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Passions in Poetry

Singular they

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Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 09-24-2003 06:36 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

http://www.vocabula.com/2003/VRSept03Altieri.htm
Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


1 posted 09-24-2003 03:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

O my, I find that a bit silly.  Anyone may as freely use she and her as he and his.  Or use one or one's.
Why don't we just use our own gender when in many cases?  If you are male use "he" and "his" And if you are female use "she" and her.
As well, we must consider the roots here concerning "man"  Man originally, in eald englisc, referred to "one" "anyone"  Hence "wifeman/woman."  Wife was woman; Were was man.  So regarding the "mankind" issue it did not originate in an intent for male superemcy.  It would've been "werekind."  That I believe is whence referring to our kind as "man" generally comes.  Since the meaning changed, it is understandable the wish for a change though; but it is not understandable how men should be blamed for all of this.

Often you don't even need to add another pronoun anyway.  Consider these:

"Everyone is entitled to his day in court"

Could be:

"Everyone is entitled to a day in court."

Even your comment in critical analysis to MsSouthernOrchid's "Traces of Life:"

"Choose one person and write about the lines on their face, try to be as specific as possible."

Could be:

"Write about the lines on one's face, and try to be as specific as possible."

We don't have to be grammatically incorrect to get around it.
To me "Their" used in singular sense, grammatically, is always wrong;  even if Shakespeare used it!
  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (09-25-2003 10:12 PM).]

Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


2 posted 09-25-2003 10:19 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Just on the side, found under "werewolf" at dictionary.com:  


"The wer- or were- in wer(e)wulf means “man” it is related to Latin vir with the same meaning, the source of virile and virility. Both the Germanic and the Latin words derive from Indo-European *wro-, “man.” Wer- also appears, though much disguised, in the word world. World is first recorded (written wiaralde) in Old English in a charter dated 832; the form worold occurs in Beowulf. The Old English forms come from Germanic *wer-ald-, “were-eld” or “man-age.” The transfer of meaning from the age of humans to the place where they live has a parallel in the Latin word saeculum, “age, generation, lifetime,” later “world.”


Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
"


So next time you use the word "world" ("were" + "eld") remember it once flatly meant "Man/Male Age"  
I don't know of any "wife-eld" ever being used.

While "Man" and "mankind" that cause gender issues now in english, were quite "unisex" back then.

[This message has been edited by Essorant (09-25-2003 11:11 PM).]

Not A Poet
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since 11-03-1999
Posts 4427
Oklahoma, USA


3 posted 09-25-2003 11:15 PM       View Profile for Not A Poet   Email Not A Poet   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Not A Poet's Home Page   View IP for Not A Poet

Yes, man and mankind have long been gender nonspecific, or unisex as you said. In these times of excessive political correctness though it seems that is no longer the case.

I found the article to be quite interesting and germain. The English language desperately needs a genderless third person pronoun. We do use the singular they extensively in everyday speech. It does seem a shame that it is unacceptable today in writing. There have been literally hundreds of times when I felt very awkward using the cumbersome "he or she" or variants. It often is more comfortable to just rephrase the sentence. But that often comes off as a stilted effort.

Brad, I think you may have stumbled onto something important and even life-changing here

Pete
Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


4 posted 09-25-2003 11:24 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"The English language desperately needs a genderless third person pronoun."

IT  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (09-25-2003 11:27 PM).]

Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


5 posted 09-25-2003 11:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Isn't "one" a genderless pronoun too?


[This message has been edited by Essorant (09-26-2003 12:04 AM).]

Essorant
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since 08-10-2002
Posts 4689
Regina, Saskatchewan; Canada


6 posted 09-26-2003 01:39 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Do you think that God being deemed by most a male may be attributed anything to the general predominance in the history of our language of using male pronouns when referring to a potential or questionable being?  Or do you think that because God is "HE" that may be the main part why we had and sometimes still have tendency more toward the male pronouns?  

If woman had turned out to be author of most Religion, God probably would have been female.  
The female pronouns would be predominantly used and.... men wouldn't be complaining about it  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (09-26-2003 02:14 AM).]

 
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