The Basic Ideas Behind a New Word

The English language has over a million words in its vocabulary. New inventions, discoveries, and technology are creating the need for more words to be coined every year. Yet, even with all the new words, English does not have a neutral third person singular personal pronoun appropriate for living beings*. A new word needs to be contrived to fill this vacancy in the language. 

Since the English language has replaced grammatical genders with natural genders, it follows that those natural genders should be recognized and respected. Speakers, writers, or any other communicators must be grammatically correct as well as politically correct when using pronouns. 

A set of new words needs to be fabricated for use when the gender of an antecedent (the noun a pronoun replaces) is unknown or in some cases when the subject which the pronoun replaces is both masculine and feminine or neither! 

By disseminating the new word and its case variations and by promoting their use, the English language can gain a few new words that will make communication more precise and gender friendly. Through all forms of media, internet, television, radio, newspapers, newsletters, as well as public speakers, politicians, teachers, clergy, and entertainers, the new words could be in full use sometime in the early months of the new year. If everyone passes them on to a few other people, the idea could spread faster than a chain letter. The rewards for doing so would be the realization that each has helped improve the language. 

This paper is an explanation of the need, logic and reason behind the introduction of a new set of neutral third person singular personal pronouns into the English language. 

* Strict grammarians insist that the masculine be used for the neutral pronoun. As we enter the new century, we have the opportunity to replace this presumption with a proper neutral pronoun. 

The Current Situation 

Third person singular personal pronouns are either

 

  • masculine (he, his, him, and himself),

 

  • feminine (she, her, hers, her, and herself), or 

 

  • neutral (it, its, it, and itself).

    • The singular pronoun "it" does not imply gender, but usually refers to inanimate objects. It may be offensive to some people who infer or imply less than human connotations with its use in referring to a person.

 

A new neutral third person singular personal pronoun will eliminate the possibly sexist guessing of "he" or "she" or the cumbersome use of "he or she" or "he/she" in writing or speaking.

 

Past attempts to introduce a new pronoun such as s/he, E, te, and co have failed for various reasons; possibly the description was not strong enough to force the prescription. 

 

Currently, some communicators choose to use the word "one" or "one's" as the pronoun when the gender of the antecedent is possibly masculine or feminine. However, this is ambiguous and has several alternate meanings. Example: 

 

                  The student must study diligently if one chooses to do one's best. 

 

Other communicators change the antecedent to the plural form so that plural pronouns, they, their, theirs, them, themselves, can be used to avoid mistakes and embarrassment. 

 

Note on current usage:

A preferred singular subject is often changed to a plural subject so that a pronoun used later can refer back to it correctly. For example, if the subject of the sentence is "child" and the gender of the child might be male or female, both genders of third person singular pronouns must be used to avoid referring to one sex and not the other.   

 

    A child is proud if he or she can tie his or her own shoes by himself or herself. 

   A parent should also be proud of him or her.

 

Making the subject plural creates a simpler sentence.

           they is used in place of he or she

           their or theirs is used in place of his/her/hers

           them is used in place of him or her

           themselves is used in place of himself/herself.



     Children are proud if they can tie their own shoes by themselves.
       Parents should also be proud of them.
 

 

Another example would be: 

           A person must mind his/her manners. 

Making the subject plural creates a simpler sentence. 

          People must mind their manners.

 

 

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