English, as most of us know, is a strange, erratic language. It almost completely lacks the masculine and feminine distinctions found in most other languages, particularly those of the Romance/Neolatin family. When it comes to singular pronouns, we have "he," we have "she," and we have "it". He, obviously, refers to males. She to females. And it to everything not human.
In this frightening age of political correctness, many parties take issue with the sole use of "he," even when prefaced by disclaimers found in the forewords of several texts. As a result, we often find the unnecessarily uneconomic use of "he or she," "he and she," he and/or she," and the absolutely ghastly "s/he."
Honestly, in my opinion, we need to figure out a solution before many grammarians (including myself) go stark raving mad.
Here are some proposals:
1) They - seriously, it's already colloquially accepted, with only the most involved text-Nazis pointing out the improper use of "they" as a substitute for "he or she." I'm perfectly fine with this, and I don't point it out in edits unless I'm specifically asked to. I use it, you probably use it, and given the proper use of antecedent, it's not going to confuse anybody.
2) The - this one would be hard to swallow, as it's already one of our two most common words used. But the logic is there. He, she, they. Simply drop the y, and we'd have a gender-neutral pronoun that follows the same pattern as the other two.
3) Person - while technically correct, it is, admittedly, a bit awkward. Instead of "if he or she decides to continue," we have "if person decides to continue." Many get around this by using "said person," but that's quite unnecessary. Just for the record, I don't like this option.
4) Phe - another awkward one, but one that also follows the pattern. Based on the word "hermaphrodite," this also offers a certain logic.
5) Shit - no, I'm not joking. Why not legitimize the word? Think about it. Our three singular pronouns are he, she, and it. Look closely. See the logic? Okay, so I am joking, but the relation is quite evident.
6) Xhe - a completely baseless modern "cool" word that uses an underachieving (yet overexposed) letter of English language. On top of that, in speech, it would be pronounced like a Chinese combination of "she" and "jee." And since I made it up, I quite like it and will use it from here on out. Nyah.
Words you probably don't know:
allopatric - occuring in different geographic areas or in isolation
fulvous - of a dull browny yellow
lustrate - to purify ceremonially
* This is the first part of what will hopefully be a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that's happening over at The ...
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