The Words that Failed. A chronology of nonbinary pronouns. Dennis Baron

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1 The Words that Failed A chronology of nonbinary pronouns Dennis Baron debaron@illinois.edu Common-gender pronouns are words coined to fill a gap in English: the lack of third person singular pronouns to refer to either males or females, or to both males and females, and more recently, to refer to transgender or gender nonconforming persons as well. These new words were also called gender-neutral, doubtful, or epicene, pronouns, and sometimes they re referred to today as nonbinary pronouns. These pronouns fill a need, but none has been widely adopted, hence they are the words that failed. What has succeeded is singular they, which arose naturally in English hundreds of years ago, and is used both by speakers and writers concerned that their pronouns be inclusive, and also by many who don t give the matter much thought at all. In the 1850s, English speakers began inventing common-gender pronouns to use when the gender of the antecedent the person referred to by the pronoun is unknown or irrelevant, as in sentence (1): 1 (1) Everyone loves s mother. There is no way to fill in the blank in sentence (1) that pleases everyone. Here are some of the options: (2) Everyone loves his mother. The generic masculine of (2) derives its authority from the doctrine of the worthiness of the genders articulated in grammars of Latin. For example, William Lily states, the Masculine Gender is more worthy than the Feminine, and the Feminine more worthy than the Neuter (A Short introduction of grammar, 1567, rpt. 1765, p. 41; Lily actually lists 1 The original version of this list appeared in my article, The epicene pronoun: The word that failed (American Speech 56 [1981]: 83-97); and a later collection can be found in my book, Grammar and gender (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1986). Because of recent interest in nonbinary pronouns and singular they, and the availability of large, digitized databases of early periodicals, I have updated the list of pronoun proposals, adding links and illustrations, and I have also included early comments for or against singular they as well as information, where appropriate, about marriage-neutral and gender-neutral titles like Miss, Ms., and Mx. My focus remains on the historical lead-up to today s pronoun discussion, and the collection is weighted to reflect that.

2 Baron, The words that failed, 2 seven Latin genders, including two types of common gender, along with the doubtful and the epicene). This idea of gender worthiness was adapted to English grammars in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but by the nineteenth century, many grammarians had come to recognize that English gender was different from Latin. There were far too many instances where generic he was not inclusive, where he could never stand for she. In standard English grammars, pronouns are supposed to agree with their referents in number and gender. But some grammarians began to argue that although he in sentence (2) is singular, it s also clearly masculine, and so it cannot agree in gender with everyone, which is of the common gender. That makes (2) ungrammatical. (3) Everyone loves their mother. Since everyone is technically singular, though it implies more than one person, the singular they of sentence (3) fails the number-agreement part of the pronoun agreement rule. Interestingly, although many writers find (3) ungrammatical, a number of nineteenth-century commentators acknowledge that singular they is common in speech and has a long, respectable history in writing, and some even prefer it to invented pronouns or to option (4), the coordinate his or her. Singular they has always been available for filling in the blank of sentence (1), and there are signs that it s an increasingly frequent choice, that it may even be the default for many English speakers. (4) Everyone loves his or her mother. Commentators typically reject the gender-inclusive his or her as a cumbersome and wordy circumlocution. (5) Everyone loves her mother. The generic feminine, sometimes found in twentieth-century feminist writing as an antidote to the generic masculine, seems too political for the average speaker or writer. (6) Everyone loves one s mother. One has never been a popular pronoun in American English. Even British English speakers avoid constructions like (6). (7) Everyone loves its mother. It is not typically used to refer to people (although rare in today s usage, it was formerly a common option to refer to infants). My research reveals a number of threads that permeate discussions of English pronoun gender: support for the generic he: the writer explains that he is both inclusive and grammatically correct, and wonders, what s the big deal? discomfort with generic he: the writer feels there is no suitable alternative, but still feels compelled to indicate that he includes she.

3 Baron, The words that failed, 3 support for singular they as being both inclusive and colloquial: the writer rejects generic he as ambiguous or sexist, and sometimes adds that if you can serve for singular and plural, why not they as well? rejection of both generic he and singular they: the writer coins a new pronoun, or suggests that some expert coin one, in order to avoid ambiguity and grammatical error. all of the above may be accompanied by a condemnation of coordinate he or she occasionally a writer will add a comment about the need for either a marriageneutral honorific, typically Miss or Ms, to parallel Mr., or even a genderneutral honorific, like the recent coinage Mx. I have added these to the database where it seems appropriate. some of the commentators feel the need to invoke sexist stereotypes, and once in a while a commentator brings racism and antisemitism into the pronoun discourse. some of the writers are well aware of previous coinages or at least of the general grammatical discussion surrounding pronoun gender, while others seem to be writing in a complete vacuum and either reinvent the wheel or call for someone else to do so. As an interesting subthread, the research shows that generic he furnishes evidence for and against women s participation is various legal actions: voting; running for and holding elective office; and serving as attorneys, since state statutes regulated admission to the bar. If he was truly generic, then women could vote, become lawyers and judges a woman could even be president. But if he excluded women, then laws must be passed for them to engage in each of these activities. The question of the legal meaning of he was handled inconsistently until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the vote. But even after that, we find resistance to a truly gender-neutral interpretation of generic masculines. We can see this most recently in the futile boys-club backlash to the BBC s announcement of the first woman Dr. Who, as indicated by tweets like this, which insists, the Doctor is a time LORD. Not a time LADY : Word coiners, rejecting all the available options, went to work to find an alternative. The earliest invented set of common-gender pronouns that I ve found a reference to is ne, nis, nim, along with the blend of masculine and feminine, hiser. But so far I haven t been able to locate the texts where they first occur. A newspaper article in 1884, responding to the recent coining of thon by C. C. Converse, mentions that these forms were created thirty years ago, or more, hence the tentative date of Commentaries in 1792 and 1794 note the lack of a common-gender pronoun, as do texts from 1808 and The 1792 essay reports on ou, a pronoun in provincial use, but none of these writers actually coins a new pronoun.

4 Baron, The words that failed, 4 The early word coiners were typically concerned with grammatical correctness avoiding generic he and singular they. They weren t explicitly concerned with gender inclusivity or fighting heteronormativity. But as women s rights and suffrage became prominent issues in the later nineteenth century, common-gender pronouns were discussed by feminists and antifeminists alike. A Maryland Supreme Court decision in 1886 found that he in a state statute covering admission to the bar referred only to males, and so women could not practice law. In 1916, experts weighed in on the meaning of he in Article 1, sec. 2, of the Constitution, which declared No Person shall be a Representative... who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen (emphasis added). Originalists argued that the pronoun he barred women from serving in Congress; Constitutional liberals countered that he must be construed as generic and should not prevent Jeanette Rankin, of Montana, to be seated as the first woman elected to the House of Representatives. Arguments about appropriate pronouns for transgender and gender nonconforming persons appear in recent years, provoking renewed discussions about invented nonbinary pronouns and the appropriateness of singular they. I have included in this list early comments for and against singular they, as they often appear in connection with discussions of common-gender pronouns. It is my hope that this history of the early period of pronoun reform will be useful in today s discussions of issues involving language and gender. This list is intended as a reference work in progress, so I will keep commentary to a minimum, provide citations and links to primary materials when I can. It is likely that earlier discussions of gender-neutral pronouns and comments about singular they, will turn up. I encourage readers to help me supplement and correct what has already become a historical record that is much denser than I had anticipated ou, indeterminate pronoun The Scottish economist and philosopher James Anderson ( Grammatical disquisitions, The Bee 11:120-30; ; ) argues that the generic he is inappropriate because it is confined to the male, which ought equally to include the female. He argues instead for the usefulness of an indeterminate pronoun like the pronoun ou, recently reported in provincial use. In fact Anderson went overboard, suggesting that English would benefit from thirteen genders, including two indefinite, or common-gender, pronouns. It is perhaps fortunate that he confined most of his writing to economics and philosophy and didn t actually coin any new pronouns.

5 Baron, The words that failed, singular they The Medley or New Bedford (MA) Marine Journal 24 March, 1794, p. 2. In a string of battle of the sexes articles appearing over several weeks in the Medley, the writers provide a critique, explanation, and defense of singular they, along with another early call for the coining of a common-gender pronoun. An essay published on March 17, by a contributor using the pen name Alonzo, argues that an essay, written two weeks earlier by the Belle Assembly, contains a grammatical error: the plural them used to refer to the singular one. Here is the example of singular they that Alonzo objects to: How ungenerous it is to pitch upon some one of our acquaintance, tell private stories of them, and then industriously report them to be the author! [The Medley, 3 March, 1794, p. 2.; emphasis added] This mismatch of singular and plural, along with other complaints about the content of the original essay, causes Alonzo to ask, whether these Bookworms have, by their criticisms, done any honor to themselves, or the female sex in general (The Medley, 17 March, 1794, p. 2). In the next issue of the Medley, the Belle Assembly, who use the pen names Charlotte Lisper, Lavina Prattle, and Perthenia Ttrippett, reply, offering in their defense their reason for using singular they we wished to conceal the gender along with a request that Alonzo coin us a substitute if he s not happy with their grammar (The Medley, 24 March, 1794, p. 2).

