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Subject:Re: He, She, They From:Penney Alldredge <penney -at- LCLARK -dot- EDU> Date:Wed, 26 Mar 1997 15:56:13 +0000
I apologize to those of you who have seen this message before, but I just
realized that posts to the newsgroup do not go out to those of you who are
just on the email list.
I haven't entered the wonderful world of technical writing quite yet, but
I'll tell you how I get around that problem in my academic life. I can't
make myself use "they" or "their" when I'm really only talking about one
person. I know, I know, language is constantly changing, but inconsistency
is just one of my pet peeves. Needless to say, I've come up with some
creative solutions to avoiding male bias in my writing. So, you could try:
1) changing everything to the plural. Sometimes it really doesn't matter
how many people you refer to--just as long as you're consistent. This does
_not_ work in every situation and I've only done it once, but it's worth a
2) The good old he or she. If you're not using pronouns every sentence or
so, it can work. Just use the noun you're referring to a little more to
mix it up.
3) Using "one" or "one's." Again, not useful in every situation and it can
4) Just using female pronouns. This is definitely not gender-neutral and
it can be kind of shocking, but at least it's not cumbersome.
5) Using s/he. It's ugly and annoying, but if you don't have to use it
that much, it's really not all that bad.
I use #2 the most, but if I find myself using too many pronouns, I'll
change everything over to #4.