by Xujun Eberlein
There have been at least 18 recent tweets about the fact that English has no grammatically correct substitutes for words like "he," "him," and "his" that do not have a gender implied.
Consider the sentence "Everyone loves his mother." The word "his" may be seen as both sexist and inaccurate, but replacing it with "his or her" seems cumbersome, and "they" is grammatically incorrect.
Read the complete CNN report here.
What's your take? What is the word we need and want?
(Interestingly, in written Chinese, there isn't such a gender-neutral pronoun either.)
What we need (and what we already have), is "singular they": 'Everyone loves their mother'. It is not grammatically incorrect in any way, and is in common usage by almost every speaker of English. Some linguistic analysis:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_theyhttp://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003572.htmlhttp://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?cat=27
If we were construing a new word, I would offer "eir" as it has linguistic and sonic components of "her" and "their". It seems to fit in the brainfolds where a possessive fits, with a kind of androgynous ease.
Interestingly, in written Chinese, there isn't such a gender-neutral pronoun either__________________________________No, that would only be true for Chinese after the 5.4 cultural movement, which was under heavy influence of western culture. In canonical Chinese, there won't be any trouble. Qi其, Yi伊 etc are all gender-neutral.
@Gerard - Interesting, I didn't know there was a singular their.But this does not solve all the situations. For example, in the phrase: "An expat living in China usually gets paid better than his Chinese peers"I run into these kind of obstacles very often because my mother tongue doesn't have the gender distinction in this case. So I can understand Chinese writers very well :)
Rocking, do you think 伊 yi should be back in use in modern Chinese?
Er, my previous comment was a bit illogical, I just realize now that Chinese IS like English in this way, and unlike Spanish.So in the example above "eveyone loves his mother" how would it be solved in (modern) Chinese? Can you use: 它的？ Or 自己的？
Uln, you were not wrong in the sense that spoken Chinese has the same pronunciation for all the "ta"s. So we at least don't have the problem as English does when we talk. :-) In your example, '自己的' is most often used. '它的' is wrong as 它 is not used on human.
Isnt it:Everyon loves THIER mother?
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