Re: His/Her v. Their

Subject: Re: His/Her v. Their
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2012 12:39:38 -0700

On 10/26/2012 8:23 AM, Porrello, Leonard wrote:

I too am uncomfortable with "their", and unless there is a need to specifically call out one gender instead of another, I tend to use "his"--and I would expect writers who are women to tend to use "hers".

I am uncomfortable with "their" as a reference to a single person, unless I am referring to a person with multiple personalities. I find the use of "her" as a reference to be annoying.

The original words of "his" and "man" were not gender-specific, except that women were considered to lack the autonomy of men, so the terms never directly applied to them. "Man" always meant person, but the original word was found in the words (my spelling may be off) "werman" and "wifman." "Wer-" as in "werewolf" referred to the male and "wif-" as in "wife" referred to the female. The words "lady" and "lord" were gender-specific words that came down from terms for spousal bread makers. I forget where "his" and "her" came from, but now that women are not second-class people, it is pointless to make a separate distinction for women, unless there is a valid reason to suspect a gender basis in using the terms.

I were writing documents for use primarily in India or China, where (because of sex selective abortion and infanticide) there are literally tens of millions of "missing" girls, I would seriously consider using ONLY "hers" and "she".

As a political statement?

Another place where writers need to deal with this more deliberately is in texts for Western children. Over the past few decades Western culture, in a deeply misguided attempt to synthetically create gender quality, has shifted to using "her" in examples almost exclusively when speaking of children and to children. Instead of this, I would like to see equal use of "his" and "hers".

That is an interesting point.

Gender equality is achieved through equal pay and promotion for equal work, not by Orwellian attempts to change the language.


Having said that, I should add that when "their" shifts enough to be included in a prescriptive dictionary, I'll probably start using it.

I still won't like it, but I also adhere to the second space and serial comma.

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His/Her v. Their: From: Becca
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Cardimon, Craig
Re: His/Her v. Their: From: Peter Neilson
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Cardimon, Craig
RE: His/Her v. Their: From: Porrello, Leonard

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