Who’s ‘They’? – The New York Times

From last Sunday’s NYT Magazine, called “Who’s They” online and “Multiple Choice” in the dead trees edition:

In December, the Post copy editor Bill Walsh called “they” “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun,” with “sensible” being the key word. The singular “they” gained favor with The Post’s standard-bearer partly because the presumptive “he” “hasn’t been palatable for decades,” but also because a generic “she” feels “patronizing” and “attempts at made-up pronouns” — like “xe,” “xim,” and “xir” — strike Walsh as “silly.”

But then, ten years ago, wouldn’t we have thought “text” as a verb or “blog” as any sort of word at all were silly?   How about “tweet”?   Or earlier, “fax”?  “Email”?

Xe, xim, and xir maybe new, unfamiliar, not-yet-widely-adopted, or (is it just me?) hard to pronounce, but they are not silly.



* Widely-adopted pronoun indicating (among others things) an arrogant, misguided fool.  Example: “Hey, asshole, take a sec to think about the fact that you sound like a cis-privileged old fart before you publish.”

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