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Re: Being excellent to one another

From: Alex Sassmannshausen
Subject: Re: Being excellent to one another
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2017 09:57:04 +0100
User-agent: mu4e 0.9.18; emacs 25.1.1

John Darrington writes:

> On Sun, Mar 19, 2017 at 07:57:07PM -0700, address@hidden wrote:
>      On Sun, 19 Mar 2017 17:40:27 -0500
>      Christopher Allan Webber <address@hidden> wrote:
>      > The important thing is to not assume someone's preferred pronouns
>      > without knowing them.  Singular they isn't your only option; I also
>      > happen to like Spivak pronouns:
>      >
>      >
>      The problem here is that I'd be suprised if many people have even heard
>      about these. I used to play MUDs quite a bit and have /never/ heard any
>      of those. They are certainly not a part of common usage, and I'd say
>      should be avoided for something more standard (them et al). It's a nice
>      idea, but overall seems like it would cause confusion, and probably
>      more than a few "Hey, there is a typo in the manual"-type bugs than
>      anything.
>      At least, if I picked up a random bit of documentation and saw things
>      like "e" used constantly, I'd assume it was a typo and not some archaic
>      gender-neutral pronoun.
> [...]

> When writing texts, such as this email, and absolutely  *have* to use a 
> personal
> definite pronoun, I default to "she" because whereas vigilantes will pounce 
> upon
> you whenever they see "he" (ironically those people are invariably male), I've
> never had anyone complain when "she" occurs where the gender of the subject
> might well be masculine.
> ... and yes.  If an individual specifically requests to be referred to by
> a partcular set of pronouns I will attempt to do so, but may occasionally
> forget if that person wants feminine pronouns and is 6'4" and has an enormous
> black wiry beard.

[I really don't know what your intention is with that last paragraph — I
will just ignore it, as I wouldn't want to ascribe malice…]

John, really, it's super easy:
- if you're not sure (or have forgotten), use "singular they", or ask
- if you know someone has a preference for pronouns, use those
- don't use pronouns when *you know* the other person does not identify
  with them.

If you make a mistake, no-one will tear your head off — it may well feel
like an awkward social faux pas to you, but, c'est la vie! And an
apology will show your intention was not malicious.

In manuals we can just use "singular they", because it is a well
established convention and does not cause confusion.

Someone who's learning English as a second language would hopefully have
been exposed to "singular they" in their class.  If not, they should ask
for their money back.

Regardless, it would be great for our manual to introduce them to
this lovely convention that is so widely used.



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