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EmeraldFields
04-02-09, 23:26
Let me explain the title a bit...

The English language originally referred to an unknown person or a group of people as men.

"Man walked the Earth for thousands of years."

"He who works the most gets the most rewards."

Many languages use grammatical gender. However, in today's English it has become common to use the "singular they" or "he/she".

"Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor; I hope they are friendly."

Technically it is grammatically incorrect to use they in a singular form. The Chicago Manual of Style says:

"On the one hand, it is unacceptable to a great many reasonable readers to use the generic masculine pronoun (he in reference to no one in particular). On the other hand, it is unacceptable to a great many readers either to resort to nontraditional gimmicks to avoid the generic masculine (by using he/she or s/he, for example) or to use they as a kind of singular pronoun. Either way, credibility is lost with some readers."

So do you think that gender neutrality in the English language is a good thing or does it destroy the language?

irjudd
04-02-09, 23:30
*thinks about it* Hmmm...

Sure why not.

laralover_07
04-02-09, 23:31
No, as it's not just English that does this. French has masculine and feminine words. So you would be neutering the whole world. It's one of those things you couldn't change anyway.

Quasimodo
04-02-09, 23:32
How about "E" as the neutral pronoun? :p
Or maybe Hershee ("He...er, she...","He or she")

irjudd
04-02-09, 23:33
I changed my mind. Leave it be.

Draco
04-02-09, 23:34
I uh...dont hear they used in the singular sense often...unless its from someone obviously not well educated.

Punaxe
04-02-09, 23:37
The solution I usually encounter, is to refer to men in one half of your sentences and to women in the other half. I can't imagine a serious amount of serious people seriously stressing so much over this that an artificial modification of the language is in order.

EmeraldFields
04-02-09, 23:38
I uh...dont hear they used in the singular sense often...unless its from someone obviously not well educated.

I hear it all the time!:p I use it too!

oocladableeblah
04-02-09, 23:38
So the Chicago Manual of Style is saying that you shouldn't use "they" in a singular term and that we should use he/she?
Let's just leave it as is, people are used it it I don't see anyone complaining.

Also we talk different than we write. We write a sentence one way, but then we may say it in a different way. Speaking is just more grammatically incorrect than writing is.

xRikux89
04-02-09, 23:38
I tend to use "they" when unaware of a person's gender, although I know it's not grammatically correct. I just think it's "less wrong" than running the risk of using a misgendered pronoun. Sort of like laws vs. ethics I guess. Also, as a native Finnish speaker, it sounds very polite too, as plurals can be used as a sort of honorific of a single person, although in Finnish, this occurs almost exclusively in the second person, not the third... Plus, English speakers wouldn't see it that way anyway.

The lack of a neuter singular third person pronoun is really the only issue I see, and it's not really that big. So I'd say no.

Tihocan9
04-02-09, 23:41
Let me explain the title a bit...

The English language originally referred to an unknown person or a group of people as men.

"Man walked the Earth for thousands of years."

"He who works the most gets the most rewards."

Many languages use grammatical gender. However, in today's English it has become common to use the "singular they" or "he/she".

"Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor; I hope they are friendly."

Technically it is grammatically incorrect to use they in a singular form. The Chicago Manual of Style says:

"On the one hand, it is unacceptable to a great many reasonable readers to use the generic masculine pronoun (he in reference to no one in particular). On the other hand, it is unacceptable to a great many readers either to resort to nontraditional gimmicks to avoid the generic masculine (by using he/she or s/he, for example) or to use they as a kind of singular pronoun. Either way, credibility is lost with some readers."

So do you think that gender neutrality in the English language is a good thing or does it destroy the language?

I personally have come to appreciate the fact that English is neutral in genders because while studing Spanish it just seemed odd that things had to be changed to agree with the noun if it was female or male, I am not criticizing the language I just think that English has no reason to go this direction. I also never understood objects having genders, but that isn't important I just think that it isn't necessary to change English at this point.


"Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor; I hope they are friendly."

I have never heard someone speak that way, is it common for people to use clashing nouns and pronouns that way?

digitizedboy
04-02-09, 23:57
I also never understood objects having genders.

Well I guess it's more "polite" to use a gender rather than calling someone or something an IT.

I myself use "they" in the singular on occasions, but it doesn't really matter to me because I'm common anyway. :D

Well...I'm no language expert. Although it is interesting to see the differences in most European languages and the way grammar is used. :)

Encore
04-02-09, 23:59
*thinks about it* Hmmm...

Sure why not.

I changed my mind. Leave it be.

hahahah :vlol:

Chocola teapot
04-02-09, 23:59
I think its fine the way it is and right now english is at its prime :)
give it 100 years and mandarin chinese will have probly made it obsolete.

Tihocan9
05-02-09, 00:02
Well I guess it's more "polite" to use a gender rather than calling someone or something an IT.


I can see how it can be impolite to refer to a person as an "it" but it is easy just to say he or she instead of it and use "they" if the gender is unknown which sounds more polite than it but I don't see how calling a chair an it is impolite but I understand that idea.

xRikux89
05-02-09, 00:13
Well I guess it's more "polite" to use a gender rather than calling someone or something an IT.

I myself use "they" in the singular on occasions, but it doesn't really matter to me because I'm common anyway. :D

Well...I'm no language expert. Although it is interesting to see the differences in most European languages and the way grammar is used. :)

It's funny though, as in Finnish, it is very much ok to use "it" or "they" for a person or people when speaking in third person. I practically never hear the word for "s/he", or it's plural which Finnish also has, in daily conversation.

give it 100 years and mandarin chinese will have probly made it obsolete.

Oh, if only I could live that long... I wouldn't complain! :cln: Mandarin is teh kewlzorz~

Ikas90
05-02-09, 00:20
No. English should be English. It can never be as cool as a European language, no matter what grammatical rules it adopts.

Sorry, but I just consider English an "uncool" language. :p

Tihocan9
05-02-09, 00:22
No. English should be English. It can never be as cool as a European language, no matter what grammatical rules it adopts.

Sorry, but I just consider English an "uncool" language. :p

English is a European language.

Encore
05-02-09, 00:24
It can never be as cool as a European language,

What the hell are you talking about?

irjudd
05-02-09, 00:26
What the hell are you talking about?
Klingon.

Ikas90
05-02-09, 00:31
English is a European language.

England doesn't even want to be part of Europe. What I really meant was it could never be like any other European language. English doesn't have all the grammatical rules that most other European languages share.

What the hell are you talking about?

I don't know what the hell you are talking about. :confused: I'm just shedding my opinion.

Encore
05-02-09, 00:34
What I really meant was it could never be like any other European language. .

If you had worded it like that from the beggining I would have no problems. You make it sound like the english language was invented 20 years ago to spite the continental europeans.

Quasimodo
05-02-09, 00:34
England doesn't even want to be part of Europe. What I really meant was it could never be like any other European language. English doesn't have all the grammatical rules that most other European languages share.



I don't know what the hell you are talking about. :confused: I'm just shedding my opinion.
English - England - located off the European peninsula, and therefore a European country with a European language. How is English not a European language?

Ikas90
05-02-09, 00:38
If you had worded it like that from the beggining I would have no problems. You make it sound like the english language was invented 20 years ago to spite the continental europeans.

My mistake. I apologise. Sometimes I forget to put words in due to my bad English (due to me being overseas for 9 months and forgetting it).

Carry on.

@Quasi: I mean that England doesn't like to consider itself part of Europe. From what I've heard anyway.

spikejones
05-02-09, 01:17
Now lets see here. which do you envision yourself SAYING when you do not know the gender of a person. (not what you would put in writing):

A) I have an appointment with my attorney at noon today. I hope he or she is good at what he or she does.

B) I have an appointment with my attorney at noon today. I hope they are good at what they do.

