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Talk:Gender-inclusive language

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да, у каждого свое мнение. хотя предыдущий коммент полностью охарактеризовал то, что многие из нас хотели бы видеть в инете. — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Yes, every opinion. Although previous Comment is fully described what many of us would like to see in inete. - For those too lazy to translate themselves. Scarlet A.pngmoral 10:56, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

Move Article[edit]

I really think this article should be moved to 'Gender-inclusive language', or 'Gender-neutral pronouns', or something similar, because gender is its only focus.

"by what standard 'the best'"?[edit]

Easy to understand, intuitive, makes sense. I can't think of a better set of gender-neutral pronouns than than the 'X' ones. And I think it's pretty indisputable that these pronouns are a better solution than other methods -- it's just a matter of getting used to them. Fallacy (talk) 04:11, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

That's your view, and you have a right to it, but it should not be "the" RW view, unless others agree. I personally like "they" frankly, but that doesn't make me more right. Pink mowse.pngGodotI smell roasted chestnuts. droollllllll. 04:33, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
I also happen to like "they." I won't argue that it should be enshrined in the article as the "best," but I do feel it merits a mention. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 05:35, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Spivak also deserves a shout-out, I think. Blue Talk 05:36, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
The problem is fictional to start with. The solution is artificious, contrary to the principle of economy and an example of nefarious "regulation by exception". Good luck having speakers accepting such unnecessary burden.2001:985:C551:1:3865:FF2F:F725:42D9 (talk) 17:52, 28 May 2019 (UTC)
Troll Good luck getting a response from any of the people in this years-old thread you have just necro'd. --Yay for me, Rbl sigpic.png RightyBlueLuigi!(Not a Mod) 19:58, 31 May 2019 (UTC)


I'm not a massive fan of he/she, but this sentence is pushing the limits of my (generally pretty broad) tolerance to inclusive language

"A flaw of the "he/she" formation is the assumption that a person must be either one or the other, and hence this language excludes those who does not conform to the traditional gender binary (such as those who choose not to identify with a gender)."

Do we really want to discourage use of that system because it may offend a tiny amount of the population? I doubt it would even really be offensive in any case, unless someone was looking to be offended. Is there at least a source to back up the proposition that transgendered people are offended by its usage? --DamoHi 23:54, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm unaware of anyone taking offence for the reasons described. That said, anything which breaks down a dichotomous view of gender is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. The relatively small size of the trans population is irrelevant, especially given that they are subject to abuse and discrimination on a pretty intense scale, and to stop that, some basic transformations in how we understand gender need to happen. Theory of Practice "Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made." 00:00, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
From what i understand it's already pretty widespread, especially in formal writing. It's a convention with its own common usage and set of rules that would likely continue to be used even if a neologism got popular; i doubt that pointing out it's not a perfect solution in a world where the boundaries of gender are probably going to keep loosening will harm the overall movement. Besides, it has other problems, as i just added. Nihilist 00:05, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I take offence to "s/he" on stylistic grounds. Scarlet A.pngd hominemModerator 00:06, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
(EC) I don't know if I totally buy that the small size is irrelevant, but leaving that to one side, I'm not sure that he/she implies that one has to be one or the other. I would just like to see some evidence somewhere of a group of people objecting to it on this ground. Just looking around at some google searches on the subject [1] [2] [3] [4] it isn't mentioned anywhere as being an issue. If it really were an issue worth mentioning, RW wouldn't be the only ones to bring it up. I want a cite for it, otherwise I am going to insist its inclusion be reconsidered. DamoHi 00:08, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I have no problem removing it if offence cannot be documanted. But I still like the idea of tearing down the gender dichotomy in daily usage. Theory of Practice "Now we stand outcast and starving 'mid the wonders we have made." 00:12, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
It pretty-clearly implies one or the other. As for the taking of offense, i found this (cached version because the site isn't working for me right now). Nihilist 00:16, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
There's a difference between it being "offensive" and it being "non-inclusive". The quote above doesn't suggest it's to avoid offence, but to include those who don't use the gender binary or view it as strict. Scarlet A.pngbominationModerator 00:39, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Besides, in an article entitled "Gender-inclusive language", yes, of course it's a valid point to raise. Scarlet A.pngssholeModerator 00:40, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
The singular "they" has been used in vernacular English at least since Shakespeare. Blue Talk 03:56, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
'They' is good for generic statements, but if you're referring to a specific person it doesn't really work well. Nihilist 04:03, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

New text[edit]

I have added the following text on singular they. (My brief here is not to shoot down singular they, although this is my prime reason for choosing to use xie instead.)

