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Use of they/them/their as singular, gender-neutral pronouns - Essay Example

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The difference is not only in meaning but also in the way the users organize the various elements of the language such as grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. This paper explores the use of thy/them/their as singular,…
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Use of they/them/their as singular, gender-neutral pronouns
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Download file to see previous pages Over the year, there has been a notable development in the rise of gender, feminist and sexuality in English language and literature. The use of the non-sexist language has become a major issue of study among English language and gender scholars. The use of the masculine pronoun he has been a major issue of controversy as some argue that he/him/his are pronouns, which refers to both genders. The women liberalization movements of 1970’s and increased advocacy of feminism saw the introduction gender-inclusive pronouns such as she or he, she/he and s/he in written and formal English context(Bucholtz 410).
The controversy surrounding non-sexism is not evident for the ordinary English speaking Americans. This is because some of these Americans use the pronoun they instead of he to relate to both genders or as an indefinite pronoun such as “…Somebody left their book on the desk” (Bucholtz 412). Bucholtz observes that the use of they as singular pronouns in formal language is not correct from a prescriptive perspective who argue that the “…epicene they replaces grammatical correctness with political correctness” (412). Feminists, however, support the use of they as a singular gender neutral pronoun in written formal contexts with the arguments that the pronoun has a long historical background dating to the development stages of the English language together with other gender neutral pronouns he/she.
The history of the use of the singular pronoun they in the English language and literature date back to the 16th century. Warende observes that it was common in the early “…works of Addison, Austen, Fielding, Chesterfield, Ruskin, and Scott…” (106). In fact, the English dictionary seems to affirm its use by stating that “…this violation of grammatical concord sometimes necessary…" due to the absence of a clear singular epicene pronoun (106). However, Warende observes that the use of the singular pronoun they has been associated with a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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