6 Baron, The words that failed, 6 Alonzo did not rise to what may have been the first-ever common-gender pronoun challenge it, which In his notebooks, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wonders whether we may not, nay ought not, to use a neutral pronoun relative... to the word Person, where it has been used in the sense of homo, mensch, or noun of the common gender, in order to avoid particularising man or woman, or in order to express sex indifferently? Coleridge doesn t coin a common-gender pronoun, but suggests the use of it and which, instead of, he, she, him, her, who, whom (Anima Poetae, ed Ernest Hartley Coleridge [London: Heinemann, 1897], p. 190.) 1839 pronoun needed New words. A writer in the Mercury And Weekly Journal of Commerce (New York, New York), 31 Jan., 1839, p. 4, offers another call for a new, nonbinary pronoun, alerting readers to the want of a really personal pronoun in the third person singular, without gender.... We say, If any lady or gentleman shall buy this article shall have it for five dollars. The blank may be filled with he, she, it, or they; or in any other manner; and yet the form of the expression will be too vulgar to be uttered. Perhaps inadvertently, perhaps out of reluctance to use singular they, but surely with no sense of irony, the writer employs generic he in addressing potential word-coiners: If

7 Baron, The words that failed, 7 anybody will get us well out of the difficulty... he will be entitled to the thanks of all persons who love to talk (emphasis added) generic he The editor of the South Carolina Temperance Advocate (Columbia, SC), 20 Aug., 1840, p. 26, urges a correspondent to make known his name, which was written illegibly, before it can publish his letter, explaining, we use the pronoun his, however, as of the common gender, the writer will understand why generic he Two leading American abolitionists disputed whether he meant she as well. Lysander Spooner argued that a woman couldn t be president because the Constitution always refers to the president as he (The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (1845: 117). But Wendell Phillips disagreed: In grammars, as well as law, the rule used to be, that the masculine pronoun... included the race.... The Constitution itself, in the 5th Amendment, has, no person shall be compelled to be witness against himself... But, alas! according to Mr. Spooner, none of these shields cover the defenceless heads of the women! (The Liberator, 29 August, 1845, p. 139) generic he Although eighteenth-century grammar books traditionally accepted the generic masculine as the logical expression of the worthiness of the genders, it took an act of Parliament in the mid-nineteenth century to enshrine this dubious grammatical principal into English law. The Interpretation Act, also called Lord Brougham s Act, or, to use the unironic long title, An act to shorten the language of bills used in Parliament, 13 Victoria ch. 21, sec. 4, provides that, in all acts words importing the masculine gender shall be deemed and taken to include females, and the singular to include the plural, and the plural the singular, unless the

8 Baron, The words that failed, 8 contrary as to gender or number is expressly provided. Whether he legally included she when it came to voting or holding office would form a key argument in discussions for and against women s suffrage in England after the 1860s. Similar American statutory language, words importing the masculine gender include the feminine as well, became part of what is called the Dictionary Act, the first section of the federal code, 1 U.S.C. 1 (see entry under 1871). Interpreting the generic masculine would generate similar discussions about the grammar of suffrage in the United States. Note that in both English and American law, although singular and plural were reciprocally inclusive, the masculine included the feminine, but the feminine did not include the masculine. English courts in this period typically ruled that masculine nouns and pronouns included women when it came to paying taxes and other burdens, but not when it came to voting or other privileges. it A racist note in the New York Evening Post headed Grammatical Legislators defends the pronoun it used in reference to slaves in the newly-adopted Kentucky constitution: A writer in a Louisville paper shows that the new constitution... abounds in the grossest grammatical errors. The writer quotes Article XIII, the state s Bill of Rights, which provided that the right of the owner of a slave to such slave and its increase, is the same, and as inviolable as the right of the owner of any property whatever. The Evening Post defends the use of the pronoun its, writing, It is objected to this that slaves are male and female, and cannot have the neuter pronoun it applied to them. But the objectors have forgotten to estimate the effect of color upon gender. [Jan. 23, 1850, p. 2] [A later article, in the abolitionist journal, The Liberator, Boston, 3 March, 1854, p. 3, reports the freeing of eleven slaves in Ohio who would become farmers in Indiana, apologizing for the pronoun which in reference to them, because which refers to things, not people, then uses the pronoun who, noting that others, presumably the sort of person agreeing with the Post writer, may object to that choice.] ca ne, nis, nim; hiser New York Commercial Advertiser, 7 August 1884, 3. In this 1884 article, the writer disapproves of thon (see below, 1884), and recalls earlier failed attempts

9 Baron, The words that failed, 9 at coining similar bastard words: The earliest result which we remember was ne, nis, nim, and a very serious effort indeed was made to introduce this bastard word form into use. Later somebody suggested a combination of his and her, making hiser, and one or two newspapers used the form for a time generic he The women s rights advocate John Stuart Mill, calls the generic masculine more than a defect of English: 1852 The pronoun he is the only one available to express all human beings; none having yet been invented to serve the purpose of designating them generally, without distinguishing them by a characteristic so little worthy of being made the main distinction as that of sex. This is more than a defect in language; tending greatly to prolong the almost universal habit, of thinking and speaking of one-half the human species as the whole. [A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, 3 ed., vol II, London: 1851, p. 406n. Mill s Logic was first published in 1846; the note does not appear in the 1st ed.] pronoun needed The Semi-Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, VT) 1 Jan., 1852, p. 3, reports that the Lowell Morning News rejects the coordinate he or she as inelegant and bungling, reminds readers that singular they is a direct violation of the rules of grammar, and calls on one of our grammar makers to fish us up a new pronoun generic he; she means he A debate in the New York State legislature on an amendment to add she to a new Liquor Code features an exchange between two representatives over the scope of the masculine pronoun. Mr. Sessions moved to add she to prevent wives of imprisoned husbands from continuing the forfeited trafic. Mr. Morris disagreed, since only electors were allowed to sell liquor. Anticipate suffrage for women, Mr. Burnett supported the amendment since it is possible that women soon will be electors; besides the proposed Code says he means she, and she means he. Mr. Mallory felt the amendment unnecessary since the general principle of law was, that where the

10 Baron, The words that failed, 10 masculine pronoun was used, both genders were included. The amendment was then withdrawn and the discussion moved on. Buffalo Morning Express, 27 Jan., 1854, p. 2. This reference to she including he is the first and only instance I have found of legal reciprocity in pronoun reference thon [1884] A number of sources date thon to 1858, but I have not found direct evidence that the word appeared this early; see 1884 for full discussion of thon, one of the bestknown common-gender coinages; see 1899,1920, and 1923 for secondary sources dating thon to singular they In an explanation similar to that given by the Belle Assembly in 1794, a character in this serialized story explains that she used singular they because there is no common-gender pronoun: Mamma, when we speak of anyone in the third person without wishing even to divulge their sex, we say they because we have no third person singular of the common gender. But the speaker is aware of the ambiguity this may create: Because I used the pronoun they, she fancied there was more than one. Mrs. Southworth, Eudora; Or, The False Princess, New York Ledger (New York, NY) 28 Sept., 1861, p. 7.) 1862 it Pronoun discussions are not limited to gender or race. Religious discussions typically argue over the appropriateness of calling G-d he, but in this over-the-top antisemitic rant, Robert Gerry writes that he will refer to the idol of the Jews, whom he calls ignorant, violent, and the most despicable miscreants the earth ever bore up, as it. Dr. Syntax, Boston Investigator, 27 Aug., 1862, p generic he A report in the Boston Post describes a Massachusetts doctor s diagnosis of a difficult case of colorphobia, a hatred of black people, that identifies the patient as he with the disclaimer, excuse the Pronoun and Gender, suggesting that the generic he, but not the racism, needs an apology. The Liberator (19 June, 1863, p. 97). er The Bucks Herald (Aylesbury, England), 15 August, 1863, p. 8. Parenthetical remark in article on meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society: The monosyllable er is a pronoun of common gender in continual use in rural districts, more especially in the West of England.

11 Baron, The words that failed, ve, vis, vim Philologus writes in The Ladies Repository ( Notes and Queries, July, p. 439) to recommend this epicene pronoun as an improvement to English fitting this age of improvement to secure, with a little practice, precision, perspicuity, and brevity. alternating she and he A note headed The Pronouns Mixed reprints an article in the Springfield Republican on Elizabeth Cady Stanton s political activity, mixing, perhaps humorously, perhaps mockingly, gendered language: We admire Mrs. Stanton s spunk she is a gentleman of genius; she is a gentleman of parts; she has honorably achieved wide influence among the gentler sex of both genders. It is highly proper that she should not only sign a Presidential call, but go into the Convention as a delegate, take others of her female brethren with him. Perhaps we are getting the pronouns a little mixed; what we mean to say is that this is a free country, and is going to be freer, and that every man or woman of either sex has a perfect right to speak her mind and follow the lead of his own progressive ideas, and we hope she will do it. [Jeffersonian Democrat (Clarendon OH), Jul 15, 1864, p. 4] Alternating gender reference became a serious way to achieve gender equity in the 1970s and though it is not common, some writers still use it today generic he; non-generic he UK law: The Reform Act of 1867 (30&31 Victoria, ch. 102, sec. 3) gave every man in England the vote. The previous law enfranchised a class of male persons who owned property. Suffragists argued that the Reform Act, read in light of the 1850 Act of Interpretation, meant that man should include women, and that this shift from male person to man extended the vote to women. However, most courts rejected this interpretation. Even so, English women were often allowed to vote in local elections, but they were generally denied the right to vote for members of Parliament. The 1867 Reform Act led to extensive debate on women s suffrage both in and out of Parliament. During discussion of the bill, one MP asked in the House whether, under the 1850 the Act of Interpretation, the new law intended by the use of the word man instead of the words male person... to confer the suffrage on women. The Chancellor replied that the Interpretation Act provided that words importing the masculine gender shall be deemed and taken to include females unless the contrary as to gender is expressly provided. He then indicated that man in the Reform Act did not include women: In the present instance the necessary provision was made. House of Commons, The Times (London, England), Mar 26, 1867, p. 3, emphasis added. generic he US law: The same year, this Ohio bill to permit a Building Association to raise funds explicitly states that the masculine pronoun includes the feminine: In all cases in these articles where the pronoun he or him is used it shall be understood to mean a like pronoun in any other gender or number where the circumstances may require

12 Baron, The words that failed, 12 it. It is not likely that the phrase any other gender suggests anything like today s notions of gender nonconformity. [Freemont, OH, Weekly Journal, 21 June, 1867, p. 4.] exclusive his; co-ordinate his or her A comment explains that the use of his or her in the recent Criminal Act instead of the expected exclusive masculine pronoun is not a mistake, bit it has been purposely used to provide for a jury of matrons allowed in certain cases. The assumption is that the expected masculine pronoun would not be generic, but refers to typical all-male juries. The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury (Stamford, England), October 4, 1867, p generic he A US law taxing alcohol and tobacco defines person, state, and county, and also specifies, words of the masculine gender, as applied to persons... mean and include the feminine gender. This particular act extends to women the equal right (the obligation, really) to pay the taxes in question. In 1871 (see below), the scope of the definition was extended to cover all federal statutes. [An Act imposing Taxes on distilled Spirits and Tobacco, and for other Purposes. Statutes at Large, Ch. CLXXXVI th Congress July 20, 1868] en Cited by Richard Grant White. The Galaxy, (Aug., 1868): From the French en, suggested by a correspondent, and rejected by White as unnecessary. Excerpt from the suggestion: pronoun needed An anonymous writer objects that singular they is a common mistake, but it is not strictly correct to use his or her either, and so they call for the invention of an appropriate gender-neutral singular pronoun: Cannot some of the philologists or

