LINGUIST List 3.282

Mon 23 Mar 1992

Disc: A List of Common Gender Pronouns

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  1. Dennis Baron, common gender pronouns

Message 1: common gender pronouns

Date: Fri, 20 Mar 92 9:48:07 CSTcommon gender pronouns
From: Dennis Baron <>
Subject: common gender pronouns

In view of the interest in the common gender pronoun I am enclosing
a list summarizing my findings to date on the state of proposals
dealing with the issue. It is a longish list, and you may prefer
not printing it, in which case I will be happy to send it to anyone
who is interested.

 The Epicene Pronouns:
 A Chronology of the Word That Failed

 Dennis Baron

 Professor of English and Linguistics
 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

ca. 1850 ne, nis, nim; hiser NY Commercial Advertiser, 7
 August 1884, 3.

 1868 en Cited by Richard Grant White. The Galaxy, August,

 1884 thon, thons Charles Crozat Converse. The Critic, 2
 August, 55.

 hi, hes, hem Francis H. Williams. The Critic, 16
 August, 79-80.

 le, lis, lim (from the French); unus; talis Edgar
 Alfred Stevens. The Current, 30 August, 294.

 hiser, himer (hyser, hymer) Charles P. Sherman. The
 Literary World, 6 September, 294.

 ip, ips Emma Carleton. The Current, 20 September,

 1888 ir, iro, im (sg.); tha, thar, them (pl.) Elias Molee,
 Plea for an American Language (Chicago: John
 Anderson), 200-01.

 1889 ons (from one) C.R.B. Writer 3: 231

 1890 e (from he), es, em (from them) James Rogers of
 Crestview, Florida. Writer 4: 12-13

 1891 hizer Forrest Morgan. Writer 5: 260-62.

 ith George Winslow Pierce. The Life-Romance of an
 Algebraist (Boston: J.G. Cupples), 35.

 1912 he'er, him'er, his'er, his'er's Ella Flagg Young.
 Chicago Tribune, 7 January, 1:7.

 1914 hie, hiez, hie (phonetic spellings of he, hes, he)
 Language reformer Mont Follick, in The Influence
 of English (London: Williams & Norgate, 1934), pp.
 198-99, prefers to reduce all third person sg.
 pronouns to this simplified version of the
 masculine paradigm. He further suggests
 discarding the possessive altogether in favor of
 the prepositional phrase, ov hie.

 1927 ha, hez, hem; on The Forum 77: 265-68 Attributed by
 H. L. Mencken to Lincoln King, of Primghar, Iowa.
 (American Language [N.Y., Knopf, 4th ed., 1936],

 hesh (heesh), hizzer, himmer; on Fred Newton Scott
 (Scott mentions earlier creation of on). The
 Forum 77: 754; Mencken adds, "In 1934 James F.
 Morton, of the Paterson (N.J.) Museum, proposed to
 change hesh to heesh and to restore hiser and
 himer" (American Language Supp. 2, 1948, 370).

ca. 1930 thir Sir John Adams; cited by Philip Howard, New
 Words for Old (N.Y.: Oxford University Press,
 1977), 95.

 1934 she, shis, shim (gender-specific parallel to he, his,
 him) Cited by Phillip B. Ballard, Thought and
 Language (London: Univ. of London Press), 7-8.

 1935 himorher; hes (pron. [h s]), hir (pron. [hir]), hem;
 his'n, her'n "The Post Impressionist."
 Washington Post, 20 August, 6.

 1938 se, sim, sis Gregory Hynes, "See?" Liverpool Echo, 21
 September; cited by H. L. Mencken (American
 Language Supp. 2, 1948 370).

ca. 1940 heesh A. A. Milne; cited by Maxwell Nurnberg, What's
 the Good Word? A New Way to Better English (N.Y.:
 Simon and Schuster, 1942, 88-90).

 1945 hse Buwei Yang Chao, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese
 (N.Y.: Vintage, Random House, 3rd ed., 1963, rpt.
 1972), xxiv.

