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Subject:Re: he/she From:"Jean D. Ichbiah" <ichbiah -at- JDI -dot- TIAC -dot- NET> Date:Fri, 4 Aug 1995 22:40:39 GMT
In article <950804071517_47736762 -at- aol -dot- com> HEP2 -at- aol -dot- com writes:
>So, you find the use of "she" distracting rather than the traditional "he"?
>Women find "he" distracting as well when it refers to both men and women.
>(How about that gynecology book many years ago that refered to the patient as
>he and used the possessive his?) I'm afraid this is one tradition that has
>changed. So, if we don't have a gender neutral pronoun, then obviously we
>should use the pronoun that refers to the majority of the population: she.
>Don't you think that's fair? Why use a minority pronoun to represent all the
>people. Women have been told all their lives that "he" was universal, so
>don't worry about it. It's not that important. But if women start using "she"
>instead, then all of a sudden it becomes important. Men seem to have this odd
>logic that because they've used "he" can be inclusive while "she" cannot be.
>I seem to recall a few years ago someone wanted to bring back the gender
>neutral "ve" that once been used to represent both he and she. Anyone know
The whole argument was started fourty years ago by a group of people
who did not know much about grammar: in prior days, "he" was neutral.
The effect on the English language is devastating. Nobody likes the s/he
and so resort to other techniques. For example, using the passive form to
avoid giving away the gender of the actor and being criticized for it. Passive
form was very much used in German, more rarely in English. You may
wonder if this increased use of the passive will influence the way people
In French we have a very elegant solution because gender is associated
to nouns. When there is an apposition, you take the last gender.
So we can say "Madame le Ministre" without her feeling masculinized,
and similarly, "Monsieur la sentinelle" without him feeling castrated.
It also happens that "person" is feminine so you can say for example
"Robert est une personne charmante et elle..."