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Genderless Pronouns...

Is there any such thing and does there need to be?

You may have run across a list of gender-neutral pronouns like this:

  • He/She -- Zie, Sie, Ey, Ve, Tey, E
  • Him/Her -- Zim, Sie, Em, Ver, Ter, Em
  • His/Her -- Zir, Hir, Eir, Vis, Tem, Eir
  • His/Hers -- Zis, Hirs, Eirs, Vers, Ters, Eirs
  • Himself/Herself -- Zieself, Hirself, Eirself, Verself, Terself, Emself

Another approach to gender-neutral pronouns has been to use a plural form, such as "Them," "They," "Their".

Singer Sam Smith surprised his fans recently by saying.

Just call me the non-binary 'they'...

Twitter, Instagram, and other social media went ballistic, of course. In a Fresh Air piece on NPR, Geoff Nunberg makes an interesting historical argument for taking Sam Smith (and others of course) seriously. He points out they 'they' has been in use as a singular pronoun for centuries. Jane Austin did it frequently, he says, citing the example:

"No one can ever be in love more than once in their life."

Nunberg notes that use of the singular "they" has gradually been restored to written language; and that it's acceptable in both AP's Style Guide and the American Heritage Dictionary.

Sam's quotes can be found, like... um, everywhere!!