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Sat Oct 12, 2019, 12:58 PM

Calling all grammar geeks and word nerds [View all]


Am I the only grammar geek /word nerd up in arms over the neverending changes to pronouns and words we’ve used all our lives? As long ago as 2016, I climbed up on my soapbox in one of my “Ink Penn” blogs to protest the notion that “they” could be used as a singular pronoun:

•… “they” can be used to refer to only one person. That’s right; you may think “they” means two or more people or animals, but not any longer. Now, because it can be awkward or possibly offensive to say something like, “We want any student to feel as though he or she can speak up,” it’s been decided that “they” in place of “he or she” is acceptable.

• The Washington Post added this usage to its style guide, and the Canadian Government endorsed it. After all these years of rewriting sentences to avoid having to say he/she, it seems I have one less thing to worry about.

In the same blog, I bemoaned the fact that Mx had joined Mr, Mrs and Ms as a gender-neutral title. Three years hence, a shift to Mx and they seems pretty darned simple. Why? Because I read an article in the Wall Street Journal citing a blog post titled, “Gender Neutral Pronouns — What They Are & How to Use Them.” Though it mentioned using “they,” “them,” “their” as easy non-offensive ways to refer to individuals, it also provided this list of replacement pronouns for the ones we’re all accustomed to:

• He/She — Zie, Sie, Ey, Ve, Tey, E

• Him/Her — Zim, Sie, Em, Ver, Ter, Em

• His/Her — Zir, Hir, Eir, Vis, Tem, Eir

• His/Hers — Zis, Hirs, Eirs, Vers, Ters, Eirs

• Himself/Herself — Zieself, Hirself, Eirself, Verself, Terself, Emself

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