13 Baron, The words that failed, 13 grammarians at a single bold dash, move an amendment in this matter, which shall be carried by acclamation? The Congregationalist and Boston Recorder, September 24, 1868, p non-generic he; non-inclusive man At a hearing the registrar ruled that 60 women whose names appeared on the rolls in the parish of Hillingdon were not entitled to vote despite Lord Brougham s Act of 1850, in which all words referring to men in the law could also apply to women. The officer found that Lord Brougham s Act did not apply to voting because the pronoun used in the Representation of the People Act (the Reform Act of 1867), determining the qualification of voters, always used the pronouns he or his, never she or her. The ruling found, in addition, that in the Act the word man shall be read, not as generic, but as defining the male to the exclusion of the female. The women s names were then expunged from the voting rolls. The Standard (London), October 6, 1868, p 3. han, hans, han, hanself Boston Recorder, 22 Oct., 1868, p A correspondent signing themselves L offers this coinage as short, unappropriated [that is, not performing other linguistic functions], and euphonious, as well as being both pronoun-like and distinct from the other pronouns. The writer is aware that pronouns are what we call today a closed lexical class, admitting that it is easier to incorporate a hundred new nouns and adjectives, and fifty new verbs, than one new pronoun. un, uns; one The personal pronoun, Boston Recorder, 19 Nov., 1868, p An expert correspondent finds han (see above) difficult because the aspirate is in the way. The English would never accept it; they are plagued enough already with their h s. Instead, they recommend un, from the French. An even better option, un adds, comes from a missionary pastor at the West who suggests expanding the use of one generic he Chicago Tribune, 4 April, 1869, p. 2. The writer notes that the Illinois constitution limits voting to every white male citizen, but although that denies women the vote, it does not deny them the right to hold office and neither does the U. S. Constitution. Since the masculine pronoun by law includes the feminine, women have all the rights guaranteed to men, and they must also be eligible to hold office in Illinois: So far as this State is concerned, the eligibility of women to all offices is rendered indisputable, because by general statute it is declared that, under the laws of Illinois, where any party or person is described or referred to by words importing the masculine gender, females, as well as males, shall be deemed to be included. And yet, for this writer, women should be content not to vote. They can do just about anything else, including own property; but to balance not voting, they are excused from paying a poll tax or serving in the militia. pronoun needed The Bloomington, IL, Pantograph calls the neuter pronoun one of the wants of the language (Jun. 16, 1869, p. 2): The roundabout modes which are adopted to compensate for the absence of one or two little words of this character are an opprobrium to our mother tongue. The writer objects to the coordinate his or her as well as the use of one, and finds troubling the way we are forced to speak of classes of

14 Baron, The words that failed, 14 persons who may be either male or female, for example, doctors and editors: We say Mrs. Doctor Walker, to indicate that she is a woman; but we would not say Mr. Doctor Walker. [See more on the feminist and suffragist Dr. Mary Walker below, 1876.] The writer finds forms like Doctress and Editress balderdash, along with Americaness and singeress, concluding, perhaps reluctantly, that for titles, the masculine now includes the feminine as well. generic he A Boston correspondent named North begins his letter to a New York antislavery journal with a discussion of a poem about spiders, and finally settles on some antislavery comments. North apologizes for using the masculine pronoun for spiders: I have been saying he all along, from the force of habit; a habit resulting from the lamentable want, in the English language, of a singular personal pronoun of common gender; but in fact it is generally she, a female spider, who spins and inhabits the web. National Anti-Slavery Standard, July 24, 1869, p. 3. generic he; pronoun needed Appleton s Journal, 21 August, 1869, p. 26. Citing the need for a common-gender pronoun, the writer adds, Why should it not be the duty of the women s-rights women to supply the needed term? As the laws of the grammars stand, the use of he, when she is meant, is an outrage upon the dignity and an encroachment upon the rights of women. It is quite as important that they should stand equal with men in the grammars as before the law so we hand this duty of amending the language over to Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony. um The Hartford Courant (11 Aug. 1869, p. 2), offers um in reply to Appleton s call for a new pronoun, acknowledging that it sounds a little odd, but we should get used to it. We have already shown our national capacity for digesting any combination of letters. generic he; women may hold elective office An opinion by the Iowa Attorney General, Henry O Connor, upholds the right of Julia Addington, elected as Mitchell County School Superintendent, to serve in that role. O Connor cites British law extending the masculine to include the feminine, which indicates our progress from a crude barbarism to a better civilization. O Connor admits that the state constitution excludes women: legislators must be free white males. It being 1869, though, O Connor adds, Free and white have lost their meaning (if the words in that use ever had any suitable or good meaning) but the word male still retains its full force and effect. I know that the pronoun he is frequently used in different sections of the act, referring to the officer, but, as stated above, this privilege or the citizen cannot be taken away or denied by intendment or implication; and women are citizens as well and as much as men. Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), Dec. 11, 1869, p. 2.] pronoun needed The Worcester, MA, Spy calls for a personal pronoun that may represent in the third person singular, an individual of either sex. Raleigh, NC, Daily Standard, 24 Dec., 1869, p generic he On February 25, 1871, the U.S. Congress passed the Dictionary Act (41st Congress, Session III, ch. 71, sec. 2; now part of 1 U.S.C. 1.1). Similar to the English Act

15 Baron, The words that failed, 15 of Interpretation of 1850 (see above), this law defines the scope of certain words for all federal statutes, unless otherwise specified. The relevant part of the law reads, words importing the masculine gender may be applied to females. As with the Act of Interpretation, legislating the generic masculine generated discussions in the U.S. over the scope of he when it came to voting and holding office. le The Wilmington, DE, News-Journal prints this note: A correspondent of the Philadelphia Star who has felt the necessity of a pronoun equally applicable to both sexes, proposes le as the word.... The additional pronoun is undoubtedly needed and le is just as good as any word if it could be generally adopted. [Jul. 18, 1872, p. 2] Presumably referring to the same coinage, the Detroit Free Press, 10 Nov., 1871, p. 2, attributes le to a Philadelphia philologist... wishing to steer clear of all sexual partiality. The writer provides this example: Let our Philadelphian keep on, le is no doubt in the right, linguistically. generic he The writer Fogy observes that in the dark age, when woman was considered inferior to man: the masculine gender was employed to comprehend both sexes and all ages as well. In these days of woman s rights, such usage is inappropriate; the same rule that confers upon our mothers and sisters... the privilege of working out poll-taxes on the road and standing up in rail and street cars, doubtless makes it necessary to use nouns and pronouns of both genders in all sentences in which reference is had to the entire human race.... Any unusual expression appears strange and queer, and any odd saying will lose its singularity by repetition. [ Hotch-Potch, Freemont (OH) Weekly Journal, Dec. 29, 1871, p. 1.] 1872 generic he Discussing the first two women to take the university matriculation examination, the writer argues that there is no linguistic or legal reason not to admit them: Not even a faint presumption to the contrary can be raised by the occasional use in the [University] Act of the masculine pronoun, because, as Mr. Mill observes, the pronoun he is the only one available to express all human beings (see above, 1851). We need not pause to consider the remark of that distinguished thinker that this circumstance is more than a defect in language, tending greatly to prolong the almost universal habit of thinking and speaking of one half of the human species as the whole. It is enough for our purpose that there is no grammatical or legal difficulty in making words of the masculine gender include the feminine. If we may properly call the Queen our Governor, there can be no impropriety in styling one of her female subjects a doctor or laws or a bachelor of arts. The Education of Women. The Australasian (Melbourne, Australia), May 4, 1872, p. 560.

16 Baron, The words that failed, generic he, man The radical MP Jacob Bright, a supporter of woman s suffrage, introduced a number of parliamentary bills to remove electoral and marital gender disabilities. Bright s 1873 election reform proposal would have added this text to acts dealing with the qualifications of voters: Wherever words occur which import the masculine gender the same shall be held to include females. The bill was debated in the Commons and rejected. An article discussing the bill s second reading objects to Bright s proposal to treat women like men in terms of election law: An old prejudice exists, embodied in Acts of Parliament and in the usages of grammar, that the two should be considered as distinct, and that the grammatical idioms of gender correspond to real differences of nature.... The fact that the exclusion of the sex from political life has hitherto been secured by the simple use of the masculine pronoun, without any special legislation, illustrates how absolutely inconceivable and unnatural the idea of Women s Suffrage has hitherto seemed. If it were ever to be realized, we should have to revolutionize the commonest modes of thought and expression; to guard our most familiar language, to watch our pronouns, and to check our most constant assumptions. [ Mr. Jacob Bright s Bill to remove the Electoral Disabilities of Women. The Times (London), Apr. 30, 1873, p. 9.] it French needs a word equivalent to English it. An article on Life in the Capital by our correspondent notes that the French might introduce a neuter gender for inanimate nouns, along with a neuter pronoun equivalent to English it. This would make French easier to learn and write, though the French Academy will certainly oppose the suggestion. New York Times, Sep. 7, 1873, p. 1] generic she (for teachers) In an article reprinted from the Pennsylvania School Bulletin, the author explains the use of she for teachers, suggesting that men become teachers to replace those women who fail at the profession: Let me state parenthetically here that I use a pronoun of the feminine gender because teaching seems to me a natural office of woman; man seems to have been called to occupy that portion of her sphere, which she, lacking the endurance or the incentive, has failed to hold. Lewisburg, PA, Chronicle. 26 Sept., 1873, p. 1. ca se, sis, sim Capt. John W. Dozier. A New Pronoun. Atlanta Constitution, 20 Sept., 1884, p. 4. Writing in 1884, Dozier, head of the West Georgia Agricultural and Mechanical College (Hamilton, GA), claims to have coined this new paradigm, based on the Latin se, about ten years earlier, though he did not offer it to the public until See also, The pronoun se, Atlanta Constitution, 12 Mar., 1888, p. 4, which references Dozier s new pronoun.

