Another topic

deborah deborah at
Thu Dec 4 10:58:23 EST 2003

On Thu, 4 Dec 2003, Otter Perry wrote:
|I use 'they/their' if I can't get around it.  So I might actually write
|'a student handed in their homework.'  I almost certainly
|wouldn't write 'a student handed in its homework.'

Ah, but I might write "the student handed in homework," or "each student
handed in his or her own homework," or "all the students handed in their
homework".  Depending on which was appropriate for the situation.

if there's another way to rephrase the sentence so it still sounds good
(without resorting to poor, over used, passive voice) then I'll do so.
If I'm using examples in my own writing, I'll alternate between male and
female pronouns for different examples if it makes sense to do so.

I understand that it won't be long before "their" is the perfectly
acceptable English unknown-gender pronoun.  It's already acceptable in
idiomatic speech.  But it's not yet sufficiently acceptable to be used
in academic or professional work.  The standards for casual conversation
for different from the standards that we use for writing which is going
to represent us to teachers, professors, managers, and colleagues  And
that's a good thing.  (I make new effort to seem professional with
y'all, of course. *grin*)

We'll get there, but for now, I think students need to suffer with
figuring out non-awkward ways of rephrasing.  It's a good thought
exercise, anyway.  ;)

You klingon bastard, you killed my son.  You klingon bastard, you killed my
son.  You ... Klingon ... bastard ... you ...

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