Okay, I’ve been gnawing on this for a day. What does that mean? I looked up “pronoun indirection” and was like, oh hell no! @sudocurse is gonna explain this to me! I ain’t looking up grammar in my leisure time.
ohhh the indirection im referring to is using “eir” as a stand-in to let someone off the hook of figuring out whether to use her/their/his. what’s difficult about finding out and then using the pronouns someone wants? using someones correct pronouns can mean a lot. also having to explain that “e” is not “he” is a symptom of a system that may cause more harm than whatever it was meant for. the “uniform and made up” pronoun solution might be a fun way to sidestep the complexities of gender in theory but i think maybe its time has come.
I want to be clever and ponder: what other system is there?
I’ve been thinking about this since you posted this morning, trying to navigate my feelings.
I suppose the thinking about it part. I think about what the world thinks of little girls, grown women, and large men when the world reminds me. On my own it is very distracting and I don’t linger on it. My personal “gender identity” confusion was somewhat relieved by the acceptance of expanded gender identity language. I admit I am resistant to becoming confused again.
Another way of saying that is I don’t think your category will be very popular!
Do I have to acknowledge a person’s gender identity?
Do “made up” words have validation criteria? I’d love another word for “computer-mediated communications” (facetious-to-the-max: I don’t!).
Is Isis a goddess, a terrorist, both, or none of the above?
Where are we on “they”? Singular? Plural?
I want my gender to refereed to by the reverse spelling of each person’s Christian name, or nickname if they don’t have one. I think you should be able to refer to me as “e”, “they”, or “hey you” with eye contact/pointing. Thoughts?
ok this one appears more complicated than it is. “i was hanging with my friend. their cat was very nice” the antecedent is clearly singular. english grammar relies on context just as much as any other language. “are they sure we know who theyre talking about?” no, not without context we dont
theres a larger point about the arbitrary nature of the gender binary in some of ur other remarks like yeah its cool to incorporate that notion into ur life
the friction maybe arises when u interface w/ uncertain or adverse groups of people, or really just most other people. (idk its ur experience of “use ur terminology for others” not mine). people interfacing is hard af
Rather than be frustrated by how this makes me feel I decided to examine this internal process, and I think it is because discussing “language” is a, um, circular logic trap for me. I have so much opinion about, like, everything about language. In the Snow Crash sense, if that reference makes sense.
So when I realized I was trapped in a loop I decided to break out with a yard stick, a canon if you will.
First, or er, zeroth! I’m gonna preamble this by saying I’m gonna talk about logic but I intend to land where compassion reigns and people are trying to get along, as we do. No discounting the human experience or condition. Striving towards understanding.
What, what are you doing there? You typing that out on a phone that charges by the character? Here, I just had these hanging around, Vanna White style: yoyoyo
Wait a sec! How did I know you needed a yoyoyo, yo? Because context and evolving language! I want us to think about how language evolves and who gets to set those rules and how the rules are enforced. Because that’s how I’m thinking about it, right now. Oh, I would love if you shared a similar, um, framework description. It would help me understand.
Okay, secondly, some responses:
yoyo! Thank you!
So, this idea crept into my head after participating in NaNoWriMo. Several times. And hanging out with strangers and having them share their stories with me. And my feedback was mostly, all these parts are great, “and you should rewrite that specific sentence.” And they’re like, “oh yeah, that makes sense.”
Having an articulate kid and one that really challenges emself and the language, I hear that same editing happening in real time. Notably, there is a gag to start a sentence in one place and end somewhere else, often to humorous effect. I’d speculate that most English speakers I speak with demonstrate some form of think-talking and changing the words they use as they speak.
I’m sharing that because I’ve mostly dismissed the grammar argument against “they”. When people have something ambiguous to say we clarify in a variety of ways. We quickly learn which things are accurate and which are not.
This point is actually a brick in the foundation of my (general) disuse of gendered pronouns. I basically refer to everyone as e/ey/em/eir/they/them/their. Because I only use those I know to write and speak with other qualifiers when noting a confusing scenario (“They were around the corner, alone.”, “I just saw em walk by, with two others.”).
On a personal note, to share a personal experience, this has been really helpful for me mentally. I intentionally don’t learn details about people. Oh wow, that sounds weird. Wait, does that sound weird? Um, someone let me know, because all I know is that I feel weird sharing that. But it’s true. There’s trauma in there, mixed with the world we live in, blended together in the mind of an information technology professional.
And so… not having to engage with a piece of data about a person is a mental relief. And then it started to fade. Now I see notions attributed to gender, sometimes flaring and sometimes just the air about a person. Most of the time the notions are without gender. What I’m saying is that my mind caught glimpses of something outside of the binary gender paradigm, and I changed my language to follow, and it changed me more. So I believe in the transformative power of language, specifically around gendered pronouns.
My worry is that I’m so overwhelmed by this personal experience I won’t be able to be partial about it. I’m trying!
Please rephrase that! Are you trolling me!?
For reals, I am unsure how the parenthesized portion relates to the first. Let me know!
Okay, for the third act, more questions!
Do we need pronouns?
Do we need gendered pronouns?
I’d say, in English, we need pronouns. When we get a better system, I’ll hop on. And in English, I’d say we don’t need gendered pronouns. We used to, but then the young internet was the perfect blend of weird and useful to produce a better system that was really apparent had society taken a moment to think about it. So I switched!
I believe human beings do not need gendered pronouns specifically; and im pretty sure some constructed languages exist without pronouns in general. (Though pronouns in general are not without virtue.) So in a literal sense their not needed by humans in the abstract per se. I suspect quite a lot of humans would express a pyschological need to be able to talk about their gender identity and have it recognized by others, but that doesn’t have to happen at the pronoun level.
However once a culture opens a linguistic space for a concept. That space typically doesn’t go away even when people stop using it. Atleast not quickly. Absence of the use of that conceptual-space can then itself be notable or convey additional or even unintentional meaning. Or even be used itself as a signifier.