17 Baron, The words that failed, pronoun needed The editor of Appletons Journal (vol. 13, no. 316, April 10, pp , calls out the Atlantic for a recent use of singular they, explaining, even careful writers make the mistake, while in the ordinary utterances of the day it is as common as air. Of the grammatically-correct generic masculine, the writer says, the instincts of justice are stronger than those of grammar, and hence the average man would rather commit a solecism than ungallantly squelch the woman in his jaunty fashion. Despite the light, condescending tone, this is another early allusion in the pronoun discussion to a feminist concern. After this bit of chivalry, the writer adds, Every man of dispassionate judgment must see that if nearly all the writers in the country, learned and unlearned, are continually betrayed into a definite error of grammar, and an error which can be avoided in many instances only by either clumsy circumlocution or a half statement, there does exist a radical defect in the language to cause it. And the they conclude that objecting to new words is like objecting to gas, railways and steamboats... [that] bar the way to every improvement in our civilization. pronoun needed. Perhaps picking up on the ongoing discussion, or coming to the subject fresh, a squib in the Northern Ohio Journal (Painesville, OH), 5 June, 1875, p. 4, reads A new personal pronoun is called for that will answer for a person of either sex. Wanted a pronoun Somerset (PA) Herald, 29 Dec., 1875, p. 1. The writer disagrees with Richard Grant White (see above, 1868), arguing instead that we do indeed need a new pronoun. Another early connection between gender-neutral language and women s rights: We think the next Woman s Rights convention would and should object to [White s preference for the generic masculine he, along with White s example]: If a man wishes to sleep, he must not eat cheese for supper. The writer argues that a new pronoun

18 Baron, The words that failed, 18 would be the easiest solution for the masses [who] are not masters of language. And as if to demonstrate this point, the writer concludes by treating the plural literati as a singular: One thing is certain, there will be cause for complaint until our literati gives us better English or a new pronoun pronoun needed In a rambling letter treating many subjects (Louisiana Democrat, Alexandria, LA, Dec. 6, 1876, p. 3) the writer attacks the well-known feminist, suffragist, and Civil War hero, Dr. Mary Walker s gender-bending masculine proclivities and her support of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden: It is to be regretted that our language does not furnish a pronoun adapted to beings of positive but unknown gender. The neuter gender is hardly satisfactory. Suffering under this paucity of language, the newspapers, in referring to the gay and festive Doctor gets things a trifle mixed, sometimes using him, oftener it, and occasionally her um Nebraska Advertiser, 4 Oct., 1877, p. 1. Years ago it appears that some linguistic genius suggested that um be used for the common gender.... If any person is dissatisfied with the language as it now stands we should recommend um to adopt it.

19 Baron, The words that failed, 19 ita The Summit County Beacon (Akron, OH), 5 Dec., 1877, p. 3, cites a suggestion by A Reader in the West Salem Monitor for ita, composed of it + a, as a common gender termination, adding, Let every teacher and editor give ita opinion of the proposed innovation. A similar letter recommending ita in E is met with this editorial reply: Very few persons have thoughts too tremendous to express in the English language. Such as have are at liberty to invent a language of their own or make signs We want a new pronoun Unsigned Contributors Club column, The Atlantic Monthly, November, 1878, pp , calls the need for a new pronoun desperate, urgent, imperative. The writer calls on the eminent linguists to coin one, adding, I do not believe there is a writer in the country that is not hampered every time he no, she There! I ve run against the old snag. e, es, em, emself The Missing Word, Memphis (TN) Daily Appeal. 10 Nov., 1878, p 2; reprint of an article that first appeared in the Moline (IL) Dispatch, and referencing an earlier discussion of pronouns in the Peoria (IL) Daily Tribune. Nothing is needed but use to make E just as good a pronoun for the third person as I is for the first. Similar suggestion made in um (from em) Letter to the editor, Here s your pronoun, signed Um, answers the call for a new pronoun with um, because it is the pronoun used in speaking; why not write it, and make it a part of our grammar? [Presumably a reference to em, a form of singular they]. Cincinnati Enquirer, 11 Dec. 1878, p singular they; his or her The well-known Scottish philosopher and linguist Alexander Bain wrote one of the few nineteenth-century grammars to approve of singular they: When both Genders are implied, it is allowable to use the Plural.... Grammarians frequently call this construction an error: not reflecting that it is equally an error to apply his to feminine subjects. The best writers furnish examples of the use of the plural as a mode of getting out of the difficulty. Bain says that the conjoined his or her preserves

20 Baron, The words that failed, 20 strict grammar, but he warns, this construction is felt to be too cumbrous to be kept up. A higher English grammar (New York: Holt, 1879, p. 310). hesh, hiser, himer; e, es, em; singular they Alice L Heath, a progressive teacher, calls for a new pronoun in a signed article in the Holt County (MO) Sentinel, 31 Jan., 1879 p. 3. Despite objections, the new pronoun, like Banquo s ghost, won t go away. Heath laments that the established grammarians prevent her from declaring The Declaration of Independence to my language, requiring her to use awkward verbal circuits like his or her, which restrict her freedom. She encourages speakers of English to become inventors not only of labor saving machines inventors of labor-saving words. But she calls particularly on our philologists [to] combine and meet the demand; otherwise those not so well qualified will do the work. Heath thinks a pronoun like e is less harsh than hesh, adding, We wouldn t conscientiously use them as we know it would be incorrect. Heath argues that the need is so imperative, the demand that no longer the pronoun he shall carry double shall represent either he or she so urgent. And yet she, too, uses generic masculines: It becomes us to... welcome the time when an intelligent man with something valuable to say will not have to halt in the middle of a sentence feeling stranded, go back and begin again or else flounder ungrammatically through to the bitter end, and all because our language is deficient in that one direction. The New Pronoun. Holt County (MO) Sentinel, Jan. 31, 1879, p. 3. singular they Contributors Club. Atlantic Monthly 43 (Feb., 1879): 256. The writer argues that if the pronoun you could serve as both singular and plural, then why not they? Approving singular they would normalize what people already do: It would be easy to adopt this idiom, for we are continually struggling against its use, and how delightful it would be for once to make wrong right! [A note on singular you: Defenders of singular they still point to singular you as a precedent for a plural pronoun taking on a singular function. Originally plural, you began

21 Baron, The words that failed, 21 to serve as a singular as well in the seventeenth century, replacing and eventually ousting the th- forms, thou, thee, thy, thine, as well as ye. Not surprisingly, some commentators objected that singular you was ungrammatical. In 1660, George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers), wrote an entire book devoted to the error of singular you. In A battle-door [i.e., a textbook] for teachers and professors to learn singular & plural, Fox argued, Do not they speak false English... that doth not speak thou to one, and what ever he be, Father, Mother, King, or Judge, is he not a Novice, and Unmannerly, and an Ideot, and a Fool, that speaks You to one, which is not to be spoken to a singular, but to many? (Battledore, p. 2). Fox is blunt in his condemnation of pronoun error. Fox lost that battle to the unmannerly English of the idiots and fools, though many 18 th and 19 th -century English grammars the works of Robert Lowth and Lindley Murray, among them continued to teach thou as the second-person singular, and you as the plural, even though speakers and writers had long abandoned the form. It s likely that students were required to write thou on grammar tests, even though they and their teachers used you for everything else. Singular you eventually led to rise of new disambiguating plural forms of you: y all; youse; yins; you guys, particularly in speech, and to the disambiguating plural all y all in informal Southern American English. Above: Lindley Murray declines the pronouns, 1794.

22 Baron, The words that failed, 22 um Contributors Club. The Atlantic Monthly 43, no. 257 (Mar., 1879): 397. An unsigned article says, It is nothing more nor less than the creation, or discovery, of a new sex, or a no sex, answering to the new pronoun um that is proposed when you want to say he or she but can t. generic he New York Times, 25 February, 1879, p. 4. Discusses a new Texas law stipulating that, in the words of the writer, all gender shall be abolished.... the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter. Because of this, suffrage becomes promiscuous in Texas, and all the avenues of political preferment are open to all the sexes, masculine, feminine, and neuter. [To be fair, the sarcastic writer, who is racist and nativist as well as sexist, attacks several other aspects of language and law in Texas.] pronoun needed The Clearfield (PA) Republican, 11 June, 1879, p. 1, calls for a pronoun, singular number, common gender, third person... because the illiterate, and many who consider themselves well-educated, constantly blunder. pronoun needed Picking up on the Dr. Mary Walker meme, the Boston Transcript wants a personal pronoun of a common gender, and the Post suggests Drmarywalker. This will be apt to engender trouble between He, she, it and the Postman. (New York Commercial Advertiser, reprinted in the Opelousas, LA, Courier, 8 Nov., 1879, p. 2.) 1880 pronoun and honorific needed; marrify Noting the need for a word to distinguish a married man from a single one that is, a word to correspond with Mr. as Miss does with Mrs.; or as much needed as a personal pronoun, which may relate to either man or woman, that is, of common gender, the writer praises the new word marrify, used to express the performance of the rite creating man and wife. Marrify is intended to remove the ambiguity of marry: The minister marrified the couple, not married the couple, for each one of the couple marries the other honorific and pronoun needed A correspondent writes to the Burlington (IA) Hawkeye asking advice on how to address commercial correspondence to a man and woman who are running a business together. Finding that Messrs., Mr. and Mrs., and Dear Friends won t do, L. L. B. asks, Can you help me? The editor, acknowledging the absence of common-gender pronouns, writes, Here is an opportunity for a reform. In the mean time, the editor advises dropping all honorifics or prefixes, and if they don t like it ask them how they want or expect a civilized community to address such a complex firm. You may lose a customer by so doing, but the science of language and the comfort of a perplexed world may gain a solution to the problem. The Territorial Enquirer (Provo,

23 Baron, The words that failed, 23 UT), 15 Jan., 1881, p. 6. generic he Detroit Free Press, 13 May, 1881, p. 4. The paper reports on the denial of Mrs. Belva Lockwood s petition to be admitted to the Maryland bar. The writer, who refers to Lockwood as the Washington lawyeress, continues, To get rid of the masculine provisions of the article [Lockwood] cited another article of the code, providing that the masculine shall be held to include all genders except where such constructions would be absurd and unreasonable. In response, the Maryland court ruled that it would be absurd and unreasonable in the exact words of the code, to apply the pronouns he and him to a woman. Lockwood was the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court bar, in 1879, and the first woman to argue a case before the high Court. She ran for president in 1884 on the ticket of the National Equal Rights party, appearing on the ballot in nine states. Lockwood said of her campaign, I cannot vote, but I can be voted for. generic he In an address, Elizur Wright, president of the National Liberal League, argues that nothing in the Constitution excludes women from voting except, perhaps, the instances of the masculine pronoun. If he is not gender neutral, then Wright would amend the Constitution to insert or she after every he. Boston Investigator, 5 Oct., 1881, p. 3. And in another comment on women lawyers, the New York Times (9 Nov., 1881, p. 4) notes that most states still ban them from the bar, although an act of Congress in 1879 permitted women to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. The writer adds that generally, legislation is required to allow women to practice law, and reports that in Massachusetts, Chief Justice Gray had recently denied a petition by a woman, though not because of generic masculine pronouns in the law. Instead, Gray... reiterates the familiar principle that mere citizenship does not invest women with any absolute right to take part in the government as a voter or officer or to be admitted to practice as an attorney. Even though women are allowed to be on school boards or to manage charitable institutions or (women s) prisons, they must be granted each specific right, and it is assumed that those which have not been expressly granted are still withheld. Despite such negativity, the writer concludes on a supportive note: The legal profession is open to women in some places, and experience does not show that any harm has come of it. Let them fail or succeed, as men do, the antiquated restrictions that keep them from the Bar are founded in the tradition of a feudal age rather than in reason or right. se, sis, sin C. M. Arnold claims in 1884 that he invented this paradigm (Arnold is apparently unaware of Dozier s coinage of se, sis, sin years earlier, in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (New York, NY), December 27, 1884, Vol. LIX, p. 315.

