternated every other paragraph.

     
  14. twopounder
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    twopounder Member

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    They, them, their, human, person, adjectives, title, position etc

    They were sitting on the bench
    A person was sitting on the bench
    A member of the human race was sitting on the bench
    A lieutenant colonel of the marines was sitting on the bench
    An ugly bum was sitting on the bench
     
  15. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    My second language--Turkish--is totally gender neutral. He/she/it is all just...'it'. My mother thought it very funny when my youngest daughter innocently referred to God as 'She' when she spoke English. You ask how ambiguity is avoided in sentences like, "She was sitting." Well, the whole sentence is only one word in Turkish: "Oturuyordu." If it's essential to specify gender we say "The girl/woman was sitting." However, this is still not very lengthy as there are no articles in Turkish, making it only 2 words: "Kız/Kadın oturuyordu."

    The reason for the above is because I think it's good to consider how necessary it is to be gender specific. In academic writing it is possible to write a perfectly clear paper without using any personal pronouns. I frequently do, even for more informal writing, e.g. I don't say "Before a student chooses a college, he or she needs to do his or her research carefully", I say "Before choosing a college, a student should do careful research", or some such thing.

    However, I'm a little puzzled as to why, in the opening scene of a novel, a writer would try to be gender neutral. Surely, here is one time when one utilises the conventions of the language to make this point clear for the reader. As I've said, even in gender-neutral Turkish there are established ways of doing this so it doesn't get confusing.

    As to the actress example, well, the reason the word 'actress' has gone is because there are negative connotations with that word and I for one don't lament its fall from favour. You might just as well say, you can't have, "I'm looking for an actor" because it will elicit the respose, "Which actor?" I kind of miss 'fireman', but I do wish they'd find one gender-free term for 'businessman/woman'.
     
  16. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    No need for three lots of dialogue 'I am looking for a female actor' will suffice.

    I am pleased the 'ess' has been dropped from authoress. I prefer author the added 'ess' make it sound secondary.
     
  17. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    I think he (D.T. Roberts) missed the [/sarcasm] tags... At least, that's how I read it.
     
  18. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Trilby, we have a word for a female actor it is actress. Why use two words when one will do?
    Females are not secondary, therefore, words which represent woman are not secondary.
    It is all in the mind.
     
  19. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    An actor acts
    an author writes
    I do not see the need for a gender tag

    We don't say doctoress, teacheress, or lecturess.

    A doctor is a doctor - a teacher is a teacher - an actor is an actor - an author is an author.

    We say female or male - doctor, teacher, nurse, lecturer etc.

    I am not saying that females are secondary - I am saying that by adding little tags on the end of the words it makes the word sound secondary.
     
  20. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    In more modern times, the first British female doctor practised 150 years ago. She pretended to be male for the whole of her career. I think it is a shame she was not able to admit to being a doctress'.
     
  21. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    She obviously pretended to be a male because she would not have been able to practice otherwise.

    There were no such thing as female doctors it was not allowed. The same thing can be said of nurses, there were no male nurses, nursing was seen as a woman's work. so isn't it better that we do not have gender tags? we don't need them. A nurse is a nurse and a doctor is a doctor.

    I still say that imo by adding gender tags on the end of words it makes the word sound inferior to their shorter bolder version, and probably that was the original intention.
     
  22. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Absolutely. Unnecessary to have 2 names for one job when it's exactly the same, whether done by a man or women. If you feel the need to show gender in a job label, then you are trying to make a distinction which shouldn't exist anyway.
     
  23. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bravo! may common sense prevail.
     
  24. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chairman - vice chairman. or chairperson, whichever you prefer?
    Editor - subeditor. etc.

    Tags, not always, usually denote a lower rank.

    Inspector - chief inspector, in this case the positive word chief denotes seniority.
     
  25. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Distinctions should exist. There are times when I want to see a doctress and nothing but. Nature made men and women the same but different. Leave androgyny to science fiction writers.
     

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