LINGUIST List 6.1071

Thu Aug 10 1995

Disc: He/She Re: 1023

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. "Paul Foulkes", He/She

Message 1: He/She

Date: Mon, 07 Aug 1995 10:30:54 He/She
From: "Paul Foulkes" <>
Subject: He/She

> Jeffrey Weber replies:
> 1) My own approach to the "generic he" problem is based on my observation of
> the late survival of the h-stem feminine in historical English, in many cases
> the form being identical to the masculine. This observation is counter to
> modern writers such as Pyles/Algeo, Strang, Penelope (e-mail me for
> citations) -- writers who have kept alive and academically popular the idea
> that the h-stem feminine had disappeared before 1300.

h-initial forms of the feminine pronoun are alive - if not
necessarily very well - in various parts of Britain, if not
elsewhere. At a guess these are usually restricted to rural areas.
Conservative speakers in parts of Derbyshire, for example, retain
a form typically written as 'her' (and which, naturally, is normally
regarded as misuse of the possessive pronoun). Dialect maps (eg by
Orton) often deal with these pronouns.

Paul Foulkes
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