24 Baron, The words that failed, who, whose In a letter, the writer suggests who as a common-gender pronoun, for example, I hope each member of the congregation will give liberally according to whose several ability. The writer notes, In the eye of the law, of course, his and their include both sexes, irrespective of race, color, or previous condition, but in the colloquies of everyday life a new combination pronoun is required, and the sooner the philologists come to the rescue the better it will be for all concerned. The Republic (Columbus, IN), 15 May, 1883, p. 2. generic he The North-Eastern Daily Gazette (Middlesbrough, England), 27 September, 1883, p. 2, reports on a proposal at Bombay University to have he include women, but finds this a somewhat inglorious way of granting the boon of equality to the fair sex. What they ask for is to be placed on an equal footing with men, but to make the pronoun he include the feminine gender is simply swamping their personality in that of the sterner sex. generic he A writer signing Hec. argues that generic he should not be extended to include women indiscriminately, particularly in the case of the Recorder of Deeds, the most important county office, for which one candidate in the current election was presumably a woman. The antifeminist rant goes on, In such matters our statutes are plain and make the necessary distinction in sex.... Romance, so often the effective tool of humbug, should have no place in determining this questions for the voters of this county. Plausibility, expediency and all sickly sentiment should be remanded to the back ground. Reality and hard common sense should be brought to aid each one of us in casting our ballots. Abilene, KS, Weekly Reflector, 1 Nov. 1883, p Wanted A new pronoun William D. Armes, an instructor at the University of California at Berkeley, calls for a new pronoun that shall express personality without denoting gender. Armes would prefer such a word to singular they: Ordinarily one would say, Every one is the architect of their own fortune incorrect but expressive. The Literary World. 14 June, 1884, p thon, thons [?1858] Charles Crozat Converse offers this signed contribution, dated 23 July, Erie PA, to The Critic, 2 Aug., 1884, p. 55. Converse, a lawyer and well-known hymn writer from Erie he wrote What a friend we have in Jesus says that he coined thon after several years of failed attempts to find the right pronoun. Converse does not say what these earlier coinages were, or when he fixed on thon to be his preferred pronoun. The earliest note that I ve found which dates thon at 1858 occurs in 1899 (see below) but has no source or explanation. The editor of the short-lived monthly English: for all the lovers of the English language, also says that Converse coined thon as early as 1858 (January, 1920, p. 262), and the 1858 date was picked up by H. L. Mencken in The American Language (2e. 1921, p. 192n.) and later by others, but so far I have not been able to find any of the early, unsuccessful coinages that Converse experimented with, or any occurrences of thon before his 1884 essay in The Critic.

25 Baron, The words that failed, 25 Converse s proposal sparked much discussion in the literary and journalistic press. Some voiced support, others were skeptical about the need for a new pronoun, or of the success of Converse s pronoun. Williams (below) preferred a different option. The Boston Globe, in an editorial article, felt that The majority of people will continue to say they (7 Aug., 1884, p. 2). That statement, in turn, prompted readers to object that singular they was ungrammatical (for example, J. E. Pratt s letter to The Critic, 16 Aug., 1884, p. 80, which appears below, after Williams suggestion). Thon was included in multiple editions of Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary and in Webster s Second New International Dictionary (see 1934), though it was silently dropped from Webster s Third. The pronunciation of thon, dictated by Converse, is the voiced th- of that, the word it derives from, and not the voiceless th- of thing. one; singular they A writer in the New York Commercial Advertiser, 7 August 1884, p. 3, who dislikes thon (see above, ca. 1850), recommends the generic masculine, the existing pronoun one, or singular they, which is not an error, at least in spoken English: Many persons who are by no means ignorant accept, in conversation at least, the plan of using the plural common gender pronouns, they, their, theirs, etc., indifferently as singular or plural. And in this they are not without authority of good usage. hi, hes, hem Francis H. Williams. The Critic, 16 Aug., 1884, pp Williams suggests this alternative to thon, but the editor points out that hi is too easily confused with he. singular they J. E. Pratt, The Critic, 16 Aug., 1884, p. 80, rejects thon as well as singular they, and criticizes the Boston Globe for approving a grammatical error in using the word they it either outrages a long established custom in such cases, or supposes a majority of persons to be equally ignorant; or it is guilty on both counts.

26 Baron, The words that failed, 26 that n, they uns Rejecting Converse s thon because it is impracticable to introduce a new pronoun into a language whose whole literature exists without it, the writer suggests the colloquial that n, or even better, the Southern they uns, but ultimately rejects singular they and any innovations, concluding, with all their faults we cannot get along well without the precision of He, She and It. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 20 Aug., 1884, p. 4. pronoun needed This anonymous writer seems unaware of previous suggestions, saying, We want a personal pronoun of the singular number and common gender.... Where is a professor. The Rossville (KS) News, 29 Aug., 1884, p. 2. le, lis, lim (from the French); unus; talis Edgar Alfred Stevens. The Current, 30 Aug., 1884, p Stevens recognizes the need for a common-gender pronoun and suggests that the pronoun it may have been created for that purpose, though it has proved unsuccessful. Stevens rejects thon (mentioned in The Current, 9 Aug., 1884, p. 94), faulting it for obscuring its etymology and its lack of case endings. He prefers instead to derive a new pronoun from the French le and pattern it after the masculine he, his, him. Stevens further suggests that word coiners submit their creations and let writers adopt the one they like best.

27 Baron, The words that failed, 27 singular they The writer says of thon and lin (presumably Stevens le, lis, lim, above, though others also cite a form lin), pending the researches of the learned doctors of the language... the pronoun them can be harnessed for service. The Cincinnati Enquirer 4 Sept., 1884, p. 4. hiser, himer (hyser, hymer) Charles P. Sherman. The Literary World, 6 Sept., 1884, p Sherman says, That some pronoun is wanted is, I think, evident, and he coins a pronoun composed of parts of his and her. As for the pronoun one, Sherman questions the grammaticality of a sentence like Every man or woman is the architect of one s own fortune, adding, It would hardly run smoothly in usage. twen, twens, twem; twon Chas. Dietz joins the fray with a paradigm based on twen, giving this example: If any man or woman breaks this rule twen shall be fined $5. But he adds, The syllable twon, suggesting two and one, might be used instead of twen. New York Sun, 8 Sept., 1884, p. 2. hersh, herm Wanted, a word, Daily Record Union, Sacramento, CA, 10 Sept., 1884, p. 1. The writer says that some years ago, Horace Greeley offered a reward for a new word... of common, or no, or both genders. [Greeley, well-known political figure and founder and editor of the New York Tribune, died in 1872; a search of the Tribune has turned up no reference to Greeley s call for a pronoun, and no earlier record of hersh.]

28 Baron, The words that failed, 28 Hersh is described as a compound of his or her, and herm derives from him or her. The writer also approves of thon and le instead of his or her: speaking of both sexes disjunctively is destructive of all that is poetic in a sentence (although these blends put the feminine first, instead of the more common hesh, hiser, which follow the worthiness of the genders pattern, the anonymous writer calls this a blend of masculine-feminine). The writer adds, Legislatures get over the difficulty by writing the laws in the masculine gender and then, by a sweeping statute, declaring that wherever in the law the masculine pronoun is used it shall be deemed to include the feminine. They find that such a workaround is inappropriate for non-legal English. hisern, hisen An anonymous, blatantly antifeminist article in the Atlanta Constitution calls the recent inventions of hisern, hisen, thon, and lin barbarous and insists that generic he includes both men and women: If, as General Butler once decided, a woman is not a person, the masculine gender will be sufficient to embrace her, when either man or woman has to be included. Atlanta Constitution, 13 Sept., 1884, p. 4. The writer refers to the notorious Woman Order of Union Army Gen. Benjamin Butler, when he was military governor of New Orleans, which stated that women who insulted or abused Union soldiers were to be treated not as women, whose legal status was protected, but as prostitutes, who could be treated with violence and contempt. Replying to this comment, the educator John W. Dozier announces his coinage a decade earlier of se, sis, sim. See above, A New Pronoun. Letter, Atlanta Constitution, 20 Sept., 1884, p. 4. ip, ips Emma Carleton. The Current, 20 Sept., 1884, p Responding to the earlier call in The Current for a new common-gender pronoun, Carleton laments that no man [has] risen to supply the missing word.

29 Baron, The words that failed, 29 um Double Z writes to the Inter-Ocean (Chicago), 22 Sept., 1884, p. 5, to suggest um as preferable to thon and le: If John or Jane wants this book, tell um (either one of them) I will return it to-morrow. ZZ adds, We already use em in the objective plural in rapid speaking, and um will be no harsh intrusion on the ear. hae, haes/hais, haim Atlanta Constitution, 24 Sept., 1884, p. 4. Clearly pronouns are in the air, for Suggester refers to the new personal pronoun, assuming readers will be familiar with the issue. singular they C. K. Maddox, writing in the Atlanta Constitution, 26 Sept., 1884, p. 4, rejects Dozier s se, sis, sim (reported Sept. 20, but coined a decade earlier, see above, ca. 1874) and argues strongly for singular they, which is in common use, although our grammarians and dictionary makers are very conservative and often positively stupid for rejecting it. pronoun needed Without recommending a particular candidate for gender-neutral pronoun, the writer suggests, There is only one way to make people adopt such a word, when invented, and that is to make slang of it. Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Nov., 1884, p. 4. gosh (jocular) This writer in the New York Sun observes, Hundreds of millions or more of English speaking people manage to worry through the ordinary requirements of polite and impolite conversation without using thon or lin. It seems to us inappropriate that the English language, after waiting five centuries for somebody to supply it with a personal pronoun of common gender, should be put off with so awkward a fabric as thon or one so feeble as le, lis or lin. How would gosh do? Jamestown (ND) Weekly Alert, 13 Nov. 1884, p. 4.