C) I have an appointment with my attorney at noon today. I hope it is good at its job.

?

takamotosan
05-02-09, 01:27
leave it be.

so i don't sound like even more of an idiot when i talk.

the hooliganz
05-02-09, 01:29
I always say he when I don't know the gender of the person, but I guess they is good too.

I just dont like it when girls tell me off, for saying he when I dont know the gender of the person I'm referring to.

nada
05-02-09, 01:30
The lack of a neuter singular third person pronoun is really the only issue I see, and it's not really that big. So I'd say no.

there are several gender neutral pronouns to choose from.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sie_and_hir#Summary

i usually use "zie" for she/he and "zir" for him/her/his/her

that's what i first heard in the neutrois section somewhere in a thread on laura's playground (a forum for transsexual/genderneutral people etc...). so i adopted it

oocladableeblah
05-02-09, 01:37
Now lets see here. which do you envision yourself SAYING when you do not know the gender of a person. (not what you would put in writing):

A) I have an appointment with my attorney at noon today. I hope he or she is good at what he or she does.

B) I have an appointment with my attorney at noon today. I hope they are good at what they do.

C) I have an appointment with my attorney at noon today. I hope it is good at its job.

?
B
A is just ridiculous and is too long to say. (that's how i would write it though)
C makes the person sound like a thing rather than a person.
Speaking is different than writing you don't say thing exactly grammatically correct.
I heard this on tv "Get your hands of a me" that is grammatically incorrect, but you know exactly what they (oops I just used they in a singular form :yik:) are saying and you don't correct them.

spikejones
05-02-09, 01:40
there are several gender neutral pronouns to choose from.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sie_and_hir#Summary

i usually use "zie" for she/he and "zir" for him/her/his/her

that's what i first heard in the neutrois section somewhere in a thread on laura's playground (a forum for transsexual/genderneutral people etc...). so i adopted it
im sorry, I didnt see those exact pronouns in that article:confused:
furthermore, a lot of those terms like you listed yourself are invented, non-traditional, and unofficial terms. Thus not an official part of the English language.

I swear I would drop kick my children into next weeks garfield comic if they came home talking like that. :vlol: Then I would do the same to their teacher :mis:

Ward Dragon
05-02-09, 01:40
B
A is just ridiculous and is too long to say. (that's how i would write it though)
C makes the person sound like a thing rather than a person.

I agree. I usually use "they" if I'm not sure of the person's gender, but not in formal writing of course.

nada
05-02-09, 01:44
im sorry, I didnt see those exact pronouns in that article:confused:
furthermore, a lot of those terms like you listed yourself are invented, non-traditional, and unofficial terms. Thus not an official part of the English language.

I swear I would drop kick my children into next weeks garfield comic if the came home talking like that. :vlol: The I would do the same to their teacher :mis:

they are listed as nr [7]
they were invented as a solution for the lack of such a words, not too long ago. the term neutrois (which describes the neutral genderclass) itself is only around 10 years old. so of course many people never heard of them yet. but to me it makes sense to use zie and zir anyway, even though i always need to tell people what those words mean :o

spikejones
05-02-09, 01:50
I heard this on tv "Get your hands of a me" that is grammatically incorrect, but you know exactly what they (oops I just used they in a singular form :yik:) are saying and you don't correct them.
I'm sorry. I'm lost there as I seem to want to read that as:

"Get your hands off o' me"

but the way you wrote it is clearly grammatically incorrect. However, from what I see there as I rewrote it, it is proper grammar. The "f" is simply dropped off of the end of "of" and pronounced with an "uh" sound due to accent.
I agree. I usually use "they" if I'm not sure of the person's gender, but not in formal writing of course.
agreed. I always speak of an unknown gendered person as "they". And I may get lax around the forums and use "they" as well. Although, I do recall writing a few posts using the word "one". I've also written out "he or she" as either of the following:

he/she
(s)he

oocladableeblah
05-02-09, 01:55
I'm sorry. I'm lost there as I seem to want to read that as:

