In the somehwat anonymous world of the internet and message boards, this one for example, it is oftentimes the case where someone responds to another poster as “he” or “she” only to be corrected later in the thread that the “he” is actually a “she” or the “she” is actually a “he”. Of course to be safe you cold write “he or she” or “she or he”, or as some are apt to do “s/he”. But what we really need is a small two or three letter word that means neitehr he or she but rather is gender neutral basically meaning “that person whatever their gender may be”.
Obviously we should avoid “me” or “we” as they are taken and pronouns in their own right. I would propose rejected “ze” as it sounds like we are saying “he” with a crappy french accent. “pe” is right out, I don’t think I should have to explain why. I kind of like “xe” as it gives us more ways to use the X in scrabble and an X is frequently used as a placeholder for an unknown quantity. Now I realize that xe is the symbol for Xenon, but I don’t see how that matters, because, Xenon, right? Of course, then the question becomes how do we pronounce it, and immediately you think, “zee” which runs into the whole french accent thing (it’s not a dig at the french, just, you know it would sound goofy).
So I was thinking, maybe “ye”, as a Y is also well known as a letter used for unknown quantities. Granted it still has the old(e) english meaning, such as “ye olde basterd”. But, shold we let that get in the way of prgress.
Of course it doesn’t have to end in “e”, but for sconsistency sake (me, we, he, she), I think it should.
These are just my intial thoughts, I am welcoming all suggestions at this point, an open debate to resolve this pressing matter.
They has been coming in as the gender neutral singular for years now. It’s very much accepted in speech. Next time you are in a conversation with a group listen for it. You will hear they, their, them used in singular. Written language changes much more slowly than verbal, but it does change, especially in situations like this where the speakers of the language feel there is a gap in the language.
I’ve been watching this language change for more than a decade now. I expect in the next ten years they, them, their will be acceptable as singular in the written form as well as in the verbal.
We also, in this darling English language of ours, need separate pronouns for second-person… whatever it is… (not “formal” and “informal” like the French *tu *and vous, but rather, words that’s clearly indicate whether you mean “you” (the individual I am talking to), or “you” (the generic, all-encompassing “anybody”).
I guess we can use “you” (you suck!), and “one” (“one shouldn’t chew with one’s mouth full”), and I sometimes do that; but I like "thee " and “thou” better. Do they work (do those work?) Isn’t that what those old-timey words were for?
Help me out here— I’m struggling with the right terms here… but maybe you know what I mean.
Like that last “you”. Should that have been “you all”? “Thou”? “Vous”? What are the words for this and why don’t we use them!?!?
Way the heck down here, we’re getting “youse”, which I hate, loathe and detest. But there is the very valid point that the plural ‘you’ is a separate word in many polynesian languages and that’s where alot of our speakers have originated from.
I may have to hate, loathe and accept it eventually.