30 Baron, The words that failed, Ms. This ad for Dr. Bull s Cough Syrup begins with a dialogue between a Ms. Parrtington, identified as an aged dame, and the younger Mrs. Dull about what to do for a cold. Ms. may be an abbreviation for Miss. tha, thare, them (thon); singular they The missing pronoun, The Current, 17 Jan., 1885, pp Fred Newton Scott, who in a few years would become a well-known linguist at the Univ. of Michigan, as well as president of the National Council of Teachers of English and the Modern Language Association, had just graduated from Michigan in In this essay, Scott favors singular they, but recommends respelling according to his new paradigm, with thon as a possible replacement for them. Scott asserts that singular they is used by millions in speech, and by large numbers of careful and well-educated writers. Scott reminds readers that his proposal is not in the slightest degree dictatorial. It is perhaps the best recommendation the new word brings with it, that no one person can claim its invention. singular they The new pronoun. Atlanta Constitution. 25 Feb., 1885, p. 4. English is not Latin, and so the writer rejects invented pronouns and coordinate his or her in favor of the natural, colloquial style of singular they.

31 Baron, The words that failed, 31 thar Atlanta Constitution. 21 Mar., 1885, p. 4. A partly humorous response to a critique of the Constitution discussion of pronouns by the Chicago Times. Not a serious pronoun proposal, but a supposed Southern pronunciation of their, i.e., a form of singular they. thon Signing as Peck s Sun, the writer of Tinkering the English language, in the Springfield, OH, Globe-Republic, 25 Mar., 1885 p. 2, finds thon unnecessary and warns that adopting it will drastically increase the cost of already overpriced schoolbooks: first students will have to buy new grammars, then new spelling books, geographies, even arithmetics. Peck s Sun goes on, If the inventor of thon wants to place a pronoun where it will do the most good, let him introduce it in France, where they have no neuter gender, everything being either he or she. The writer s final recommendation? Shoot the thon. zyhe, zyhe s, zyhem The lacking word, The Current, 28 Mar., 1885, p. 199, George Washington Eveleth summarizes previous coinages and offers zyhe, consisting of Anglo- Saxon he combined with zy, the Danish for she.... Pronounce zah-e, zah-e s (s having the sound z), zah-e-m.

32 Baron, The words that failed, singular they; we Nashville Daily American 28 February, 1886, p. 2. The writer says, There was a strong disposition a few years ago to use the word they in place of the painfully grammatical expression he or she. The grammarians forbade it, as not consistent with the rules of grammar. If these grammarians had let us alone, they would have been selected by the people as the pronoun of common gender, third person, singular or plural number, and a great want of the language would have been supplied. The writer also makes a case for we as an impersonal pronoun. one Wanted, a pronoun, Blackwood s Magazine, rpt. in the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent (Sheffield, England), 6 March, 1886, p. 4. The writer says that using two pronouns, he or she, to represent one noun, is cumbrous and in a degree destructive of the convenience to serve which pronouns have been invented, and that singular they is an error highlighting the absence of a pronoun. They would like to extend the use of one to fill the gap. generic he Chicago Tribune response to Blackwood s (24 April, 1886, p. 13) rejects one as clumsy and absurd and rejects singular they as hideous. The writer sees nothing wrong with generic he, which is not limiting, but is an idiom sanctioned by custom. Another article, The new pronoun suggested, Nashville (TN) Daily American, 30 May, 1886, p. 10, reprints an article from the Toronto Educational Weekly which, in turn, quotes a Scot writing in Blackwood s (above) who argues in favor of one as the commongender pronoun, adding, Whatever word may be adopted will sound strange when first used in that sense, but the ear would not be long in becoming reconciled to it. hom; ho, hus, hum (jocular?) Part of a report on the state teacher s institute held at Florence, AL, observes that Prof. Davis, of Courtland, proposed hom as the commongender noun, and Ho, nom., Hus, poss., and Hum, obj, should be the pronoun. Montgomery, AL, Advertiser, 11 June, 1886, p. 2. Given that this paradigm yields hohum, it is possible that the suggestion was not entirely serious. his-her, him-her A new pronoun suggested, Baltimore Sun, 13 Dec., 1886, p. 6. Cites a reference by a correspondent in the New York Evening Post to a coinage of a Maryland lady sojourning in New Haven for a hermaphroditic pronoun to represent both sexes... a word which has the advantage of being free from fantastic form or unfamiliar sound. According to the proposer, once the form becomes familiar, the hyphen can be dropped id, ids The Gate City Journal recommends id with a possessive ids. Such a pronoun

33 Baron, The words that failed, 33 is certainly a much needed addition to our language.... Start the word out and we will all be glad enough to adopt it. The New Era (Humeston, IA), 24 Feb., 1887, p. 3. generic he Under the headline Eligibility of females to hold office, The Galveston Daily News (Houston, Texas), 12 June, 1887, p. 6, rejects challenges to two women recently appointed notaries public by the governor, because women already serve in the role in New York and Texas law makes clear that the masculine pronoun includes the feminine ir, iro, im (sg.); tha, thar, them (pl.) Elias Molee, Plea for an American Language (Chicago: John Anderson, 1888), Molee creates an Amerikan Grammar by restoring the Germanic roots of English; as part of his nativist project he adds commongender singular pronouns ( c.g. in the diagram below stands for common gender ) to avoid having to repeat he and she, his or her. non-generic he In a New Year s Day note, the Rapid City, SD, Journal (1 Jan., 1888, p. 2) reminds men to keep their New Year s resolution, purposely using the masculine pronoun because this paper knows that its lady readers do not need to reform every New Year s day. pronoun needed Late to the table in the state where thon had made waves four years earlier, the Philadelphia Times (17 Jan., 1888, p. 2) writes, Somebody ought to coin a pronoun that could be used in place of he or she. double gender pronoun needed On 4 Feb., 1888, the Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln), p. 4, runs a story arguing that English is a better candidate for the coming universal language than Volapuk, though it would benefit from some modifications, such as the addition of a pronoun of double gender, along with spelling reform and the elimination of words that mean several very different things but are spelled the same or pronounced the same. The writer praises English for being natural a growth and not a manufacture yet argues that corrected and improved... it will be a perfect language. se The New York Times, 2 March, p. 5, reprints the 1874 call (see above) by Prof. Dozier for the adoption of se.

34 Baron, The words that failed, 34 ze, zis, zim Josiah W. Leeds, The unsupplied common gender pronoun, writes to the Philadelphia Ledger (rpt. in the Macon (GA) Telegraph, 30 Mar., 1888, p. 4, that Joshua Hoopes, a botanist and Latin scholar from West Chester, PA, had coined this paradigm a few years earlier, which Leeds likens to the se, sis, sim paradigm coined by Dozier (see 1874, above). Leeds argues that since English is becoming global, and other languages already have common-gender pronouns, there is no reason why we should not possess the same convenience. de, der, dem Atlanta Constitution, 7 Apr., 1888, p. 6. An anonymous writer in the Richmond Dispatch suggests this paradigm from African American English. The proposal is racist and stereotypical, but expresses an attitude common in 19 th -century periodicals. generic he The New York Evening World (7 July, 1888, p. 2) apologizes for having to refer to women stenographers with the masculine pronoun: It is the misfortune of the English language that it has no pronoun capable of expressing in the singular number a substantive of either the masculine or feminine gender.... Let it not be supposed, however, that we are unmindful of the very large element of women in the shorthand profession. e, es, em The Indianapolis News (10 July, 1888, p. 2) writes, in advance of the Volapük reformation of all languages, let us devise a pronoun of common gender e, es, em. [Volapük was an artificial international language, like Esperanto, developed in 1879, that enjoyed some popularity.] The writer praises the new pronoun but is not optimistic about its success. It would be a positive addition both to the force and grace of English, if we were used to it. We never will be, apparently, however. generic she? The Standard (Concord NC) 12 Oct., 1888, p. 3., complains, in the education journals of the day, how often the teacher is spoken of as she, and asks whether this is meant to diminish male teachers, or does it arise from the fact that a large majority of the teachers in the North and West are ladies? The writer suggests that generic she violates the well-known principle in English grammar that the masculine, being the stronger, etc., may be used when reference is made to one of a class including both males and females. In an age of woman s rights, woman suffrages, etc., the writer urges men to assert our rights while yet there is hope. generic he As the issue of women s suffrage gained more attention, supporters and opponents of women s rights focused on the scope of the pronoun he. If the pronoun was construed as generic, and he could refer as well to she, then statutes that used the pronoun he to refer to voters or members of certain professions, like the law, or to those eligible to

35 Baron, The words that failed, 35 hold certain offices, could not be used to bar women. But if he meant only men, then laws with he meant no women. Courts and public opinion were divided on the issue. The Topeka (KS) Daily Capital, 20 April, 1888, p. 8, reported that the Kansas Attorney General issued an opinion that because the state constitution used the masculine pronoun to refer to elected officials, Mrs. Agnes J. Carruthers, already a county school superintendent, was not eligible to run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. However the Salina attorney T. F. Garver (or Carver) wrote an opinion concluding that Carruthers should be eligible. Garver cites Wright v. Noel, 16 Kansas 601: There is here not only no express disqualification of females and no affirmative statements of qualifications in which the shape of pronoun, or in biology, or in duties imposed, which would imply the necessary or intended exclusion of either sex. Since the state constitution does specify that state legislators must be male, the opinion goes on, when the constitution is silent [it] intends no restriction. Garver cites the state law that says masculine words include the feminine, and he quotes scriptural uses of the masculine pronoun (in English translation, to be sure) that are never taken to exclude women. And he cites the bill of rights, which uses masculine pronouns for rights that are always given to both sexes. Also in 1888, the Equal Rights Party member Anna Johnson told John J. O Brien, chief of New York City s Election Bureau that generic he in New York s voting law gave women the vote: The English language is destitute of a singular personal pronoun, third person, of common gender; but usage sanctions the employment of he, him and his as of common gender. Therefore under he women can certainly register (New-York Tribune, 26 Oct., 1888, p. 4). Other feminists disagreed about the generic masculine. See, for example, the entry for ons (from one) C. R. B. Writer 3 (1889): 231 Apparently C. R. B. had not been following the discussion of common-gender pronouns in the press. The comment by the

36 Baron, The words that failed, 36 editor, William H. Hills, proved correct: People will readily agree that such a word would be a useful addition to the language, but they will not agree upon a word. pronoun needed; plus a word for love that dare not say its name? Emma C. Hewitt, writing in the Ladies Home Journal, calls for a common-gender pronoun: He or those who shall at last settle upon a pronoun which will express the common gender, will doubtless convey a boon upon an English speaking public. Hewitt also laments that the 118,000 words in Webster s Unabridged do not contain a word to express that strong attachment which so often exists between man and woman an attachment enduring as earnest but one in which there is no shade of the tender passion just such an attachment as is expressed by the word love, from woman to woman or man to man. And love it is truly something far beyond a common liking but dare we say it? Wanted a New Word. Ladies Home Journal vol. 6, no. 11, Oct., 1889, p e (from he), es, em (from them) James Rogers of Crestview, Florida. Writer 4 (1890): Rogers objects to thon because every one has to be told how to pronounce it and it is more than twice as long as e.