"Get your hands off o' me"

but the way you wrote it is clearly grammatically incorrect. However, from what I see there as I rewrote it, it is proper grammar. The "f" is simply dropped off of the end of "of" and pronounced with an "uh" sound due to accent.

agreed. I always speak of an unknown gendered person as "they". And I may get lax around the forums and use "they" as well. Although, I do recall writing a few posts using the word "one". I've also written out "he or she" as either of the following:

he/she
(s)he

Well that was the point was it was supposed to be grammatically incorrect. And yeah it's an uh sound :p sometimes I pronounce A as uh so I wrote it that way.
Cause wouldn't the grammatically correct way be "off of" and not "off o' (uh)." You wouldn't write "off o' "

spikejones
05-02-09, 02:02
time to look at the clock.
oh guess what, it is 10 o'clock

o'clock obviously means "of the clock"
o' is an accepted abbreviation of the word "of"
in the case of o'clock however - the whole part "f the " has been dropped and an apostrophe has been inserted.

the O' also appears in Irish names meaning that you are a descendent of a certain family - or in other words you are "blahblah of blahblah"

which is similar to Spanish names which use the word "de" (of) in front of the surname. same concept - different country.

xRikux89
05-02-09, 02:07
there are several gender neutral pronouns to choose from.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sie_and_hir#Summary

i usually use "zie" for she/he and "zir" for him/her/his/her

that's what i first heard in the neutrois section somewhere in a thread on laura's playground (a forum for transsexual/genderneutral people etc...). so i adopted it

That was an interesting read (and not just the part about English). Thank you.

Hmm, I'll be more precise now. :p There doesn't appear to be a one-word pronoun that would be grammatically perfectly acceptable, and that is recognised by generally everyone. I will still be using "they". Now that I think of it, I do also use "one", when the sentence is of epic weight. :D

Then of course, Quina will always remain a s/he, no matter what. :)

oocladableeblah
05-02-09, 02:18
time to look at the clock.
oh guess what, it is 10 o'clock

o'clock obviously means "of the clock"
o' is an accepted abbreviation of the word "of"
in the case of o'clock however - the whole part "f the " has been dropped and an apostrophe has been inserted.

the O' also appears in Irish names meaning that you are a descendent of a certain family - or in other words you are "blahblah of blahblah"

which is similar to Spanish names which use the word "de" (of) in front of the surname. same concept - different country.
Well see it is different on "off of me" all you are replacing the F, your not replacing "f me" with an apostrophe. On the ten o' clock you are replacing "f the" and not on the F, so it is different.
It just seems writing "off o' me" is incorrect and that you would right it as "off of me." Double standard maybe idk I'm not a grammar expert I am just pretty sure if I wrote "off o' me" on a essay or something that I would get points taken off.

Tyrannosaurus
05-02-09, 02:24
I want this language to keep its balls.

MrBear
05-02-09, 07:39
I think English is working just fine.. In colloquial use, it's easy to say 'he - or she-' and in more formal circumstances I see many scholars make use of what Punaxe mentions, and there are no problems there either..

English is a European language.

Since people are comparing English to other languages, I find it a little misleading calling English a 'European' language instead of a Germanic one..

jamieoliver22
05-02-09, 07:50
Leave it be?

Neteru
05-02-09, 09:05
The use of 'they' in place of 'he or she' is a long established form. There is often an implied plurality in the singular. For example, in speaking of a doctor that could be male or female, there is an implied existence of both. There is also often an implication of speaking of one doctor as being representative of a body of people or institution of many. How often might one say 'I am running late for my appointment at the doctor's. I hope they don't mind' ? Similarly, in speaking of a person's action, there may be an implied action of many people as well as the one. A prime example would be 'When a person buys their home'. In this case 'a person' (singular) also has an implied 'people' (plural) because it could be any one person of many.

