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SuperJail Warden
Gone Forever
+507|2837
Marines are considering changing their policy in order to recruit people in high demand fields like cyber security. One of the things they may do away with is boot camp for their cyber warriors. Turns out nerds don't want to go through boot camp or any of that other nonsense.

This has upset many people.
https://i.imgur.com/xsoGn9X.jpg
Larssen
Member
+71|1005
How does our resident english literature graduate feel about the singular they?

I had no idea this was a thing.
DesertFox-
The very model of a modern major general
+767|5802|United States of America
I don't know why people suddenly started making a big fuss about it. In school, we were taught to use "he or she" if gender of the subject in a sentence was unknown, which is just very clunky, so I've been using singular they forever and am a big fan of it. It is far newer to me to hear of someone nonbinary preferring it as their pronoun, so that takes a bit getting used to, but it's all still pretty reasonable.
unnamednewbie13
Moderator
+1,936|5889|USA

Larssen wrote:

How does our resident english literature graduate feel about the singular they?

I had no idea this was a thing.
I find it surprising that a European bureaucrat would be unaware of this stuff.

re: singular 'they,' much as DF said. "He or she" feels clunky. "His and hers" gets away with it to some extent due to its presence in marketing. "Dear sir or madam," almost painfully formal. "Is the man of the house in?" can probably be safely disposed of as a little dated.

English is still sort of developing on these gendered adjectives. People inventing entirely new words for this sort of thing to the annoyance of purists. "They" is rather benign.

Evolving language, blah blah blah.
uziq
Member
+426|2570

Larssen wrote:

How does our resident english literature graduate feel about the singular they?

I had no idea this was a thing.
language changes and i have no great care about it. i need to be prescriptive in my job, for reasons of standards and consistency, but i'm fine with language-as-social-instrument being 'descriptive', i.e. open, labile, accommodating to changes.

using 'their' as a neutral gender designation is incredibly common in formal writing and always has been. '"i went to the store and bought some nice new hormone pills", they said', doesn't exactly raise any major grammatical parsing issues with me.
unnamednewbie13
Moderator
+1,936|5889|USA

I feel like the context for a lot of this stuff can be really obvious. Insisting on binary language only because "it's the only way we can be sure," a bit of a strange hill to die on. Silly crutch and much mockable by languages with less dressing than English. "We know what you mean because we're not fucking retarded."
uziq
Member
+426|2570
i really don't understand how 'cultural conservatives' have so much cathexis about the 'issue' of pronouns.

if someone i'm interacting with wants me to refer to them only as Zorb, in the singular, plural and plenipotential, then ... ok? it doesn't affect my life in any way and i'm happy to oblige if i want to hold an ordinary, civil discourse with them.

conservatives have this weird attitude where they want to be left alone with their own interests, with their own negative liberties, but then take an exorbitant interest in how an entirely different community use language and refer to one another. does it kill you to make your vocal chords/tongue/mouth/lips form a different shape and utter a different pronoun in order to be polite to someone, or what? poor little snowflakes.

even if this is just an ephemeral blip, a momentary cultural fascination with no lasting benefits or change, well then so what? a certain subset of people in the 70s referred to one another as 'cat' and 'dude' and don't do so any longer. what harm did it do? maybe it'll effect meaningful change and the recognition of gender fluidity; maybe it'll seem as dated as the english 'thou' in a few decades. so it goes. it's just language.

this may seem unbelievable, as my main purpose of being on this forum is to flay and skin dilbertius the dumb every single day, but i'm actually perfectly cordial and civil in real life. i think language should facilitate healthy, productive discussion. if someone wants to use a third pronoun or wants to be referred to as a woman in ordinary speech, that's fine with me. the pronouns thing really barely even glances the debate/topic of transgenderism. there are much more interesting things to talk about on that topic.
unnamednewbie13
Moderator
+1,936|5889|USA

It's been the language of conservative media for much of many adult's living memory, more than enough time for talk show hosts to get their hooks into the minds of people half listening. Like hypnosis tapes that make you irate against lesbian teachers. It's hard to draw a connection for a conservative between conservatives wanting to be left alone and everyone else wanting to be left alone, because they didn't become angry at everyone else by applying reason or argumentation. A lot of these people are walking triggers waiting to be pulled. Go onto a Republican forum and type something good about AOC.

I'm fine with people wanting to be addressed by preferred pronouns (even if I think the pronoun is silly) just so long as they don't get bent out of shape if someone forgets or doesn't get it right the first time. Him/her/etc. are still perfectly good pronouns and it would make me sad to always default to they/them for the sake of "not assuming gender," and then still make some people angry for getting it wrong.
Larssen
Member
+71|1005
I'd be lying if I said that the first video I saw in which someone stated 'you can call me they' didn't strike me as odd. A little hilarious even, as my immediate association was that they're* implying that there's multiple personalities in there. I suppose since none of us grew up explicitly learning about gender-fluidity or gender-fluid pronouns besides the neutral 'it', this might leave people a little surprised at first. I also wondered about the grammar of it all, but ah well. It barely matters so I agree.

I think in the conservative mind it's probably part of the broader irate rage against transgenderism and gender fluidity discussions in media. Female to male athletes, gender neutral bathrooms, the whole gender identity discussion, use of language, if all this should be taught in the classroom + the political dimension of it all. I suppose it's a feeling that these new narratives are infringing on 'the order of things'. It also triggers very basic identity formation processes - all of us are always navigating our way through defined in and out groups, and the theme of transgenderism is also embedded in overarching political conflicts about how the 'in' group should function and who 'we' are. It's a constant theme in the last decades/centuries that the traditional perceived boundaries of our collective identities are stretched and changed. Particularly in the last decades focus has been on accepting many more collective identities within a single society and equalising the playing field among them. That's never a peaceful process.

It doesn't help that transgenderism is honestly a very complex topic. Just a while ago I read an article in the economist about a female to male transitioner who transitioned back from male to female again a few years later. There's also the people who have no defined gender at all. None of this is easy to explain and the unfamiliarity of it is sure to have some negative responses.

Last edited by Larssen (2021-11-27 02:48:03)

uziq
Member
+426|2570
pronouns shift all the time. they’re one of the most substitutable parts of syntax. as long as everyone knows what you’re pointing towards, does it matter?

we don’t call our elders ‘sir’ or refer to young ‘master’s anymore. does it actually fucking matter?

‘their’/‘they’ have always been neutral forms of address. not sure if it’s just your non-native perspective that gives it a tin-ear aspect.
Larssen
Member
+71|1005
I had to google tin-ear
uziq
Member
+426|2570
teach you something every day.

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