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Old 03-16-2014, 01:30 PM
 
9,659 posts, read 9,214,118 times
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I have come across a situation which requires anonyimity. If I say the name of the person, or if I refer to them in the non-neutral way, everyone will know who I am referring to.
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Old 03-16-2014, 03:41 PM
 
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"Subject" The subject stole a toothpick and was immediately arrested. Upon arrest, subject pulled toothpick out and stabbed officer. "Individual" and "person" can be pressed into service as well.

It is awkward, but I sometimes use a "they" and ignore the plural nature.
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Old 03-20-2014, 02:47 PM
 
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I would default with a "they." The idea of using a replacement word like subject is also good.
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
30,466 posts, read 32,875,249 times
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Argh! They and them are always plural. Using them as a replacement for singular pronouns is one of my pet peeves.

Is this a fictional piece? Find a gender neutral word that describes what the person is: thief, prowler, burglar, dog walker, kidnapper, pilot ...
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Old 03-21-2014, 12:15 PM
 
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"They and them are always plural. Using them as a replacement for singular pronouns is one of my pet peeves."

Sorry it is a peeve of yours. One of mine is having to remember in French that I have to assign sexuality to every inanimate object no matter how non-sexual it is. Another peeve of mine is that gender appellations are based in historical universal male dominance/female subservient roles. As a rare egalitarian, I find that "proper" usage reinforces concepts that I abhor, so brutally twisting the sex organs of the declensions doesn't bother me as much. At least Twain had the courtesy to lump all guides under "Ferguson" when he wanted to play superiority games.

Hermaphrodism must make you break out in a sweat.
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
67,462 posts, read 62,976,415 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suzy_q2010 View Post
Argh! They and them are always plural. Using them as a replacement for singular pronouns is one of my pet peeves.

Is this a fictional piece? Find a gender neutral word that describes what the person is: thief, prowler, burglar, dog walker, kidnapper, pilot ...
I'm with suzy_q. It's wrong.

I do wish we had a gender-neutral pronoun in our language, though. Typing "he or she" all the time (or "s/he") is awkward.
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:16 PM
 
Location: Cody, WY
10,065 posts, read 12,345,715 times
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That little word he is not necessarily masculine. It can also be common gender. English draws educated usage from Latin in this instance. For example, mus, mouse, is masculine; vulpes, fox, is feminine. Although Latin uses grammaical gender natural gender does matter. So if we known that the name of the mouse is Minnie all of the words that need to agree with mus will be in the feminine form.

Homo, human being (literally) always has masculine (common) antecedents. We did the same thing in English until the age of claptrap.
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:46 PM
 
Location: stuck in the woods with bears and moose
23,112 posts, read 22,174,104 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy in Wyoming View Post
That little word he is not necessarily masculine. It can also be common gender. English draws educated usage from Latin in this instance. For example, mus, mouse, is masculine; vulpes, fox, is feminine. Although Latin uses grammaical gender natural gender does matter. So if we known that the name of the mouse is Minnie all of the words that need to agree with mus will be in the feminine form.

Homo, human being (literally) always has masculine (common) antecedents. We did the same thing in English until the age of claptrap.
Except that usually when we use the masculine form in English we are referring to a male so even though in some instances we want it to be neutral, it still sounds male.

When typing, I use s/he but when speaking, I've almost given up and decided to say "they." I know it's wrong but no one has invented a singular pronoun that covers it.
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Old 03-22-2014, 12:37 AM
 
Location: Georgia, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
Except that usually when we use the masculine form in English we are referring to a male so even though in some instances we want it to be neutral, it still sounds male.

When typing, I use s/he but when speaking, I've almost given up and decided to say "they." I know it's wrong but no one has invented a singular pronoun that covers it.
Often the problem can be avoided by rewording what you are trying to say. I see they used when the subject is obviously only male or only female. All NFL players are male. Use he when you refer to one. Anyone who is pregnant is female. Use she when you refer to a pregnant woman.

If the subject can truly be either male or female, use he. Or, you can arbitrarily choose to use she if you wish. For example: "Your baby may get fussy when she is teething." Another option is to go on and make it plural: "Babies may get fussy when they are teething."

They is plural. One person, male or female, is not they.

Trying to avoid using he or his because it sounds sexist is just silly, and I am female. I also do not care if using they and their as singular forms is making its way into style manuals. It will forever be ungrammatical to me.
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Old 03-22-2014, 11:01 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
26,146 posts, read 34,638,046 times
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We do have a gender neutral pronoun for the singular. That word is "it".

So, which is the least offensive? Calling a person the plural "they", or calling the person an object?
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