The lovely and talented Ronosaurus Rex (author of the finely edited book Narrative Madness) has written an argument for the use of “they” as a generic singular pronoun: “A Case for the Singular They as a Genderless Pronoun in Formal Speech and Writing.” The Chronicle of Higher Education has also recently covered the idea a few times in the recent past, largely agreeing with Professor Rex, as do I—recasting around the pronoun can affect shades of meaning, and “they” is already in common use in non-formal language (and has been so for centuries). (RR also discusses the use of “they” as a pronoun for agender people; we will comment on that usage, as well as some gender-related neologisms and current debates, in future posts.)
Books by Ronosaurus Rex (Ronald B. Richardson):
#Abstract, available at Blurb
Narrative Madness, available at Amazon (coming soon in dead tree format!)
3 thoughts on “The Great Singular 'They' Debate”
In spoken Mandarin there is no gender assignation for pronouns him/her (ta), which I like. Though I do find gender indicated pronouns helpful in writing to distinguish who are you are referring to. Maybe that’s a sign my sentences are just too long.