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Gender Pronouns

Note: This letter to the editor was first published, in a slightly varied form in the March 2000 Issue (Vol. 23, No. 3) of The Editorial Eye, Pg. 12.

While I am delighted to find that there are others out there who are for taking the initiative to invent a new, gender neutral pronoun system, I wonder if Al Lippart, author of "A Knight for Equality in Deity" (Editorial Eye, Vol. 22, No. 11, Pg. 7), shouldn't have taken his solution one step further.

The problem, as I see it, with his ne/nis/ner/nemself is that the vowels lend themselves to confusion with our already existing pronouns, inviting even more pseudo-psychological spelding by those who are not yet convinced that it isn't the sequence of certain letters that transmits evil opinions, but the thoughts behind the words. Take Mr. Lippart's neutral possessive pronoun, "nis." I can't help but wonder if, since the chosen vowel comes from the masculine version of the possessive, we wouldn't be supporting the idea that men are the greedy, aggressive gender. Or perhaps it only exemplifies the idea that men think that everything belongs to them. Even more fun, though, is the reflexive pronoun, "nemself," which allows a language-lover with a very long commute (such as myself) to play with the significance behind the differentiating vowel, which comes from the feminine, preceding the differentiating consonant, which comes from the masculine.

My suggestion is that we use a gender neutral letter: "u." This would change the list to:

Subjective, nu (pronounced, "new")

Possessive, nus (pronounced, "noose")

Objective, nur (pronounced, "manure")

Reflexive, numself (pronounced, "numb self")


It may not be perfect, but I think we might be on the right track (at least with the thoughts behind the words). I, however, will continue to favor my own invention, which is the one-size-fits-all aggregate, "heorsheit," despite the fact that it breaks with Mr. Lippart's criteria by relying on current usage, as well as being mistakable, phonics-wise, with another word in English.

Justin Katz