Gender specific pronouns -- do you use them, not use them, or half and half?


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Thread: Gender specific pronouns -- do you use them, not use them, or half and half?

  1. #1

    Gender specific pronouns -- do you use them, not use them, or half and half?

    I'm sure some of the words I'm talking about are coming to mind -- blond/blonde, brunet/brunette, fiance/fiancee, etc.. I haven't really found a consistent system that works for me and as a result, I'm often all over the place. For example, I prefer "blond" used gender-ambiguously over "blonde" (for some reason, I just don't like that spelling), but sometimes still use "brunette" even when the masculine "brunet" is correct simply because the latter is apparently far less common in American English. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen "brunet" used in any book I've ever read.

    From a narrative perspective, however, it's much simpler to distinguish between stewards and stewardesses and actors and actresses (and the like), so I do.

    So, basically, I'm all over the place on the issue.

  2. #2
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    I use the correct pronoun for the context. I wouldn't call an Anteater anything but just because they found the label Anteater foodist...
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Xander416 View Post
    I'm sure some of the words I'm talking about are coming to mind -- blond/blonde, brunet/brunette, fiance/fiancee, etc.. I haven't really found a consistent system that works for me and as a result, I'm often all over the place. For example, I prefer "blond" used gender-ambiguously over "blonde" (for some reason, I just don't like that spelling), but sometimes still use "brunette" even when the masculine "brunet" is correct simply because the latter is apparently far less common in American English. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen "brunet" used in any book I've ever read.

    From a narrative perspective, however, it's much simpler to distinguish between stewards and stewardesses and actors and actresses (and the like), so I do.

    So, basically, I'm all over the place on the issue.
    Just for the record, 'brunet' isn't the masculine version of 'brunette'. It's the U.S. spelling.

    I use whatever will cause the least ambiguity for the reader. If I have to use actress or stewardess, I will do so unapologetically. I will not be cowed by political correctness or hyper-sensitivity.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Just for the record, 'brunet' isn't the masculine version of 'brunette'. It's the U.S. spelling.
    According to Merriam-Webster it's the American spelling of the masculine version of the word. In fact the two spellings "brunet" and "brunette" are originally both French words, masculine and feminine respectively, nothing to do with English at all, so the US approach has gone back to the source on this. I've never encountered the masculine form in UK English though, but then who writes about men's appearances in a stylish way anyway? Descriptions of men tend to be more factual than impressionist, so don't need that French slant.

    If one follows the reasoning used over food, that one uses the Anglo-Saxon word for an animal when it is alive and the French word when one is consuming it, then what does that imply about the description of women through the use of French words? I don't think I'll go any further in that direction of thought but just blame the Normans for it.

    If I were to use pronouns, as opposed to nouns, half and half gender specific then I suppose that I would have to refer to things such as animals which might have a gender as "hit" and "hert", but perhaps the thread title didn't mean that.
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  5. #5
    I use whatever I find pops into my head. It is usually the most common usage. If it weren't that would be okay, too. Hopefully, it is also grammatically correct. I make an effort to not follow P.C. Currently, here in Hollywood, 'actress' is a no-no. I've been blacklisted for my usage of it. That's okay. I didn't want their exorbitant pay and exciting lifestyle. Actress, actress, actress.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Just for the record, 'brunet' isn't the masculine version of 'brunette'. It's the U.S. spelling.
    News to me. Like I said, I don't think I've ever seen that spelling used in any book I've read. "Brunette" is always used, though never in reference to men that I can recall. Most books I find tend to describe people in very limited ways or not at all, whereas I tend to be a little exacting.

    I use whatever will cause the least ambiguity for the reader. If I have to use actress or stewardess, I will do so unapologetically. I will not be cowed by political correctness or hyper-sensitivity.
    It's not about political correctness to me either, I'm just always on the lookout for easier ways to say more with fewer words. The -ess suffix is just a simple way to say a characters of certain professions are female without having to outright state that the person or persons are female. It doesn't work for all professions, though. If "copess", "soldieress", or "Mariness" ever come into regular usage, I plan on throwing myself off the roof of the Empire State Building.

    I will admit that, at least here in America, there does seem to be some kind of agenda behind attempts to make English gender-ambiguous. It'll probably end up failing just like attempts from years back to change the spelling of "woman" and "women" to "womyn" or something like that, though, so I'm not going to get too wrapped up in it. While I lean a bit on the progressive spectrum, I'm honestly getting sick of political correctness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    I make an effort to not follow P.C. Currently, here in Hollywood, 'actress' is a no-no. I've been blacklisted for my usage of it.
    That royally sucks, sorry to hear it. As a fellow Californian, I feel your pain. I love Cali, but the PC movement here is getting out of hand.

  7. #7
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    I always thought the masc of brunette was bruno. "In the door stood a tall, powerful bruno." I think that sounds great!

    As for genderised it, it would have to be hit and sh*t, no?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    As for genderised it, it would have to be hit and sh*t, no?
    Although I considered that I felt it more expedient to cite the accusative rather than the nominative forms.
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  9. #9
    I never really think about masculine and feminine when it comes to English. Maybe it's because all nouns in French (at least from the little I remember) are all either masculine or feminine, usually with the feminine word ending in e. So, I guess i don't really think of whether a word in English is masculine or feminine. I just know that actress is essentially a female actor.
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  10. #10
    Unless I'm seriously confused, these aren't pronouns. They're just gender-specific nouns.

    Getting back to the original post, a lot of these are new to me. I knew fiancé/fiancée, but I had always thought blond/blonde were just variations of spelling, like grey/gray. I've never encountered or even knew of the word "brunet," and I'm as American as, well...just see my avatar.

    For the more common ones, like waiter/waitress and the like, I use the gender-specific spellings. No reason not to; after all, that's why they're there. If someone's going to be bothered by that, we might as well use "male person" and "female person" instead of "man" and "woman" too.
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