37 Baron, The words that failed, 37 Wanted, a word Evening Standard (Dundee, Scotland). 14 April, 1890, p. 2. Correspondent asks for a philologist or grammarian to come up with an alternative to he or she or singular they. ta, tas, tam Ebenezer Lakin Brown, of Schoolcraft, Michigan, former Regent of the University of Michigan and father of a Michigan senator, finds that thon is heavy and seems scarcely capable of the inflections, and would prefer to revive ta, as used by Shakespeare (ta is still a colloquial second-person pronoun in British English). Brown set his recommendation in verse in a letter dated Dec. 1, to the New York Tribune (8 Dec. 1890, p. 10). The final quartet of the poem illustrates the paradigm: hi, hes, hem The Needed common pronoun, Weekly Irish Times, 26 July, 1890, p. 3. Of course the eye and ear will experience a shock at first, but this will be the case with any word which can be coined. Rpt. in The Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colorado), 3 August, 1890, p. 19. hor, hors, horself; zie To indicate the common gender. Chicago Daily Tribune, 27 Sept., 1890, p. 7. A writer signing X, from Pittsfield, MA, noting that the Colorado school code contains many co-ordinate his or her phrases, submits a proposal for hor, pronounced like the first syllable of the word horror. The editor adds zie to round out the paradigm: zie, hor, hors. Replying in a letter to the Tribune on 14 Dec,, 1890, p. 12, a writer objects to zie but recognizes the need for a new word: If the college professor of philology and grammar would recommend a new common pronoun it would start out with some show of authority, and might then stand a chance of growth into the pronoun family. generic he The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 17 Nov., 1890, p. 4, rejects calls to oust Anna Baxter, newly-elected Clerk of Jasper County, because state law refers to county clerks as he. The Post-Dispatch notes that the same reasoning would forbid women to teach,

38 Baron, The words that failed, 38 since the education law refers to teachers with the masculine pronoun. The editorial concludes, The want of a personal pronoun of the common gender in our language leads, as is well known, to the frequent use of the masculine pronoun alone, instead of the dual he or she and his or her in laws applying to either sex, and to give it an exclusive signification for the purpose of preventing the people from electing women to office, would be without any warrant in reason or public policy. Around this time, as well, we start seeing writers who, although they don t go so far as to adopt a coined common-gender pronoun or deploy the risky singular they, feel the need to indicate their use of the generic he is, in fact, generic and inclusive. In this article on Christmas gift giving, in the Wheeling (WVa) Daily Intelligencer, 25 Dec., 1890, p. 4., the writer says, Every one seems to think he must give something to every one who is more to him than a mere acquaintance. I use the masculine pronoun simply because there is no pronoun to express the third person common gender. [No one ever seems to comment that such explanations are more cumbersome than using his or her, and at least as noticeable as a coined pronoun or singular they.] See also, 1892, below hizer; singular they Writer 5 (1891): Forrest Morgan argues that singular they is grammatically correct because good writers use it, and he adds that your for thine is perfectly acceptable. For Morgan, singular they is better than such atrocious inventions as thon or hizer. ith, iths George Winslow Pierce. The Life-Romance of an Algebraist (Boston: J.G. Cupples, 1891; coined in 1890), 35. zie Chicago Daily Tribune, 15 January, 1891, p. 4. An editorial complains that schools are teaching children to capitalize every word: The great majority of these writers need to be told when not to capitalize, and it would seem superfluous to increase the amount of this unlearning to be done by the pupil if Zie would write correctly. Presumably the pronoun Zie mocks German pronouns and capitalization practices, as German in the schools was a touchy issue at the time.

39 Baron, The words that failed, 39 zie; ha, har Chicago Daily Tribune 23 January, 1891, p. 5. An Old Educator responds to the Tribune, taking the pronoun seriously: I do not like your invention of Zie for the common gender. It is the same in sound and almost the same in form as the German word for they. It omits the one letter which is found in all our pronouns of this class viz.: the letter h. The writer prefers ha and har, saying, Thus we should present the uniformity of this class of words and avoid perplexing the student by a very wide departure in both sound and form. Since this would produce the paradigm ha, har, har, the suggestion is likely to be facetious. pronoun needed Oblivious to the pronoun coinage but apparently aware that pronouns are in the wind, one Mr. Martin calls for someone to create a new pronoun: I wish the language makers would hurry up and coin that general pronoun, for I notice that some of you young grammarians will notice that the they and their in the last sentence do not agree with nobody in gender, number, and person. The Congregationalist (Boston, MA), 16, July, 1891, p generic he As I noted above, writers who do not use coined pronouns or singular they find themselves taking pains to explain that the generic he is used inclusively. In this essay on the problems of living and dining alone in London, the writer in the Guardian, 4 Feb., 1892, p. 8, complains, Among us the family ideal dominates all, and whoso lives not in the family is anathema maranatha; let him be accursed, and let comfort and good digestion be taken from him the personal pronoun here covering both genders and all cases. Another set of can women be elected? articles: one in the New Orleans Daily Picayune, 25 Nov., 1892, p. 4, cites the argument that the suffragist Mary E. Lease, prospective candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, could not serve because the Constitution says He but notes that he may include she, and concludes, if the Supreme Court decide that this He might embrace the gentler sex, Mrs. Lease would be delighted. The other, in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, 24 Nov., 1892, p. 4, supports Lease s eligibility, adding, It is, of course, not worth while to dispute that the language was employed with the presumption on the part of the Constitution-makers that the Senators would be of the male sex. But the pronoun does not make a constitutional enactment to that effect not she The Memphis Commercial reports that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field lectured a Texas lawyer pleading before the high court for referring to the United States as she, when the Constitution always treats the US as plural, these United States. Galveston Daily News (Houston, Texas), 19 April 19, 1893, p. 4. generic he Can a woman can serve as on the state supreme court? The (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal, 19 Nov., 1893, answers a reader s query by noting that Mrs. Ada M. Bittenbender, a candidate for that elected position, argued that she is eligible to hold that office because the Fourteenth Amendment defines citizens as all persons born or naturalized in the United States. According to Bittenbender, the state constitution refers

40 Baron, The words that failed, 40 to the supreme court justices using the masculine pronouns he and his simply because the English language has no third person singular pronoun for the common gender. The newspaper advises, the most speedy way to settle the question will be to give her a chance to sit down on the bench armed with a certificate of election pronoun needed A report in the Denver Post, 15 Dec., 1894, p. 4., of a call by the News to have the new legislature coin a new pronoun which may be applicable to either sex. The Post remarks, Legislatures have heretofore been more noted for violations of grammar, than practice or knowledge of it pronoun needed A report in the Centralia (WI) Enterprise and Tribune, 26 Jan., 1895, p. 4., notes that, because the English language has no pronouns of the common gender, and since Colorado s General Assembly has three women members, every sentence abounds with he or she, his or her, him or her, until the ears and brains of the Representatives are weary. hoo Weekly Standard and Express (Blackburn, England), 10 August, 1895, p. 8. Brief discussion of Lancashire dialect pronoun; although usually thought to be feminine, the writer asserts that it is a pronoun of indifferent personality, used for both masculine and feminine, but not neuter. thon, thonself Editor, San Francisco Call, 3 Oct., 1895, p. 6. The editor wrongly attributes thon to Prof. Henry G. Williams, who uses it in the latest edition of his textbook, Outlines of Psychology. Here is the note from Williams book (3 rd ed., Syracuse, NY: C. W. Bardeen) explaining his use of thon, which he identifies as a new word, though he does not claim to have invented it. Williams hopes that thon will soon become euphonious :

41 Baron, The words that failed, 41 But the editor of the Call writes that, although a new pronoun may be needed, thon is strange and not euphonious. thon A correction from Eugene O. Lewis, in the Hillsboro, OH, News-Herald, 20 June, 1895, p. 1, notes that thon has been around for a decade without achieving much success, despite its warm reception by Francis A. March and Charles Eliot Norton, well-known philologists: Professor March said, What Mr. Converse says of the want of such a pronoun is all good, and he forms his thon very simply. I do not know that any other vocable would have so good a chance for this vacancy. But Lewis adds, Our common language is the outcome of our daily needs, rather than the result of a philologist s labors in his study, new pronoun not needed The Milwaukee Journal (30 July, 1895, p. 4) argues that he or she should be avoided, and that none of the new pronouns have ever made the least impression. en, ens, enself, generic woman Our editor s bi-weekly letter, Lucifer The Light-Bearer (Topeka, Kansas), 15 Nov., 1895, p. 2. A radical feminist essay which lists the lack of a common-gender pronoun as one of the discriminations as to words to which women writers, teachers, lecturers acquiesce, and which make women a lower class, a primary or a minor class, and therefore, rightfully, a subject class.

