Re: His/Her v. Their

Subject: Re: His/Her v. Their
From: "Monique Semp" <monique -dot- semp -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TechWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2012 16:13:41 -0700

Hello, WR-L-ers,

I've been following this all day on my iPad because I spent much of my time waiting in waiting rooms today, but now I'm back at my desk with a real keyboard and can easily send my thoughts.

A while ago I learned that there *is* an argument to be made that "their" is perfectly acceptable as a singular gender-unspecific pronoun. So I just googled it, and although this isn't the link that I remember, it will do for now: http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/sgtheirl.html.

I doubt this will persuade any of the writers who so passionately discussed this today, but it seems on topic and some might find it interesting.

But although I'd really like to use "their" in this fashion, I do generally avoid it because the vast (vast) majority of people will think it incorrect, which isn't a good thing in docs -- kind of like when an editor told me very early on in my career that I really should avoid using "comprise" because although I'd used it correctly, most people would think I hadn't. I was disappointed and rebelled for a while, but came to accept the wisdom of her words.

I do occasionally use the "s/he" construction instead of "he/she" or "he or she", but again I do that only sparingly because it is certainly a non-standard construction. But I like it so in one-off sorts of papers or reports (vs. ongoing maintained manuals, for example) where the writing style can be a bit more free ("free-er"?), I use it.

-Monique

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References:
His/Her v. Their: From: Becca

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