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Gender-neutral third person Pronoun

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Post originally by Clausewitz2 at 2005-11-11 00:39:54
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And I'd like to be able to distinguish between Samoan (with equivalent examples in other Polynesian languages) "ma’ua" [first person plural exclusive, meaning him/her and me but not you] and "ta'ua" [first person plural inclusive, meaning you and I]. But inserting using unfamiliar foreign words in any speech community where bilingualism in that language is not extremely prevalent is just asking for trouble.

The fact that most people in the world are bi- or tri-lingual doesn't detract from the point in a North American or West European context, where it tends to be shamefully easy to find monolinguals.
 
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Post originally by Karro at 2005-11-11 06:22:07
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A High School English Teacher I had suggested that "he", "him", and "his" have, over the years, become sufficiently gender-neutral enough to use as short hand for the silly and cumbersome "he or she" and as an alternative to what she viewed as the technically incorrect "they".

But even then, it smacked of over-bearing paternalism (and I'm one of those strangley conservative North Americans). Still, if a publisher or editor requires one of the above conventions, I'd rather use this one than the aforementioned cumbersome "he or she" or the rather confusing use of switching between "he" and "she". At least sticking to one keeps the writing clearer.
 
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Post originally by Karro at 2005-11-11 06:57:05
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I've seen far more interesting suggestions than "on", and some from a variety of other languages, some just completely made up. But, as suggested elsewhere, a word is meaningless without popular adoption.

Anyway, thanks for the clarity on the manuals of style. I suspect, however, that I may still have some confusion on this issue. Where exactly does MLA fall in this spectrum? Is it even a style guide? I ask because I have a book that discusses issues of grammar and style. However, a large section of it is devoted to documentation, and the main purpose of learning the MLA style was to learn how to properly document sources in scholarly papers. (Which seems not to be too useful in the field of RPG Freelance writing, but then I don't recall a course offered at my college on RPG Freelance writing ;).)
 
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Post originally by Clausewitz2 at 2005-11-11 08:13:39
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He, him, and his were the defaults until feminism really got rolling in the 60s and people began to realize that hey, assuming that males are the default is just a little bit sexist. Some experimental evidence that people do read he as gendered even in non-specific contexts was provided by men and women, when asked to draw an illustration of a given passage where he was being used in a non-specific reference way, drawing men. "He or she" was instituted precisely because "he" had become unacceptable.
 
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Post originally by Karro at 2005-11-11 08:39:36
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And as I pointed out, it was precisely this problem that struck me, even as an old-school conservative.

Yet again, using "he or she" seems cold, clinical, cumbersome, and boring, and for that reason appears wholly unsuited for, say, RPG writing which might tend to be 1 part technical writing and 1 part prose. It just seems that it could turn what was otherwise an engaging piece of RPG writing into something dry and humourless (unless it were specifically used for ironic or humorous intent in, say, a game like "Lefty: The Politically Correctioning", with apologies to my good-natured, left-wing friends).

But then again, if the editor demands it, then the point about dancing in a tutu or what have you certainly stands firm. If you want to get paid for a job, you better do what the job demands. That goes even if you aren't freelancing, and even if you aren't writing.
 
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Post originally by Lloyd Brown at 2005-11-12 08:10:36
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MLA is a style guide for a single specific topic. RPG writing doesn't require much source identification, although some D20 work does (if you're doing a compilation, for example). The D20 license has its own guidelines for that, though. I believe the documentation requirement is Section 15. (?)

Typically, the only book references you make during RPG writing are to other books in the series that you're writing. Because of the common release of subsequent game editions, I advise referring to a chapter rather than a specific page number if you refer to a rule or section of text.

If you're doing the type of research that Cumberland Games writes, I'm sure the market for that material would appreciate the more complete documentation (I know I would).

More to the point, reference errors will not cause your RPG query to be turned down or your submission to be rejected, whereas consistent errors in spelling, grammar, and language use might.
 
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Post originally by Karro at 2005-11-14 07:00:54
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Thanks. I think that sheds the right sort of light on the issue.
 
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pawsplay

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It's been pretty common practice to use they and their as a gender netural pronoun for the past 20 years, at the very least.
Yeah, at least. More like 420 years.
 

Karro

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pawsplay said:
Yeah, at least. More like 420 years.
It might be worth pointing out, though, that as long as it's been in use, it still causes headache for writers. Even though I posted the original comment on this topic, now that I think about it, whenever I see "they" and "their" in print, it causes my brain to hiccup a little bit more than when I hear it spoken. In spoken language it's completely natural to use, but in written language, as Lloyd points out, I think, it doesn't go over so well.

Just the same, as I've been looking into this topic a lot recently, I've found a number of instances where it's easy to reword a sentence to eliminate a "they" or "their" used singularly without resorting to some stodgy sounding "he or she". I guess that's why writers get paid the big bucks ;)
 

komradebob

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Karro said:
I've found a number of instances where it's easy to reword a sentence to eliminate a "they" or "their" used singularly without resorting to some stodgy sounding "he or she". I guess that's why writers get paid the big bucks ;)
Do you mean like in the bolded sentence?;)
 
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