 1970 she (contains he), heris, herim Dana Densmore,
 "Speech is the Form of Thought," No More Fun and
 Games: A Journal of Female Liberation (April);
 cited in Media Report to Women 3.1 (January 1975):

 co (from IE *ko), cos Mary Orovan, Humanizing English
 (N.Y.: the author).

 ve, vis, ver Varda (Murrell) One. Everywoman, 8 May,

 1971 ta, ta-men (pl.); a borrowing from Mandarin Chinese.
 Leslie E. Blumenson, New York Times, 30 December.
 1972 tey, term, tem; him/herself Casey Miller and Kate
 Swift, "What about New Human Pronouns?" Current
 138: 43-45.

 fm Paul Kay, Newsletter of the American
 Anthropological Association 13 (April): 3.

 it; z Abigail Cringle of Edgerton, Maryland, rejects
 epicene it, prefers z. Washington Post, May 2,
 Sec. A, 19.

 shis, shim, shims, shimself Robert B. Kaplan,
 Newsletter of the American Anthropological
 Association 13 (June): 4.

 ze (from Ger. sie), zim, zees, zeeself; per (from
 person), pers Steven Polgar of Chapel Hill, North
 Carolina, proposes the ze paradigm; John Clark
 offers per. Newsletter of the American
 Anthropological Association 13 (September): 17-18

 1973 na, nan, naself June Arnold, The Cook and the
 Carpenter (Plainfield, Vt: Daughters, Inc.).

 it; s/he Norma Wilson et al., editors, "A Woman's New
 World Dictionary," 51%: A Paper of Joyful Noise
 for the Majority Sex, 3-4.

 s/he; him/er; his-or-her Cited and rejected by Gordon
 Wood, "The Forewho--Neither a He, a She, nor an
 It," American Speech 48: 158-59.

 shem; herm Quidnunc, "Thon--That's the Forewho,"
 American Speech 48: 300-02.

 se (pron. [si]), ser (pron. [sIr]), sim (pron. [sIm]),
 simself William Cowan, of the Department of
 Linguistics, Carleton University (Ottowa), Times
 Two 6 (24 May): n.p.

 j/e, m/a, m/e, m/es, m/oi; jee, jeue Monique Wittig
 employs the slashed pronouns as feminines, and
 cites the latter two which employ the more
 traditional feminine e; Le corps lesbien (Paris:
 Editions de Minuit); The Lesbian Body, trans.
 David LeVay (London: Peter Owen, 1975).

 1974 ne, nis, ner Mildred Fenner attributes this to Fred
 Wilhelms. Today's Education 4: 110.

 she (includes he) Gena Corea, "Frankly Feminist,"
 rpt. as "How to Eliminate the Clumsy `He,'" Media
 Report to Women 3.1 (January 1975): 12.
 en, es, ar David H. Stern of Pasadena, California,
 The Los Angeles Times, 19 January, Sec. 2, p. 4.

 hisorher; herorhis; ve, vis, vim Cited by Amanda
 Smith, Washington Post, 11 April, Sec.A, 29.

 shem, hem, hes Paul L. Silverman of Rockville,
 Maryland, Washington Post, 17 December, Sec. A,

 1975 hir, herim (facetious) Milton Mayer, "On the
 Siblinghood of Persons," The Progressive 39
 (September): 20-21.

 hesh, himer, hiser, hermself Jan Verley Archer, "Use
 New Pronouns," Media Report to Women 3.1
 (January): 12.

 se (pron. [si]) H. R. Lee of Alexandria, Virginia,
 Forbes 116 (15 August): 86.

 ey, eir, em; uh Christine M. Elverson of Skokie,
 Illinois, Chicago Tribune, 23 August, Sec. 1, p.

 h'orsh'it (facetious blend of he, she, or it) Joel
 Weiss of Northbrook, Illinois, Forbes 116 (15
 September): 12.

 1976 ho, hom, hos, homself (from Lat. homo, `man,' and
 prefix homo-, `the same, equal, like') Donald K.
 Darnell, in Donald K. Darnell and Wayne
 Brockriede, Persons Communicating (Englewood
 Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall), 148.

 he or she; to be written as (s)he Elizabeth Lane
 Beardsley, "Referential Genderization," in Carol
 C. Gould and Marx W. Wartofsky, eds., Women and
 Philosophy (N.Y.: G.P. Putnam's Sons), 285-93.

 she, herm, hs (facetious; pron. "zzz") Paul B.
 Horton, "A Sexless Vocabulary for a Sexist
 Society," Intellect 105 (December): 159-60.

 it Millicent Rutherford, "One Man in Two is a Woman,"
 English Journal (December): 11.

ca. 1977 po, xe, jhe Cited as recent and ephemeral by Casey
 Miller and Kate Swift, Words and Women: New
 Language in New Times (Rpt., N.Y.: Anchor Press,
 130). Paul Dickson, Words (1982), p. 113,
 attributes jhe, pronounced "gee," to Professor
 Milton A. Stern of the University of Michigan.
 E, E's, Em; one E was created by psychologist Donald
 G. MacKay of the University of California at Los

 1977 e, ris, rim Werner Low, Washington Post, 20 February,
 Sec. C, 6.

 sheme, shis, shem; heshe, hisher, himmer Thomas H.
 Middleton, "Pondering the Personal Pronoun
 Problem," Saturday Review 59 (9 March). Sheme,
 etc. proposed by Thomas S. Jackson of Washington,
 D. C.; Middleton refers to proposals for heshe,
 hisher, himmer.

 em, ems Jeffrey J. Smith (using pseudonym TINTAJL
 jefry) Em Institute Newsletter (June).

