LINGUIST List 6.905

Wed Jun 28 1995

Disc: He/She

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <lveselinemunix.emich.edu>


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  1. , Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She
  2. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She

Message 1: Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She

Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 11:14:41 Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She
From: <debaronuiuc.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She

It always seemed to me that the generic masculine pronoun rule of the 18th
c. depended not so much on local English usage of he but on the Latin rule
valorizing genders in the order m, f, n so as to take care of situations
involving gender mixing (what was called the worthiness of the genders).

Certainly h- stem pronouns in both fem and plu persist in speech (and
especially in their unaspirated forms) long after they disappear from
print, as the still common use of 'em and 'a attest. But even in the 18c
the question typically involves everyone ... his (pronoun and antecedent in
the same clause) rather than everyone ... he, where clause and sentence
boundaries may interfere with agreement. Everyone ... her would be an
h-stem option clearly distinguished from his, an option not chosen for
mixed groups (or for all-male or even all female groups, occasionally).
Initial calls for a gender-neutral 3 pers. sg. pronoun in the 19th c.
emphasized that the generic masculine pronoun agreement practice based on
the worthiness doctrine violated the equally stringent requirement that
pronouns agree with their antecedents in _gender_ as well as number.

Dennis
--



Dennis Baron debaronuiuc.edu

Department of English office: 217-333-2392
University of Illinois fax: 217-333-4321
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Message 2: Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She

Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 16:38:09 Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.889, Disc: He/She

Surely, the "androcentric" "he-rule" is not restrictde to
English. Hence, whatever the (highly interesting) facts
about the H-stem vs. the SH-stem feminine in English, they
will not help us deal with the question of the origins or
the survival of the "he-rule". (Or am I wrong?)

Alexis Manaster Ramer
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