English needs a new gender-neutral pronoun.
Saying 'he' or 'she' when talking generally about an unspecified person can be misinterpreted as meaning it only applies to one gender. 'It' is an insult when applied to a human being. 'They' is too confusing as it is also used for the plural. 'One' is slightly archaic, too formal to use in general conversation, can't be used in the third person and can be confused with the letter one. Some authors and groups of people use their own but this can confuse and distract readers who aren't familiar with the word. Is it time we cleared up this confusion and decided upon a gender-neutral pronoun for humans?
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When wishing not to specify a person's gender.
For instance, an author might not want to reveal a character's gender straight away because it is an important plot point that their gender is a mystery, they want to draw attention to something else about the character or they don't want the reader to have a certain impression about them because of gender stereotypes.
Saying 'the X' can look awkward when written down and become tedious if you reuse the same descriptions.
The person/The-human-being/cyborg/humanoid/creature/transsexual/mammal/silhouette/figure/detective/doctor/teacher/professional/actor(now gender-neutral)/director.
she and/or he?
she inclusive-or he?
thing it-is pejorative
When wishing to talk about someone who is not straightforwardly male or female.
In society today, there is increasingly more understanding that gender, sex and sexuality are not straightforward. There are alternatives to male or female. One can be biologically female but identify with the male gender. One may not identify as either gender or as a mix of both. A neutral pronoun would give these people a chance to more easily identify themselves as they wish.
It would also allow science fiction and fantasy writers to write more easily about a species that is actually androgynous, both male and female or have a third gender, or for scientific writers to write about actual animals with different genders to us.
This could lead to too many gender pronouns if different gender identities demand their own. This would make conversation incredibly confusing. It could also be a potential cause of conflict as gender identities claim to be insulted to be lumped into someone else's category.
'It' is gender neutral, those as the motion states insulting.
A person who chooses to be identified by one specific gender does not want to be termed androgynous/a-eunuch.
The term androgynous is semi-scientific and is therefore apt for science fiction. Also 'one' is commonly used in science fiction to replace 'him' from a past of archaic patriarchal gender neutrality(God was exclusively referred to as a 'He', before even though 'He' was/is not male')
Example: Star Trek opening:
"Space the final frontier, these are the voyages of the Star ship enterprise..."
The last line was changed from"To boldly go where no man has gone before" to"To boldly go where no one has gone before"
When gender is irrelevant to the topic.
Too often we see news reports where an individual is defined by their sex and age when this is not relevant to the topic.
For example, from the EDP (a provincial newspaper native to East Anglia) of Saturday the 27th of February, 2010: "Ms Suu Kyi, 64, has been detained by Burma's junta for 14 of the past 20 years".
In this context her age and marital status are not important. The report started by saying that "Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was appalled...". PM is gender neutral and we are not told GB's age.
I know this is a pedantic example, but in order to change attitudes we need to change the vocabulary.
Would make English even more confusing to learn.
English already has a reputation as the most difficult to learn as a second language. The grammar rules have many confusing exceptions, colloquial usage differs wildly from formal usage and the language is full of homophones and homonyms. Introducing more rules - which are bound to conflict with others in some way or just not be implemented properly - will make the language even worse to learn. Native English speakers who are used to a certain way of speaking will also have difficulty adjusting to the new rules.
Non-English speakers whose languages already have a gender-neutral pronoun and who find it confusing that English doesn't have one will find the language easier to learn if one was introduced.
Also there are 1024 characters in the Chinese language; compare that to 26 English alphabets.
Grammatical rules in English evolve with space and time.
Reductionism in American English is acceptable though not in keeping with predated English grammatical rules.
The oxford includes more words every year, incorporating words formerly from other languages; examples:purdah, pariah,mashriq(east)...
Oye is often used in conversation in British T.V shows; even though it was originally/really an Indian/sub-continental interjection used to get someone's attention[[http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070207185733AANEDZP]]
Even an Englishman living in England ten/twenty years will have/does difficulty conversing using contemporary grammatical rules and slang.
What do you think?