# Singular "they".

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by mathman, Jul 2, 2022.

1. ### O. W. GrantRegistered Senior Member

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170
Hi,

Turkish language

On page 7 of the grammar:
"...
Nouns do not have different genders - you do not have to remember whether a thing is masculine or feminine like you do in French or German.
..."

Turkish pronouns, p. 31

ben/biz
I/we
sen/siz
you(informal)/you
o/onlar
he, she, it/they

- - -

to be - imek (infinitive), p. 32

In present tense forms of to be are omitted. Only verb endings are there.
Ben Ingilizim.
Sen Ingilizsin.
O Ingiliz. (he, she is English)
= = =

they (pron.)
https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=they

Last edited: Jul 15, 2022

3. ### Michael 345New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldlValued Senior Member

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What happened to that International Language push some time ago?

Any idea how it tackled gender it's form?

5. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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About as poorly as you might imagine, with rigid gendering and a lack of vagary.

7. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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7,972
What is the range of genders? With sexual orientation it's basically straight, gay or bi, right? Bi seems to be a sliding scale for many. For gender orientation there is male, female and transgender with transgender being a feeling that your body sex and gender are mismatched.

Bi is essentially "both" but with a different weighting for many it seems. Transgender would seem to be fairly unambiguous (born in the wrong body) but that's not the only way it's used. There is the case of gender fluidity.

Many people who use "they" as a personal pronoun don't feel that they are (for example) a woman in a man's body. Is it fair to say that they just aren't comfortable with who they are (regarding non-binary gender) or is it that they may be comfortable but just don't see themselves as a man or a woman?

I though gender was mainly a cultural thing. If you feel that you are a woman in a man's body, that deserves a medical distinction. I guess I don't get non-binary gender?

If gender is cultural, why label it? Many people may get married and have a "traditional" wedding. Others may just go to the justice of the peace as a legal requirement and not really care about the ceremony. Others may just live together and not get married. Those people just aren't as "traditional" in that culture.

We don't try to have a label for them as a person. If someone is born in a male body, is attracted to females, doesn't discuss sports frequently, wears khaki pants and cloth jackets instead of jeans and a leather jacket. Is that not a male gender. Is it non-binary? No, of course not.

What exactly is a non-binary gender and why do we even need a label for that? I have googled this and most articles spend all of the effort describing what to call them and not why we should call them something different or what exactly is different.

Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
8. ### Michael 345New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldlValued Senior Member

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Thanks for that

9. ### sculptorValued Senior Member

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8,320
ok
they is, or may be totally fucking insane
It is said that neurotics build castles in the sky and psychotics live in them.
"They" is a special case in point
neither male nor female
All of the "theys" I've know about were assigned female at birth(know of any others?)
so.........................................
is this a specific "gender" thing?
Why is "they"
unwilling to accept the specific gender assigned at birth
What is it that "they" wishes to refuse to accept?

10. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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You forgot asexual. And I think there are a few others.

11. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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7,972
OK, but my question was about gender. What exactly is non-binary gender and why do we need a label for that? I'm not concerned with "they" and transexuals. What is a non-binary gender? If gender is largely a culturally determined thing in the first place what are we even talking about with non-binary gender?

12. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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17,124
Sure. I was simply adding to your comment "sexual orientation it's basically straight, gay or bi".

Who exactly is "we" here?

You and me? Cis-gendered, hetero breeders?

The whole problem with privilege, historically - (whether it be white privilege, male privilege, wealth privilege, hetero privilege or etc.) - is a bunch of people deciding for a bunch of other people what "we" all need.

Anyone who does not identify as male or as female. Those are pretty culturally ingrained, and come a lot with a lot of baggage.
Many people feel they're artificial constraints whose primary purpose is to oppress (see above privilege, deciding what's best for all "we").

13. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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Where does "privilege" come in? Let's say you are married and I'm not. Let's say (for sake of argument) that most people are married. Are you 'privileged"? Do I need a label for not married? It's up to me right, and not you? Still, even if it's just up to me, why would I need a label?

Most people drink coffee. I've never had coffee. Do I need a label? It's up to me but I still don't need a label. Society isn't holding me back or persecuting me because I don't drink coffee.

If I don't feel like society's version of a "male", so what? No one is persecuting anyone for being "non-binary". No one even knows.

It's not about the pronoun "they" to me, in this case. I just don't understand the issue. As I said, you can even Google non-binary gender and you still aren't likely to get the answer to my question. You just get what to call such a person and not what the actual distinction is. What is non-binary gender when gender, itself is just a cultural norm?

