Wednesday, February 1, 2012

He, She, Ne

Just now I was reading an article in which the author referred to a theoretical person.  The person, being theoretical, had no gender.  How to refer to such a person? The author chose the term "she".

 "Where is the player supposed to go, and will she know how to get there?"

 "She"? It struck me as odd.  Typically theoretical people are a "he".   Which also strikes me as odd.  Why has the history of the English language not left it with a gender-neutral term for a human being?

 There's "they", as in "if a person buys a ticket, they can watch the show." But "they" is also plural: "If ten people buy tickets, they can watch the show." Crazy.  Then there's the utterly laborious "he or she" some begrudgingly resort to, wearing on his or her sleeve his or her fear of just using "he" and being labeled sexist or "she" and being labeled an overzealous feminist.  Why have we put up with this lack of an obviously necessary term for so long?

I don't know any other languages, but I'm sure many don't have this problem.  Maybe we could borrow a term from one of them. Or maybe we had such a word back in the Shakespeare days of "yore" and feather pens, and it's been lost to time.  I don't care to research it.   Instead I'll just propose a new word: Ne.

"Ne" as in "neutral".  She, he, ne.  Problem fucking solved.  You're welcome.  Now go forth and spread the word, and when people ask what the hell you're talking about, just look at them like they're the idiot. Change begins with you.  Ne!