One difficulty with singular they is that it carries no information that can be used to narrow down the possible referent(s) of the pronoun; it strips out not only gender, but number and animacy — animacy being the distinction between it and he/she/they/xie. (All human languages that have pronouns mark the pronouns in various ways — gender, number, animacy, social status, age, priority, clusivity, &c. — for exactly this reason: to facilitate rapid and reasonably unambiguous resolution of the pronoun referent.) As a result, the only impossible referent of the pronoun they is a single inanimate object. This frequently creates communication difficulties with resolving pronoun reference, as the hearer must go through the entire pronoun-reference stack to answer the question "which they is that?" This isn't a difficulty when there is only one possible they in the conversation, but as the number of theys increases, the possible referents increase almost exponentially (since they could refer to any one of the theys, or any combination of the several theys). The whole point of pronouns is erased if speakers have to stop the conversation to ask "which they is this?". This difficulty can only be obviated by further modifications to the language to create new markings — precisely the objection many people hold against neologistic gender-free pronouns like xie.

I also added this comment on the neologistic pronouns:

Though it should be noted that for the most part these "derivatives" are not so much independent pronouns as spelling variations: xe, xie, and ze are pronounced identically, approximately 'tzee'. The genderqueer community seems to have a consensus that the appropriate singular gender-neutral pronoun has the vowel /ee/ preceded by /z/, /ts/, /tz/, or /dz/; putative pronouns that don't have this form (such as co or thon) don't achieve any traction at all. Again, the only controversy is spelling.

One user — I won't name names; those who are interested can look at the fossil record — appears to object to this, reflexively reverting. I have re-reverted twice, requesting a rationale. I am open to a reasonable rationale; one that I can't see may exist. (talk) 20:10, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I have heard singular they in the natural speech of rural midwestern north Americans. In context, it is unambiguous in all respects. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 20:39, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
As I note, the problem doesn't exist where there is only one reasonably plausible referent of they. (And the historical usage of "they" has seldom if ever moved past that base case, and nearly always has referred to a hypothetical person, "somebody", rather than a specific person. The usage of "they" as a pronoun referring to a specific known person is a novelty which takes us well beyond that historical usage.) But the practise scales up very badly — what's unambiguous in the base case becomes very confusing when extended. It's easy to follow one ball with your eye, and tricky to follow two; just try following six. Have you ever been in a conversation in which five different people are all referred to as "they"? I have. And I've seen how the conversation becomes very disjointed as people have to keep interrupting it to track which they is being referred to — or else rather awkward as people start reverting to using names rather than pronouns — and the confusion that results when someone misinterprets who "they" refers to. (There are a lot of jokes about this kind of thing among genderqueer people, which is the best possible evidence that the difficulty is a real one and experienced at least occasionally by many people.)
This is caused by throwing the number and animacy markers out with the gender markers — the baby with the bathwater. There's a reason why all human languages that have pronouns mark them in some way: human language processing is aided by the markings on the pronouns, which cue the hearer to which referent is meant. Without any markings, there's no cuing. For example, there'd be no difficulty if English had priority markings on pronouns, as some indigenous American and African languages do — in essence, "the first one mentioned", "the second one mentioned", and so on. ASL does something similar using a kind of parking space that can be explicitly referred to. Or if pronouns were marked by something other than gender. For example, Twi (spoken in Ghana) marks pronouns for respect, social status, age, and social role, but not gender or sex; I used to know a native speaker of Twi who had trouble with English's gendered pronouns, with results that were, unintentionally, both irksome and hilarious. But English does not (currently) have any such marking other than number and animacy — both of which singular they erases in the worthy cause of gender-inclusivity. If we're going to modify language usage for gender-inclusivity, we may as well put some thought into it and devise usage that works well and takes account of how humans process language. That could be one of the pronouns like xie, which maintains the number and animacy marking, or it could be some other sort of innovative marking along other lines, for example a somewhat altered form of they that marks it as distinct from the plural they. (For example, pronouncing singular they as vey. Much, much weirder things have happened in language evolution.) I'm not invested enough in xie particularly to reject that second kind of innovation; I'm an "if it works, it works" kind of girl. Perhaps it's even more likely to happen than broad acceptance of xie. But something will give: language evolves in response to needs, and there's a need for something better than singular they. I guess I'd say that singular they is a good start, but only a start; there are kinks yet to be hammered out. (talk) 22:01, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
By odd coincidence, there was a speaker of Twi at our house yesterday, along with two children of hers. In the US midwestern usage I've heard, "they" is not limited to people, but may also apply to singular livestock or pets. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 22:07, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Further uses of 'neutral gender pronoun'[edit]

Persons whose identity is not immediately obvious - eg on wikis IP-users and wiki-pen-name users, and 'the person who did X' (good, bad or neutral) generally. Could probably also be used of animals generally - often the actual gender is not relevant. Anna Livia (talk) 16:32, 10 April 2018 (UTC)