I uh...dont hear they used in the singular sense often...unless its from someone obviously not well educated.I guess Shakespeare was a real thicko then.

CerebralAssassin
05-02-09, 09:18
I just use he/she.:p

Spong
05-02-09, 09:48
Who cares how English is spoken on a word-by-word basis? So what if "they" is used improperly as a singular to reference unknown gender, as long as it gets the point across that's all that matters. English is a beautifully lazy language, who can be bothered to say "I hope he or she is friendly" when it's much easier to say "I hope they're friendly"?

jamieoliver22
05-02-09, 09:50
English is a beautifully lazy language

What would we do without apostrophes? :p

aileenwuornos
05-02-09, 10:04
I think English is working just fine.. In colloquial use, it's easy to say 'he - or she-' and in more formal circumstances I see many scholars make use of what Punaxe mentions, and there are no problems there either..



Since people are comparing English to other languages, I find it a little misleading calling English a 'European' language instead of a Germanic one..

Thank you.
I was going to post this, but you beat me to it!

Trigger_happy
05-02-09, 12:31
What would be the point in changing the language like that now? If any changes are going to happen, they'll be because of the internet and texting- not because the language is "sexist". Words like "addicting"- that's not even a really word is it?

Neteru
05-02-09, 12:33
Words like "addicting"- that's not even a really word is it?That's one word that bugs the hell out of me. I hate it.

Trigger_happy
05-02-09, 12:39
Using it in a sentence doesn't even make sense: how can a description be doing? I'm never furtiv-ing am I?

Mr.Burns
05-02-09, 12:47
It has an entry on both dictionary.com and the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (this one shows it only as a derivative over Addict). Knowing how complex the English language is, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a grammatically accepted reason for using "addicting".

Trigger_happy
05-02-09, 12:53
Just had a look on Wikipeda's dictionary and they say that its "non-standard" outside of the US. I thought so- I'd never ever heard of it here. Checked our Oxford concise (wow that's ironic- its huge) dictionary, and its not listed.

Spong
05-02-09, 12:57
...its "non-standard" outside of the US. I thought so- I'd never ever heard of it here.

I'd never heard of it either. And it sounds awful in my mind when I read it.

Mr.Burns
05-02-09, 12:58
Sounds like you could chalk it up as a regional dialect. I hear it all the time over here.

Pan
05-02-09, 13:01
I hear 'they' used quite often and I use it myself but I don't think it should be write into grammar books anytime soon, part of what make English unique is this sort of grammar irregularity.

And in response to an earlier comment, English can be a European language just as German and Polish can be, it's to do with the continent not the origins. It can't however be called either completely Germanic or Romantic because it's a hybrid.

jackles
05-02-09, 16:46
Tbh I don't think the average English person even thinks about it, I would consider the correct usage of english to be 'they' if I am talking about someone and I don't know the sex of them or if talking about a group.


We certainly never use 'he or she'.




I agree Pan...we use elements of many european languages and other classical influences.

toxicraider
05-02-09, 17:12
I use 'they', but nobody else seems to, that's what I learnt to use :confused:.


Uhuh
Oxford dictionary says

They;
3. Used to refer to a person whose sex is not specified

And that is the neuter :)
Of course you can't use 'it' like other languages, because english has a greater division between people and objects.
I'm pretty sure it could be considered non-PC to assume a gender, such as assuming a doctor is male, or a nurse is female.

spikejones
05-02-09, 17:27
What would we do without apostrophes? :p
sound like a lot of pompous bung holes who speak with only the most proper form of English in today's society (as well as turn possessive nouns into plural nouns).
It has an entry on both dictionary.com and the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (this one shows it only as a derivative over Addict). Knowing how complex the English language is, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a grammatically accepted reason for using "addicting".
You know... I have heart a lot of people say things along the lines of "this is very addicting". But to be honest with you, it is more accurate to say "this is very addictive". Although, Firefox spell checker accepts both words as real words that are spelled properly.