Singular "they".

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Jul 2, 2022.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,116
    You miss the point.

    Post 6:

    mathman essentially wants first right of refusal on the pronouns for the non-binary community, based on his own predilections.

    Turning the tables on him, his own logic says he doesn't get to decide for himself what he gets called.

    I get to decide for him what I want to call him - and I don't have to be right - I just have to be comfortable with it. So I say 'mathman' rubs me the wrong way.



    Because some people decide to make it political doesn't mean it becomes political for everyone.

    The non-binary community should have the right to set their pronouns, free of harrassment by trigerees.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2022
    cluelusshusbund likes this.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,706
    I once had a (female) dog who would lift her leg to pee. You know THAT would have triggered modern conservatives. They'd start trying to figure out how to ban her from fire hydrants.
     
    Michael 345 likes this.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Are you sure it's appropriate to refer to your dog as "her"? "They" might not identify as a "her". Man's best friend deserves better, don't you think?
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    12,665
  8. Dicart Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    465
    Yeah. Thats what i explain just after...

    But the problem come from the fact that the English language is not very refined.
    In french we dont have this kind of problem.
    We dont only say "a dog", we say :
    Male : Un chien.
    Female : Une chienne.
    And when we dont know the gender we use the neutral male gender.

    There is less confusion possible (thats why french language is the language of diplomates...).

    So, if you want to be more precise, dont just change the he/she, change the name of the "thing" your are refering to :
    Here per example :
    Male : A dog.
    Female : A dogess.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dogess
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,116
    Yes. English has the same sexist problem: the defaulting to male - as if females are merely a variation on the male.
    That is one of the archaic sexism problems we are trying to move past.
     
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    20,706
    I'd say you do have a problem because gender is even more important in French, since everything has a gender even when it's not related to people. This happens rarely in English, and only relating to words describing people - blond and blonde, steward and stewardess are two examples. But the English does not have genders for non-person-related words. We just have "dog" for example.
     
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Blond and blonde isn't even a great example in American English. It's generally just blond in all cases (not that it's incorrect the other way, technically).
     
  12. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,947
    I have a PhD in math. I guess that allows me to call myself mathman. Finding a simple singular instead of 'they' was an attempt at using the KISS principle. I looks like it didn't work.
     
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,116
    *dang*

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Are you really Dave. If not...
     
  15. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,933
    The other day, on another forum far, far away, I made a comment about Hermann Goering. Or should it have been Hiswomann Goering?
     
  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,116
    I'm really Dave.

    I thought I'd painted mathman into a logical corner, but he pulled an Ace out of his butt.
    And he's been a good sport the whole time, despite my (pretend) trolling him.
     
  17. mathman Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,947
    I'm lost as to what corner I was supposed to be in. All I wanted was an application of KISS, but the conversation went haywire.
     
  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,947
    Dave is Canadian, we have to make allowances for that...
     
    sideshowbob likes this.
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,116
    I was trying to - as a point of argument - invalidate your claim to be referred to as mathman by deciding it meant something totally subjective to me. But if you actually do have a phd in math, then my brilliant argument falls flat.

    If it had worked as planned, you should have bridled at the idea that I - a stranger with no skin in your game - could presume to decide for you what you should be called.



    Is it now apparent where it went haywire?

    When some person or group decides what's best for a recognized Protected Group*, at best that's privilege**; at worst it's oppression**.

    * those with non-standard sexual orientations and/or gender identities are classed as Protected Groups or Protected Classes under US and Canadian law.

    ** in this case, hetero-normative privilege
     
  20. Dicart Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    465
    You should then have specified more clearly your demand.
    If you want a new but KISS solution, instead of using a new word like "ti' (this word is bad because it can easily be confused with "it") then ... say nothing.
    No "they", no "them", no "it", say nothing instead of "he" or "she"
     
  21. Dicart Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    465
    Where is the bird ?
    (nothing) in the sky.

    Where is my dog ? (nothing) in the car.
     
  22. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,933
    I doubt that birds and dogs care what pronoun you use.

    And blackbirds probably won't insist that you call them African-American birds.
     
  23. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    37,138
    Cuban-American poet, author, translator, and teacher Achy Obejas↱ explains:

    As a translator, mostly from Spanish to English, but not infrequently from English to Spanish, I've been pondering this issue for a while. In English, "they" solves a lot of problems, but Spanish—inherently binary—does not have a similar solution so readily available. In Spanish, gender is always marked, not just for living beings but also inanimate objects: the table is feminine, coffee is masculine. In Spain, the common vulgar word for penis is feminine; clitoris is masculine. (Explain that last one to me, please.)

    Rita Indiana is a writer for whom gender is front and center in her stories, but who avoids explicitly addressing or publicly engaging with questions relating to non-binary terminology. In Tentacle, Indiana's cli-fi novel, which I translated into English, the author moves between ella and él in talking about the main character, Acilde, who is transgender, with nary a non-binary pause between. I wondered: was this a deliberate choice or was she simply doing her best under the constraints of a language that is so highly gendered? I've never gotten clarity from Indiana on this issue, so I chose to hew closely to the original.

    I'll be honest, Boomerang/Bumerán wasn't originally written in a genderless format—in either language. That was an evolution that resulted from the process of curating the poems that would eventually be included, and my parallel reflections on genderless language. I wondered: what would gender-free language sound like? What would it look like on the page?

    I was transparent with my editors and in all my public presentations—this is not, for the most part, my day-to-day speech. Of course, I use "they," sure, my pals and I banter about "amigues" and "todes" in Spanish. But the world, I think, is in a period of transition with language (as it always is), and there's little consistency to any of these innovations when it's late at night, the music's loud, and we're all talking at once.

    Where we might land after this is anyone's guess. What I did in Boomerang/Bumerán isn't meant as a manifesto but as an experiment—one way, one voice. But who knows? On a street corner in San Salvador or La Paz, there may be a yet unknown form developing. Or, something like Polari or Lóxoro, queer crypto languages originating in London and Lima, respectively, may yet overtake all we now know and become our new, genderless lingua franca. I have no doubt that, when it comes to gender, how we speak and write now will be anachronistic, if not forgotten, in fifty years.

    If the tango, or Spanish language, stands or falls with or without gender, that might say something about music, dance, and language, and suddenly we are not so far from culture, and the idea that the English language or Western culture will collapse without eternally fixed, dualistic gender assignation.

    And if a sister poet somehow thinks a language survived this long just to be undone by one Cuban-American poet playing with language, that is whatever it is in artistic discourse, and a far cry from that one guy who got beaten because he followed the in-house gender instructions.

    In either case, though, the question remains why a critic finds this particular criterion so important.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Obejas, Achy. "On Gendered Language". Poetry Foundation. 11 July 2022. PoetryFoundation.org. 14 July 2022. https://bit.ly/3O9C89p
     

Share This Page