What does being a white, cisgendered male have to do with it (or anything else)? It's good to try to be inclusive as a society but apparently you can try too hard. To the point where no one can even answer my question with any kind of logic.

Again, to be clear, even though "they" can be confusing regarding its single vs plural nature, that's not the point (my point). If a transgendered person wants "they" as a personal pronoun, great. A person who feels that they were born in the wrong body is sufficiently different to justify some additional understanding by society particularly when society hasn't always treated such a category of people very well.

Gender on the other hand is cultural. Non-binary gender doesn't mean much, isn't obvious, doesn't seem like something that needs "protecting" and isn't even really a "thing". If you are a woman and don't like wearing dresses every day but do feel like doing so sometimes, great. You don't need a label. It's not because it's you and not me.

I don't need such a label either. I don't like wearing a tie and a suit. I'll do it when I have to but otherwise I'm good. If society wants me to wear a suit everyday and I don't want to, so what? This doesn't require a label. Non-binary, fluid gender is silly unless a better argument is out there than I have seen, IMO.

Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
14. ### Neddy BateValued Senior Member

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2,409
Your device tells you, "Someone has sent you a message"

Then it prompts, "Would you like to reply to them?"

Would anyone prefer for it to prompt, "Would you like to reply to him or her?"

If so, why?

15. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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37,148
"Would you like to reply?" ought to be sufficient.

Once upon a time, it would have been, "Reply?"

We humanize the interface for our own emotional needs.

(Anecdote: I actually know someone who asks her phone, "Siri, what is the score of the baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers?" I generally don't use Siri for that kind of stuff, but I do know, "Seattle Mariners score," will suffice; most days, "Mariners score," will work.)

16. ### C CConsular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy"Valued Senior Member

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Contingently depends on whether the national or regional government -- or simply the surrounding cultural environment -- rewards one for being married, in contrast to singles and unmarried couples, and the latter feels aggrieved about it from their perspective.

The concept that the word "privilege" represents (as one token or label for it), has a historically extended academic pedigree.

Back in the 18th-century, when the left school of thought was born, it was the aristocracy that occupied the privileged slot and the peasants who occupied the victim slot, culminating in the French Revolution. In the 19th-century, those philosophical influences propagated to cognitive discernment of capitalist bourgeoisie oppressing the proles, and so-forth iterations of the grievance paradigm and social struggle.

But with the New Left transition of the '60s and early '70s, the "systemic oppression conspiracy" movement expanded from social class fixation to being the savior ideology for multiple varieties of population group classifications (race, ethnicity, sexual divisions and attractions, etc). The latter focus was arguably always there to some extent, but overshadowed by traditional class struggle up until then.

Long after Marxism leftangelicalism came to America, Du Bois clarified the white version of "privilege" in the 1930s. [Hey, it's the CPUSA's own site -- blame them for being easily satisfied with a late 1961 acceptance of the "faith". Better to get fully on Uncle Karl's bandwagon at the last minute, than never.] Providing one of the foundations for whiteness studies.

Du Bois also advocated that African-Americans had a "privileged" perspective, but it's not the same category of meaning (choice of words coincidence):

Second Sight
https://iep.utm.edu/web-dubois/#H4

Peggy McIntosh elaborated on privilege in 1988 with her paper "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies", which refined the conception to forty-six kinds of white slash male privilege.

Abrahamic theology introduced the idea of sin or its consequences that everyone needed to be saved from. That God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the priest, or whatever rescues one from.

Leftangelicalism seemingly introduced the idea of perpetual oppression that _X_ population group(s) needs to be saved from. Need the mediators of that ideological genre to rescue _X_ from (apparently endlessly, or with "resets" for later generations: Progressophobia? Nah...).

Which is to say, opportunistic do-gooders at the elite level have to stay in business -- whether religious or secular, philosophical yarn-spinners or entertainment industry poseurs or corporate virtue-signalers (politicians a blatant non-necessity to have to mention).

Last edited: Jul 16, 2022
17. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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17,124
Yes. Inasmuch as society caters to that.

True story:
One of my wife's closest friends raised her boy on her own. The two of them are each others' only family. In school, the kids were given an assignment to draw their family. They were given a template that had father, mother, child 1 and child 2 and told to colour them in. What could the boy do but draw a big black x through father?

