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They pronouns

Discussion in 'Gender Identity and Expression' started by Invidia, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. Chip

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    Because the two are mutually exclusive. I absolutely respect if someone doesn't want to use him/her. I have a grammar issue with the use of the plural pronoun "they" to refer to a singular person. As I said above, it is confusing. And that's why, in my own communications, I avoid using plural pronouns in the singular, choosing instead to find another way to phrase the speech that is more precise.

    If people want to use "they" in a way that intentionally confuses a language construct that's been around for hundreds of years, then of course I can't stop them from doing that, but it is not something that helps improve clarity of communications in language.

    What needs to happen is a better gender-neutral pronoun needs to be agreed upon. I would have much rather seen Oxford do that than condone the improper use of a plural pronoun. But Oxford's role is not as an arbiter of language; they simply report on current usage, for better or worse. And I guess there's no consensus on an alternate gender-neutral pronoun enough that Oxford has recognized one yet. But in the case of 'they', IMHO, it's for the worse at least as far as clarity of communication is concerned.

    Yup, I agree 100%. If you don't want to hang around those people, then don't.

    My intent isn't to invalidate. As I said, there are (for me, at least) workarounds that don't use sex-attached pronouns that still preserve the clarity of language, and that's the choice I make in an attempt to preserve clarity of communication. You're welcome to choose what works for you. And honestly, I wouldn't choose to not talk to you because you and I disagree on of plural pronouns... nor do I know anyone who would flatly refuse to talk to someone for that reason... so I think your concerns are probably overblown.

    If you are offended or feel invalidated because I choose clarity of language over your choice to use what I see as a plural pronoun... I'll again say that it isn't my intent. But beyond that, I could equally argue that you are invalidating my desire, as someone who cares deeply about language and clear communication, to not encourage what I perceive to be a misuse of a plural pronoun.


    It doesn't. It's my opinion.
     
  2. Eveline

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    Seriously, singular "they" has been in use for 500 years. I grew up using "they" in singular form and have never used "he" to refer to someone whose gender I don't know. I was actually surprised to learn that anyone uses "he" in such a way. This argument is pretty much the same as arguing about what's correct: color or colour. The answer is that both are correct because some people use one spelling and others another. In a similar way, some people use singular "they" others use "he".
     
    #22 Eveline, Jul 8, 2016
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  3. Invidia

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    Yes, I know that instead of any gender neutral pronoun, 'he' is often used. I think 'he' is used more often than 'they', yes. But still, I see 'they' all the time, and I'm not even a native English speaker, so I'm quite surprised that you do not... :/

    I'm not sure... it's difficult for me to understand why you seem not to have come in contact with this usage of 'they' as a singular neutral pronoun.
    It seems like it can be a bit of a generational thing thing, yes. People of higher age have a harder time accepting what they perceive as new (although, see Eveline's post above - 'they' is not new - however, e.g. 'xe' is). This is true for a vast majority of people. Even if it's difficult, why not try, maybe? You might render someone else a service.
     
    #23 Invidia, Jul 8, 2016
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  4. Secrets5

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    If you want to skip my ramble, go to the last paragraph (*)


    Would you like me to tell you that you can use ''he'' or ''she'' pronouns so I don't invalidate your desires? Even though that would make me dysphoric. Thanks [sarcastically].

    I mean, you as a representative of traditional grammar [because grammar can change] - would you like to tell me which singular pronouns you would like to call me, when ''he'' and ''she'' is *not* an option, where pronouns are used [so not names]. [seriously, as opposed to my previous paragraph which I wrote quite angrily, I think I'm trying to talk here, in a way that can satisfy both, so just give me something - just not ''he'' or ''she'' I already deal with that in ''closeted'' real life and I want it to stop].

    I mean, what is it about the way you are writing that in a way I have to allow you your wishes which overal in this situation when I think invalidating mere desires is less than invalidating identity. You can still use all your clear grammar in every day life, sorry if I've suggested you to ''let go'' of all of your grammar, so I'll say it now you can use clear grammar elsewhere, but what is so hard about using ''they'' as a singular identity for a person that you cannot understand you already answered this, sorry, I forgot because I was focusing on the one paragraph above so forgot about the words in the first bit of reply, but I'll leave it in. [I'm still using ''they are...'' so saying ''they is'' is not an issue.] So what if it goes against what was previously done, non-binary identities weren't previously allowed to ''come out'' so there was no ability for discussion back then. It has to be done now. Things change. Gay marriage happened [2014 UK] - I bet that was hard for some people, but gay marriage doesn't invalidate a straight marriage even if they think it goes against their religious desires so anyway, I've drifted here and I could be comparing two different things [gay/straight and binary/they pronouns] but I wanted to show you how things change and how it doesn't really affect other people - other than that ''new'' things have entered life.

    So maybe I'll agree that Oxford has a tenancy to be ''rash''. [Nothing much more to say on this, other than I agree]

    How can you respect something you have an issue with?

