1. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    The Use of It versus He/She

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Cacian, Dec 1, 2011.

    How do you refer to objects cars and robots say in a story?

    I drove my car to the garage.
    It is a fairly new car
    or she is fairly new?

    then in the dialogues:

    This is lovely car, what is its name?
    or
    what is her name?

    it is called mickey mouse or
    she is called mickey mouse?
    Then
    I have been the latest robot show and I was impressed.
    One was made to wave its/His arms and walk.
    It/He is a fast robot. It/He does all sorts of stunts.

    The question which would you use?
     
  2. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'd reserve "it" for all objects. "He/she" is for people. I know some boats and such are referred to as "she," but that's a special case. Robots that portray gender-specific qualities might be a gray area, and you could get away with "he/she." Anthropomorphic animals are definitely hes or shes, so Mickey Mouse is definitely a "he."
     
  3. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    That depends on how you feel about your car. If it's merely a machine, with no personified traits, your car (and every other faceless car on the road) would be an 'it.' If you adore, cherish, or just plain love it, you could refer to it as "he" or "she," depending on what gender you feel it possesses. I refer to my car as a she, but that's because I've invested dozens of man hours into it and feel a certain attachment to it; it is like a member of the family to me. However, other members of my household do not feel the same way, and don't hesitate to refer to my car as an 'it.' And they would not be incorrect to do so.

    The same line of reasoning applies to boats, aircraft, spacecraft, etc, especially large, named vessels. The Titanic, the USS Enterprise, The Millenium Falcon... they're all 'she.' "She struck an iceberg and sank." "She boldly goes where no man has gone before." "She can do the Kessel Run in five parsecs." ;)


    As for robots, that's a gray area, as the above poster said. I've two 'female' machines in my current WIP. One's a highly-advanced AI and the other an android. Both look and sound female. As such, both are referred to as 'she'... most of the time. There are a few moments where my MC lapses into calling them 'it,' particularly the moments where they start to seem less like people and more like machines. It's really a matter of what effect you are going for. Do you want them to seem like machines or like people?


    As for animals, they have clear gender and are almost never referred to as 'it.' The only exceptions I can think of would be dead animals. A roasted duck on the dinner table is pretty much beyond the 'he' or 'she' stage. Although, in this example, it's mostly a matter of being unable to distinguish. When I see a wild dog and can't distinguish if it's male or female, I often refer to it as 'it' (or just 'dog') until I know for sure.
     
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  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    lostinewbspace:

    Anthropomorphic animals is a new word for me. Thank you for bringing up for I have learned something new today.
    I agree about the Mickey Mouse.


    AnonyMouse
    Thank you for such an elaborate and detailed explanation.
    It makes sense.
    I think I have now decided to refer to the car as the car, and I will try and avoid perhaps using either it or she because I can't make my mind up.
    About the robot, I think again I will do the same refer to it by its name.
    I want them to seem excatly what they are as machines.
    I am not very good at sticking with one or the other because I know they are there if you see what I mean.
     
  5. Devrokon
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    Devrokon Senior Member

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    I'd agree completely with what lostinwebspace said, but I feel that, at times, in order to add character or a certain fluidity with an object, you can refer to it either by he or she.

    For example, as I'm sure you're aware of, most boats have female names. Also, if one has a motorbike maybe it would be natural to identify it by gender. Cars can go either ways a well, if I'm correct.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  6. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    This is what I'd have said, well maybe I wouldn't have thought of the dead duck part but I agree with it. :)
     

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