 1978 ae Cited by Cheris Kramer(ae), Barrie Thorne, and
 Nancy Henley, "Perspectives on Language and
 Communication," Signs 3: 638-51, as occurring in
 fiction, especially science fiction.

 hir Ray A. Killian, Managers Must Lead! (AMACOM)
 press release; cited in "The Epicene Pronoun Yet
 Again," American Speech 54 (1979): 157-58.

 hesh, hizer, hirm; sheehy; sap (from homo sapiens)
 Tom Wicker, "More About He/She and Thon," New York
 Times, 14 May, Sec. 4, p. 19 Hesh etc. proposed
 by Prof. Robert Longwell of the University of
 Northern Colorado; sheehy by David Kraus of Bell
 Harbor, N.Y.; sap (facetiously) by Dr. Lawrence S.
 Ross, of Huntington, N.Y.; Wicker adds that
 several readers offered blends of he, she, and it.

 heesh, hiser(s), herm, hermself Leonora A. Timm, "Not
 Mere Tongue in Cheek: The Case for a Common Gender
 Pronoun in English," International Journal of
 Women's Studies 1: 555-65.

 1979 one Lillian E. Carleton, "An Epicene Suggestion,"
 American Speech 54: 156-57.

 et, ets, etself Aline Hoffman of Sarnia, Ontario;
 cited by William Sherk, Brave New Words (Toronto:
 Doubleday Canada, 1979).

 hir, hires, hirem, hirself Jerome Ch'en, Professor of
 History at York University, New York Times, 6
 January, 18.

 shey, sheir, sheirs; hey, heir, heirs Paul Encimer
 favors the first over the second paradigm. The
 Peacemaker 32 (February): 2-3.
 1980 it Herman Arthur, "To Err Is Huperson; to Forgive,
 Divine," American Educator 4 (Winter): 30-32.

 1981 heshe, hes, hem Ronald C. Corbyn, "Getting Around
 Sexist Pronouns," Anthropology Newsletter 22
 (October): 10-11.

 1982 shey, shem, sheir Mauritz Johnson; cited by William
 Safire, What's the Good Word? (N.Y.: Times Books),

 E, Ir Subject and possessive forms, created by the
 Broward County, Florida, public schools; cited by
 Paul Dickson in Words (N. Y.: Delacorte), 113.

 1984 hiser McClain B. Smith, Ann Arbor News, 20 January,
 Sec. A, 6.

 hes Ernie Permentier, Ms. (May): 22.

 hann Steven Schaufele of the Univ. of Illinois
 linguistics department takes this from Old Norse,
 already the source of some English pronouns;
 analogous to Finnish han. Colorless Green
 Newsflashes 4 (9 November), 3.

 1985 herm Jenny Cheshire traces this to the magazine
 Lysistrata. "A Question of Masculine Bias,"
 Today's English 1: 26.

 1988 han, hans A. M. Stratford, of Norfolk, England,
 creates this form to resemble other British
 initials (HM, HRH, HMS, HE, HMSO), English Today

 e, e's (from the common letter in he and she) Eugene
 Wine, of Miami-Dade Community College, also notes
 that I and you "have already been reduced to a
 single vowel sound." Chronicle of Higher
 Education, 21 September, 2.

 1989 ala, alum, alis Michael Knab, of Goodwin, Knab and
 Co., Chicago, derives these from Lat. al, `other'
 and feels they resemble the Hawaiian sex-neutral
 pronouns oia, ia. Press release and personal

 e, e's, emself, em Victor J. Stone, Professor of Law
 at the University of Illinois at Urbana. In the
 Chicago Bar Association's CBA Record 3
 (July/August): 12.

 1991 de/deis; den/din Richard Strand, Keith Roberson, Dan
 Fisher, BLAST (Computer) Support Office, Dept. of
 Mechanical Englineering, Univ. of Illinois.
 de/deis (rhymes with `dee/dyes') created de novo
 with some Germanic influence; den/din created on a
 similar `root' to replace man/woman and men/women.
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