>Karen--here's my response to the suggestion that we create new pronouns.
>You might enjoy it.
>>So, let's create some new pronouns! Participate in Michelle Gale-Sinex's
>>evolution-of-language idea. I suggest "esh" (for he and she -- the fact
>>that esh is she-scrambled is accidental; it does include all the letters
>>equally), and "ris" (for his and hers).
>Speakers of English worldwide are already solving this singular
>gender-specific pronoun problem. In publications, even those of
>educational institutions, and in broadcast and live conversations, we now
>regularly use THEY, THEM, and THEIR as non-gendered, non-specific, singular
>pronouns. For example, "Advisors: be sure to remind each student to get
>their op-scan signed by Tuesday." As much as this usage irritates those of
>us who like the nice mathematical balance in subject-verb agreement (not a
>universal language feature), I think popular usage is way ahead of the
>academy on this one. The popular solution is too elegant, simple,
>immediately recognizable, widely used, and clear to be put back in the
>bottle. Centuries ago, speakers of English abandoned the historically
>Singular/Intimate forms THOU, THEE, THY, and THINE in favor of what used to
>be a Plural/Public form YOU, YOU, YOUR, and YOURS. YOU is now singular and
>plural, intimate and public. Whether we like it or not, we're turning the
>historically plural THEY into HE/SHE/IT/ONE/THEY. Ouch, yes, THEY-singular
>hurts our ears, as my mother used to say whenver my grandmother used that
>eloquent and ancient word "ain't." However, it works.
>And if we think that getting academics to accept this popular solution is
>about as likely as getting a Virginia farmer to learn Tohono O'odham in
>order to talk about/to their garden/farm, we might instead give some
>thought to applying the creative nature of language to our nouns and verbs.
>After all, we now have the verbs TO PROGRAM and TO ACCESS, unthinkable a
>generation ago, when PROGRAM and ACCESS were nouns. We can't change our
>subject-verb grammar any more than we can change gravity, but we can
>develop verbs that express the values we want to bring forward. Are there
>nouns or adjectives that reflect sustenance rather than operation? Turn'em
>into verbs and start substituting them for the verbs that reflect a
>do-it-to-the-earth attitude. That kind of language change happens every
>English Department Writing Program
>Dept. of English
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