What is the takeaway for this vulnerable kid? "A family consists of a father and a mother and children. You are different. You are in the margins."

A wise person once said: "Privilege isn't about the privileged being given a hand out or hand up. Privilege is about moving smoothly through life without encountering the roadblocks that the unprivileged encounter".

Privilege is invisible to the privileged. That's why the privileged tend to think it's bunk.

Privilege is
- getting through a job interview without having to answer the question "I see you're young and female. Do you plan to get pregnant?"
- walking into a Starbucks without being spotted as a black person and being asked "what's your business here?"
- being in a child-birthing class that talks about "mommy and daddy" without hearing them mutter "sorry, and um I guess - other mom? Non-breeding mom? Um".
- being able to fill out a form and tick the box that identifies your gender without having to scratch in box that says "other".
- getting through your formative years without more than 27% of your community attempting suicide.

18. ### Janus58Valued Senior Member

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2,301
Whereas, in Finnish, it is the pronouns that tend to be omitted, as the the verb endings are changed to reflect the pronoun.
To be - olla
I am - olen
You are - olet (sing.)
You are - ollette (plural/formal)
we are - olemme
He/she/it is olee
They are/ ovat

The exceptions to dropping the pronoun occur with the last two

It - se
So you would say "hän olee" or "se olee" to to distinguish if you are talking about a person or not.
likewise, you would use "he ovat" or "ne ovat" to make the same type of distinction.

O. W. Grant likes this.
19. ### sideshowbobSorry, wrong number.Valued Senior Member

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Back in the 70s, a bunch of us were filling out a university form when one of the girls said, "Hey, we shouldn't have to check 'male' or 'female'." I had already checked mine so I went back and checked the other one too.

20. ### Michael 345New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldlValued Senior Member

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As a male nurse, at a time when not many of us around, I was given my DYMO name tag MALE NURSE

Didn't think anything of it and still don't. If I was given it today I would wear it

Tags I saw in hospital, as a patient, now are professionally made with name of hospital and your given name

Never thought to ask if having your given name on tag was optional and / or could you opt for NURSE to be displayed

21. ### DaveC426913Valued Senior Member

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Of course! You identify as a male.

What if you were a steward on a commercial jet, but all the nametags said 'stewardess', and of course every wisecracking passenger couldn't resist making a joke about the "five o'clock shadow" on this woman?

How long before you said 'hey, maybe I could get a proper nametag that didn't make me the butt of every joke'?

22. ### SeattleValued Senior Member

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7,972

I understand why. Logically, it's hard to defend.

Regarding privilege, it's one of those concepts that is true but meaningless or probably more specifically it's just life and when applied in a hypersensitive way, it just creates victims without helping anyone.

It's like telling someone, of course you aren't doing well, you are a black, female who didn't have a father growing up. Sure, you aren't educated and have 5 kids and your boyfriend sells drugs but you didn't grow up with a father.

Is that really the issue? I didn't grow up with a father (he died when I was 3). Three of my four grandparents were dead before I was born. My mother was 10 years older than most of the other parents, money was adequate but tight.

Is any of that something that I need to use as an excuse or is any of that anything that "society" needs to understand about me? That's life, everyone's circumstances are different.

That's not to ignore that someone that is black in America has issues to face that many others don't. That's obvious but hypersensitivity regarding "privilege" isn't helpful, IMO.

It's the same with hypersensitivity to "non-binary gender". Let's focus on male/female/trans and straight/bi/gay. Non-binary gender is more in the category of self-indulgent. "Privilege" is often (but not always) the same, IMO.

When people whose family income is over $150k are complaining about the high cost of education and yet families making less than$60k are able to send their kids to school, the concept is being abused.

You could make \$500k a year and spend it all on a mansion and expensive cars and still not be able to afford to send your kids to school. "We" are bending over backward to offer everyone an excuse rather than focusing on what the best course of action would be given their circumstances.

If you are black, living in a single parent home in the inner cities the best course of action would be to move. Hearing constant talk of "white privilege" isn't helping anyone.

I grew up "poor" and without a father. That isn't the issue. It's the values in your home and in your community and how you use what money you do have. There is always someone with more money, more "privilege" but that's life. Dwelling on it isn't a solution for anyone nor is blaming the rich.

What I see is frequently well-intentioned but it's also a race to the bottom, IMO.

23. ### mathmanValued Senior Member

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Naive interpretation: ho or she refers to body shape, not sexual orientation. Gay man is he, lesbian woman is she.