A gender-neutral pronoun is a pronoun that is not associated with any gender. It designates two distinct grammatical phenomena, the first being pronouns/periphrastics that have been assigned nontraditional meanings in modern times out of a concern for gender equity, and the second being genderless pronouns that occur traditionally in human languages. Most languages do not have gender distinctions in personal pronouns.
In some languages — notably most Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic and a number of Niger–Congo languages — some personal pronouns intrinsically distinguish male from female; the selection of a pronoun necessarily specifies, at least to some extent, the gender of what is referred. Traditionally, the masculine form has been taken to be the unmarked form, that is the form to be used unless it is known to be inappropriate. This has dictated the masculine pronoun in cases such as
- reference to an indefinite person, for example: "If anybody comes, tell him"
- reference to a group containing men and women, for example French: Vos amis sont arrivés — ils étaient en avance. ("Your friends have arrived — they were early") uses the French masculine plural pronoun "ils" instead of the feminine "elles" but in English both translate to "they".
Since as early as 1795, this property has led to the call for gender-neutral pronouns. Attempts to invent pronouns for this purpose date back at least to 1850.
Many languages allow the speaker to specify whether one is talking about a male or female, whereas other languages do not require the speaker to make that choice as an intrinsic part of the language. In some languages, pronouns do not distinguish between genders, so gender equity of pronouns is not relevant. This category includes the Austronesian languages, many East Asian languages (see below) as well as the Uralic languages.
Read more about Gender-neutral Pronoun: Armenian, Maithili, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Nepali, Chinese, Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, German, Hebrew, Irish, Japanese, Kiswahili, Korean, Malay and Indonesian, Mongolian, Nahuatl, Persian, Philippine Languages, Romance Languages, Russian Language, Swedish Language, Turkic Languages, Uralic Languages
Other articles related to "pronouns":
... All pronouns are gender-neutral ... The third-person singular and plural personal pronouns are hän and he in Finnish, tema (ta) and nemad (nad) in Estonian and ő and ők in Hungarian, respectively ...
Famous quotes containing the word pronoun:
“Would mankind be but contented without the continual use of that little but significant pronoun mine or my own, with what luxurious delight might they revel in the property of others!... But if envy makes me sicken at the sight of everything that is excellent out of my own possession, then will the sweetest food be sharp as vinegar, and every beauty will in my depraved eyes appear as deformity.”
—Sarah Fielding (17101768)