Reviews | Gender neutral pronouns: the singular “they” and alternatives


The most natural currencies would be those which form a set with “she” and “he” such as “that” (“kwee”), “re” and “xe”. Could something be closer to the heart of the LGBTQ community than the first of these? And that’s just the start in the brainstorming exercise. The non-binary community can grab it from here.

Simon marcus
Oakland, California

For the publisher:

I agree with John McWhorter that languages ​​are “destined to evolve”; indeed, it is one of the sources of their endless fascination. But the introduction of “they” and “them” to replace gender-specific pronouns in English is both clumsy and needlessly disruptive. It also reveals a lack of imagination.

The replacement of Miss and Mrs. by Mrs., which Mr. McWhorter notes, was elegant and efficient; to use “they” and “them” in both the singular and the plural is simply obscuring. Verb-subject agreement is not a form of gender entrapment – it is a thing of beauty. Hopefully those who wish to neutralize the gender will find something that will enrich our language at the same time.

Sonya Michel
Silver Spring, Maryland
The writer is Professor Emeritus of History, American Studies, and Feminist Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

For the publisher:

At John McWhorter’s call for the acceptance of an evolutionary and non-sexist language, I propose these neologisms: she (elle-il), which works in print but is pronounced “shy”, herm (her-him), and herm (possessive). They are not very far from what is.

Richard Rosenthal
new York

For the publisher:

Kudos to John McWhorter, whose compelling “lesson” on linguistic evolution, though condensed, is accessible and clear.

Even the most socially liberal can find it exhausting to keep abreast of changing standards in terms of appropriate and / or acceptable words and behavior. Mr. McWhorter’s explanation of the singular use of “they”, which at first glance seems incomprehensible, provides welcome relief to those who, as he concedes, are tired.


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