RE: pronouns and portfolios--bringing it back tech writing

Subject: RE: pronouns and portfolios--bringing it back tech writing
From: "Sella Rush" <sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2001 18:41:17 -0700

To me the most important aspect of the he/she/they issue is readability.
"He/she", "he or she" are distracting. Their use puts an undue focus on
something that is invariably unimportant (if it's important, the specific
should be used).

Often, so is the use of "she" when you're trying to alternate. "She" will
stop the reader because it's out of the ordinary and the reader needs to
spend a second figuring out whether its use is significant. This is the
argument my chief scientist (and other more "traditional" people) cite for
using "he" exclusively. But this sticks in my personal craw.

I like using "they" even with a singular verb. The only thing stopping me
is that its usage distracts the grammatically attuned. Occasionally I'll
use it, but I choose the audience carefully.

Note: I find the argument that use of "they" will erase "he" and "she" to
be faulty. Specificity will always have a place. It would just be nice if,
for simplicity's sake, we had a non-specific alternative when the specific
distracts readers from the material point of the sentence.


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