If a pronoun is used in the forest….

…will someone still take offence on the social mejias?

I can’t be bothered to post links to the latest pronoun fuckwittery, you can find your own examples anyway. There’s a new one every day, “large organisation mandates pronoun declarations from employees: ridicule ensues”.

A bank in the UK, a civil service department in Sydney. Rinse and repeat.

It’s all red meat for whichever team you support. If you’ve got a libertarian streak, it’s yet another imposition by the wifi password people. If you think the Guardian reports news, it’s a litmus test to flush out the bigots and all the xPhobe Nazis.

The question we never hear asked is, when was the last time you used someone’s pronoun in their presence?

He/him, she/her/ zhe/zim, etc., are words we’d mainly use about someone when they aren’t there.

In fact, many people consider it rude to use pronouns when the subject is in the room. When I was a child, if I said to my father, “she”, about my mother whilst in her presence, she’d angrily ask, “who’s she; the cat’s mother?”.

No, I’ve no idea what that meant either but I bloody well knew I was in trouble.

Now we have the internet I have learned it was/is a very common saying. Basically, use their damn name you rude bugger:

A mild reproof, especially to a child, for impolite use of the pronoun she when a person’s name would have been more well mannered.

Bill’s Opinion

I’d like to think I was brought up well. I try to be polite to strangers unless they’ve done something to deserve otherwise.

If you give me your name on a phone call or if it’s on a badge on your jacket, I will try to use it whenever appropriate. Your pronouns seem somewhat irrelevant to me, therefore.

In fact, if I were to talk about you to your colleague in a subsequent interaction, I’d also use your name. If I couldn’t remember it, I’d say “your colleague”.

It feels like a backward and irrelevant step to spend so much time talking about pronouns, given I and many others would be very unlikely to have ever needed them.

What people should remember however, is the same people who were taught these manners are also from the same stock who are the world’s politest people until the precise moment they become the opposite. Maybe keep that in mind when making demands on our language, they.

5 Replies to “If a pronoun is used in the forest….”

  1. I used to cop “she is the cat’s mother” on a fairly regular basis too. The pronoun thing is just another virtue signal/I support the current thing! Like danger hair, I use it as an indicator of whether the person is a knucklehead or not.

    1. Sadly, there’s a lot I know who are doing it who are otherwise sound. Ex military types, for example.

      I’m afraid it may be a form of fear.

  2. It can occasionally be useful if (as is increasingly common) the person has some foreign name and you don’t know whether they are male or female. When referring to them in future correspondence it’s useful to know whether Aki Wolomolewu is a he or a she when complaining to their boss the s/he didn’t answer your query.

    Pronouns all seem rather trivial, until one considers that insisting on a form of address is a qualitatively different form of language control. Reluctantly, I accept that there are words that I ought not to use under certain circumstances. They are proscribed. But prescribed words – insisting that I use them – is a new step towards control. If anyone tries this, they should be told that my preferred pronouns, which I absolutely insist they must use, are “White Massa” or “God hates queers”.

    1. In the past, “To whom it may concern” or, “Dear sir or madam”.

      Amazingly, people before us did actually solve this problem.

  3. I have started to use ‘they’ in conversation, as I have found it useful when offering a view on a particular person’s behaviour/work outcomes etc.

    It works for me, as it takes gender out of the initial discussion, which can be seen as a partial surrender to the ideology, but will also ensure that the whole question of gender (particularly when the subject is unknown by the other party to the conversation) needs to be raised by that other party.

    But it is really only for fun.

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