Re: Gender Reference

Subject: Re: Gender Reference
From: Richard Sobocinski <"Richard_G_Sobocinski%~WHC207"@CCMAIL.PNL.GOV>
Date: Thu, 26 May 1994 12:02:00 -0700

I must clarify that I did not write
these paragraphs. I did write a ================
response Gail, that basically agreed | wrong |
with your position, except that I | attribution! |
support the "generic male" pronoun ================
when sing. is unavoidable (very rare). |
At 09:06 AM 5/26/94 -0700, Richard Sobocinski wrote:
>In writing technical documentation it has been generally taboo to use any
>form of gender reference, such as he or she. Alternatives I have seen have
>ranged from using the third person plural to the new form; (s)he.

>I would appreciate any feed back from colleagues who use these, or
>alternatives to these. I am reviewing our style manual, and am not happy
>simply stating that gender reference should not be used. I would like to be
>able to provide examples/alternatives. Thanks in advance for your time.

I agree with the many people who wrote that gender references have no place
in technical writing ... for many reasons.

My system for avoiding gender references is to write in the second person,
and the imperative voice as much as possible. Where this does not work, I
can usually get away with recasting the sentence in such a way as to make
the subject plural. This allow for the use of the plural pronouns, which are
gender neutral in English.

Btw, my fellow tech writers, be thankful that we write in English. Most
other languages use gender-specific pronouns in the plural as well.


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