It's a Baby! (was Re: Another topic)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Wed Dec 3 20:21:08 EST 2003

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003 23:41:33 +0000, minnow at wrote:

>Melissa wrote:
>>I've mostly seen it in contemporaries of Nesbit (and earlier) but only in a
>>general sense--I can't cite many examples.  What I've seen most often is
>>referring to an infant as "it," not so much older children.  I don't know
>>why that is.
>Might it be when the baby isn't generally named, just referred to as "the
>baby" or "Baby"?  I mean, it gets mentioned as "Isabella was the baby of
>the family" on about page three, and then is just "the baby" thereafter,
>not actually called "Isabella"?

Oh, I'm sure of it--if the baby's identified, it seems strange to be using a
neuter pronoun.  What I think is strange is why the gender wouldn't be
identified...but only "strange" in the sense of "we are so much more
obsessed with such things than people were in days of yore."  

In fact, I realized that I use "it" myself when writing or speaking of a
baby whose sex I do not know.  I think that's where I picked up the habit,
those old texts.

>>Melissa Proffitt
>>who calls all her kids "you there"
>>on the assumption that they know who they are
>A lady I knew (she was Mayor of Totnes and is therefore on my mind just at
>this moment) decided at one point that her three children were really
>called "Somebody", "Anybody" and "Everybody", because when she said "could
>somebody help lay the table?" (say) the eldest would always do it, when she
>said "Can anybody find the forks?" the youngest would, and if she said
>"Will everybody clear the table for supper, *now*!" then the middle child
>sometimes would as well...

I wish my life were that easy.  I'm lucky if the children respond to their
given names without me tacking on middle and surname as well, delivered in a
loud carrying theater voice.

Melissa Proffitt
(whose oldest child is reading over her shoulder and thinks I am Very Funny
to mention it)

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