Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Le Guin on "the English generic singular pronoun"

From:Barry Garcia <barry_garcia@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 26, 2002, 19:29
> "... Until the sixteenth century the English generic singular pronoun >was >they/them/their, as it still is in English and American colloquial >speech. It >should be restored to the written language, and let the pedants and >pundits >squeak and gibber in the streets." - Ursula Le Guin, from "Is Gender >Necessary? Redux" (1987 revision of a 1976 essay), _Dancing at the Edge of >the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places_
I like this. It's so ingrained colloquially that everyone I've asked about this said they feel strange saying he/she. In fact, on one of our direction sheets for graduating students (I work with the graduation evaluators at my university), they OKed me putting for example: "We have only the student's learning plan to work from and it is impossible for us to know if _they_ are no longer required to take a course or if _they_ are substituting a course unless _they_ inform us." (Each direction sheet is speaking to the Advisors as if it were for a single student instead of a group) Our descision to use "they" is because it feels far too "legalese" to use he/she. We take a more friendly approach to our directions and forms, despite being "ungrammatical" or "improper". __________________________ Communication is not just words, communication is...architecture because of course it is quite obvious that the house that would be built without that desire, that desire to communicate, would not look as your house does today.