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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
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
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
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.
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