    *My text is not worded well, and note when I put ''you'' I'm also talking about people with your opinions I might meet at uni. What I'm trying to tell you is that I want they [or xe pronouns] ... why should I have to work around anybody else? If ''you don't'' is the answer, then why do I have to work around you just so I don't invalidate your desires for ''clear communication''? When ''clear communication'' is decided by the group of people in the communication, so if we agree ''they as singular'' is clear - then it can be. What pronouns would you like to call me by (he/she is not an option)?
     
    #24 Secrets5, Jul 8, 2016
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  5. HappyGirlLucky

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    Even if we lived in a world where there were no non-binary people, I would still prefer "they" be used as singular in the absence of other gender neutral pronouns because I disagree with male pronouns being the default. There are more women than men in the English speaking world combined, so statistically we would have a better chance to get it right if we used "she" instead, therefore it really should be the default if we have to use one of the two.

    I live in a country where there are no gendered pronouns so perhaps that makes me slightly biased, but I see "they" used in place of "he" more often than not in modern English. When I come across male pronouns for a person of an unknown gender it is usually something written in the early 90s or earlier, or something written by an older man.

    I wanted to chime in here as I have a unique perspective from growing up with a language that exists almost entirely without gender. Finnish does just fine without any of that while causing no confusion whatsoever, so saying it is confusing is not a valid excuse. People will adapt - the younger generation already has - and just because adapting is not easy (changes never are) there is no reason to resist it when it can have a positive impact on many people. I don't think there are many women out there who prefer "he" over singular "they" so it's not just non-binary people, the old way was just generally sexist.
     
    #25 HappyGirlLucky, Jul 8, 2016
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  6. Irisviel

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    The 's following the noun phrase if you're using a verb in gerund form. It's my being a grammar nazi, not me being.
     
  7. andimon

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    Correct or not fully correct English at least has an option. Just think about the hundreds of languages that don't supply any sort of neutral gendered pronoun. As pointed above, I think it's really unfair to call a group made up of one billion women and a man "they (males)".
     
    #27 andimon, Jul 8, 2016
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  8. Secrets5

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    That's true, for men and women. But I am neither. It would be unfair to call me ''he'' or ''she'' when I'm not.
     
  9. Chip

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  10. Invidia

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    It couldn't be he or she if it were to be neutral though. It could be 'he' as a standard form, but it still wouldn't be neutral. Hmm, you say by most. By most... who? In academics? In common speech? In what? I'm not ready to take your word for it. Not that I really care either way.

    "Care about language"... language is an instrument, is it not? A tool, to aid communication. We forge it, at times organically with the passing of time, at other times artificially when certain groups or individuals choose to create new usages for language, or simply create new language.
    If language as such is something you see great value in, then good for you. But prioritizing it over the sensitivities of your fellow human beings, as I would suggest you are doing in this case - is that perhaps not going a bit far?
     
  11. Eveline

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    I have to admit that after spending some time reflecting upon what I said, I realised that I fell into the trap of memory manipulation. I was actually taught as a child to use "he" as the third person pronoun of choice. However, in time I got used to using "they" in its singular form and accordingly changed the linguistic associations in my mind and adapted my memories to accommodate this change. In many ways, this strengthens the notion that language is not static, when I asked my mother about it, she seemed uncomfortable with the notion that "they" can be used in such a way. However, the more we talked about it, the more she understood that there is a certain rationality about using "they" as a singular pronoun. What helped her change her perspective was to remember that as a child she was forced to abide by some grammar rules that are unintuitive and don't sound right. Language has a natural flow to it and I find that you can often sense if something is wrong and she couldn't accept those rules because it simply doesn't sound right and after hearing the example sentence ahe gave, I'm fairly sure that none of us abide by the rules that she learned.

    Singular "they" feels right to me and I don't agree with the notion that using it shows that I don't care about language. I am a writer and have spent most of my life studying literature. I truly love the English language and I feel extremely uncomfortable when I reread something that I wrote and it doesn't flow well or sound right to me. Singular "They" does sound right to me as it does for many others here and it really isn't such a big deal to learn to use it in its singular form considering how important it is for many non binary people and their wellbeing.

    (*hug*)
     
    #31 Eveline, Jul 8, 2016
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  12. GenderSciFi

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    Thank you.

    (*hug*)
     
  13. Invidia

    Invidia Guest

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    Btw, when we're talking about singular 'they' here, do we mean to say "they are" or "they is". I guess I usually say "they are".
     
  14. Secrets5

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    I ask for ''they are'', not sure about other people. I suppose if someone did say ''they is'' though I wouldn't stop them, since ''they'' is the key factor.
     
  15. Invidia

    Invidia Guest

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    Okay. (y)
     
  16. I AM MEOW

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    Although in school I was taught to use "he" for people of undescribed gender, no one around me actually spoke like that and I was never penalized in essays for using singular "they". It just doesn't feel right to refer to someone who isn't a man with "he". Same with "she". So with a lack of alternatives and the fact that I always slip up with the modernity invented neutral pronouns, "they" seems to be the only logical and grammatical option left.
     
  17. peterw78165

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    Even though "They is" would make all the English teachers I've ever had cringe, fuck them! They were boring teachers anyway. (Except the one I had sophomore year lol)
     
  18. Invidia

    Invidia Guest

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    Yeah, to use 'he' as a standard for everyone just feels sexist to me. :/