42 Baron, The words that failed, 42 The author says, They have rights who dare to take them, and calls on women to be aware of the defects of vocabulary that are the causes that enslave themselves and their sisters. She urges that woman be the generic term instead of man, and calls for the adoption of a common-gender pronoun. pronoun needed Editorial Suggestions, Boston Daily Advertiser, 7 Dec., 1895, p. 4. This anti-feminist writer can t resist stereotyping women as big spenders in an example that he quotes, showing the difficulty so often experienced for want of a personal pronoun in the singular number of the common gender: The American is noted for his wasteful propensities. We say his but we mean hers in this connection. He goes on, We may use the masculine pronoun... on the ground that the men embrace the women, adding snarkily, that if women spent less, the men would embrace the women oftener than they do. How a common-gender pronoun would help this writer s problem is not entirely clear generic he Helen M. Gougar, the Indiana suffragist and first woman admitted to the state bar, writes in the Kansas Agitator (Garnett, KS), 14 Feb., 1896, p. 4, In written criminal law, the feminine pronouns are never used. All criminal law is expressed in the male gender. If a she can become a he to tax and punish, why cannot a she become a he to vote? And indeed, women were liberally included in the criminal law s generic he: one month later, the Boston Daily Advertiser reports that Judge Lathrop of the Supreme Court denied a habeas corpus petition by a Ella Hill who claimed wrongful arrest because the citation issued... against her was not grammatical, as it used the masculine gender instead of the feminine gender pronoun. (4 March, 1896, p. 2) hin; ta, tas, tan The search for a neutral and inclusive pronoun affects organizations from the federal government to the local youth group. The writer of this article objects to the new constitution of the Young People s League of Trinity Episcopal Church, in Albany, NY, which recently printed an edition of its constitution with hin used for a personal pronoun of common gender.... There is no call for any such word, there is no philological warrant for the word proposed. A genius in Michigan some time ago proposed the word ta, declined ta, tas, tan, for the same purpose.... The English language is ample enough in its present form for all uses and the Young People s league of Trinity church would do well to suppress the last edition of its constitution. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 9 Mar, 1896, p. 6. singular they The writer prefers this to an invented pronoun, cites its use by respected authors like Ruskin and Fielding, and argues that ninety-nine out of a hundred, if they haven t the fear of the schoolmaster before their eyes, will use it too. [The philologist and professor is often called on to give us the right pronoun, but the lowly teacher is

43 Baron, The words that failed, 43 blamed for making us afraid to adopt new words.] The writer goes on, In fact, this usage is now so common in conversation that it may almost be said to have become a wellestablished colloquialism.... The queen s English must step down from the throne when the sovereign people take it in hand. Chatauquan for June, rpt. in Detroit Free Press, 3 June, 1896, p thon Converse s word was defined in Funk and Wagnall s Standard Dictionary of the English Language as early as its first edition, specifically in vol. II, published in Entries for heer, hiser, and himer were added in 1913 (see below). Here is the entry from vol II of the dictionary, published in 1897, crediting Converse with coining the word in 1858: The supplement to the Standard Dictionary (1903) contained this additional information about thon in entries on pronoun agreement and usage Ms. This headline about the bankruptcy of the actress Mrs. Leslie Carter, aka Caroline D.

44 Baron, The words that failed, 44 Carter, uses the honorific Ms, though it may have been chosen simply to save space. All other references to her in the article and to the story covered by many other newspapers around the country identify her as Mrs. Carter thon The Denton (MD) Journal, 16 Dec., 1899, p. 2, reports that Converse coined thon in No further sourcing indicated for this early date heesh, hizzer, himmer (ca. 1865); singular they A writer in the Louisville Courier Journal, 10 May, 1900, p. 4, says that heesh, hizzer, and himmer were coined thirty or forty years earlier, possibly a reference to the earlier hiser mentioned above, and discusses singular they, still regarded as ungrammatical but common in speech and even found in careful writing, though generally by oversight. Grammarians have not been able to halt its use, and usage may ultimately force a recognition of the plural pronouns as singular pronouns also when the common gender is used. The writer concludes, At all events, an epicene pronoun will have to be developed in some way; one made to order is not likely to be accepted. That is not the law of language, except, possibly, in the case of the names of new inventions, such as the telegraph, telephone, and the like. thon The Indianapolis Journal, 18 June, 1900, p. 5., reprints a comment by a Miss Gilder in the Critic that Williams revival of thon will drop out of sight again very soon. The new word is an exceedingly useful one, but unhappily it is not slang, and the dull old easy-going world will go on in its stupid old slipshod way, calling a man they or he, and a woman they or she, till the last syllable of recorded time pronoun and honorific needed The Charlotte Observer, 20 Jan., 1901, p. 4., calls for the invention of a sexless singular pronoun as well as a polite masculine prefix that will indicate... whether or not a gentleman, simply Mr. is married or not? Ms. The Springfield Republican, 10 Nov., 1901, p. 4, prints the earliest reference to this marriage-neutral honorific for women, a form of address which crops up again from the 1930s through the 1950s, but did not take hold until the 1970s. The writer, who uses a singular they, says that Ms. does homage to the sex without expressing any views as to their domestic situation, adding that the title might be pronounced Mizz, the Southern American English pronunciation of Miss the south is characterized here as bucolic where a slurred Mis does duty for Miss and Mrs. alike. It seems, from the tenor of the article, that the writer is reporting an earlier suggestion rather than inventing the form.

45 Baron, The words that failed, 45 generic he Report that Chief Judge McSherry of Maryland s Court of Appeals denied the application of Etta H. Maddox for admission to the bar because the Act of 1898 regulating admission to the bar... uses the masculine pronoun or adjective throughout in referring to the applicants. Unless this can be interpreted to include the feminine gender, then the court can find no legislation upon which to base a right to admit the present applicant. By common law no woman could take part in any public affairs. It is clear that the act mentioned did not intend to enlarge the class allowed to practice law... The court takes no ground against the admission of women, but holds itself without power to do so. Frederick, MD, News, 22 Nov. 1901, p masculine-only he The writer of Not wanted in Maryland, Leavenworth, KS, Times, 2 Jan. 1902, p. 5., and The Biloxi (MS) Daily Herald, 6 Feb., 1902, p. 2, reports on a Maryland State Supreme Court decision excluding women from the bar because state law refers to lawyers as he: Unless this can be interpreted to include the feminine gender,

46 Baron, The words that failed, 46 then the court can find no legislation upon which to base a right to admit the present applicant. Maryland was at the time one of the few states that barred women attorneys, and in response to the decision, the state legislature rewrote the law and the first woman was admitted to the Maryland bar later that year. However, changing the language of the law didn t necessarily change attitudes: women were not admitted to the Maryland Bar Association until the 1950s. singular they; generic he Bertha Moore, in Influence of language, in Lucifer The Light Bearer (Chicago, IL), 25 Sept., 1902, p. 290, finds that the grammatical error is not singular they, it is the common-gender he, his, and him, usages she calls prejudicial, detrimental and unjust. Moore argues that since you can be both singular and plural, it is equally as proper to use the pronouns they, their and them, both in the singular and plural number hesh, hish, hush, hoosh, hash (jocular) The St. Paul Globe, 28 Jan., 1903, p. 4., reports on the New York Sun s thirty-year battle to endorse a common-gender pronoun in the battle for justice to women. The paper rejects alternating between the generic he and the generic she, and finds thon unworkable: it made the proofreader atrabilious, and resulted in the following damage in the editorial department: 7 chairs, 11 transom windows, 17 yards of plaster, three dozen electric light bulbs and the serious abridgment of the covers and pages of the dictionaries Mergenthalers disabled... three proofreaders Sing-Singed and so on. The Sun coined hesh, hish, hush, hesh, hoosh, with the plural hash, but to no avail. generic he Chicago Daily Tribune, 21 June, 1903, p. 38. The Tribune reports that Baltimore appointed eight women as truant officers because the City Solicitor ruled that in all legislation a masculine term was held to include the feminine except where it would be absurd or unreasonable. The paper notes that a year before, Maryland s Supreme Court denied the application of a woman to practice law because of the same statute pronoun needed Luther Knight asks, Why does the correspondent at Berry not write

47 Baron, The words that failed, 47 every week? Wish he would not disappoint so much. I enjoy his (or her). [Mr. Editor, there is the greatest poverty in our language; I wish some of your readers would invent a common-gender pronoun of the third person singular number]. Fayette, AL, Banner, 20 April, 1905, p. 9. pronoun and common-gender honorific needed Philological, Booklovers Magazine, rpt. Detroit Free Press, 11 June, 1905, p 34, and Dallas Morning News, 2 July, 1905, p. 14, calls for a new pronoun, and notes that thon has not been widely adopted. What is interesting about this call for new words to fill the gaps in English is the request to help business writers by coining a new honorific, or title, an acceptable noun to designate a correspondent of either sex. The earliest of these honorifics found so far, Mx, dates from 1977 and was added in December, 2015, to the OED composite pronoun wanted Fergus County (Montana) Democrat, 2 January, 1902, p. 8. The writer calls for a composite, or portmanteau, word, to express both he and she, and what is sometimes more important, to express neither he nor she. generic he The Cincinnati Enquirer, 17 July, 1906, p. 3, reports that the Ohio Attorney General found that women may act as members of County and City Boards of Teachers Examiners: In the law the pronouns he and his are used, and are the sole indications that the Legislature intended the appointment to be conferred upon male persons. Section 25 provides that unless the context shows that another sense was intended words in the masculine include the feminine gender. its Letter to the Buffalo Express, 26 Oct., 1906, p. 9, signed Ignorance asks whether its is the appropriate pronoun to use to refer to a couple in this sentence: The happy young couple was the recipient of sincere good wishes from its many friends. The editor replies by citing Crabbe, who recommends their, since its, as a neuter, can t refer to couple, a noun which refers to both genders. But the editor prefers recasting the sentence without a pronoun: The many friends of the happy couple offered their sincere good wishes thon, e, es The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the revival of thon, a much-needed pronoun of dual gender, by the Brooklyn Eagle. The paper notes that new words are entering the language in areas as diverse as electrical science, golf, and tiddledewinks, and quotes the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle on how to get a new pronoun adopted: If a few high class newspapers, philologists and educators were to start such a movement... there would be a rapid falling into line and... the dictionaries would soon be compelled to recognize the new word. But the writer prefers the pronouns e, es instead: No lack of euphony there, no harsh consonant sound as in thon. Kansas City Times, 8 Dec. 1908, p. 6.

48 Baron, The words that failed, generic he The Guardian, 21 April, 1909, p. 9, reports on parliamentary discussion of a bill to punish disruptive visitors to the gallery. Targeting suffragist disturbances during the previous House of Commons session, the bill provided for arrest without warrant, along with fines and imprisonment. The socialist Labour MP Keir Hardie objected to the bill because, among other things, the wording of the bill, with the use of the masculine gender, made it doubtful whether a court of law would construe it as applying to women. [Harding was probably wrong to be concerned: since the law doled out a punishment rather than conferring a benefit, it s likely that the courts would have treated he as gender neutral.] generic he In an article about the paper box industry, Hollis W. Field feels the need to explain his use of generic he when most of the factory workers he discusses are women: This use of the masculine pronoun... is forced merely through the English lack of the neuter gender. Chicago Tribune, May 23, 1909, p. 3. e, es, em H. C. W., of Baltimore, writes to the New York Sun, 25 June, 1909, p. 8, to suggest a paradigm based on e that the writer invented many years ago, the logical extension of the pronoun I, the interjection O, and the pronoun and substantive you and ewe. generic he and elections Invoking a sexist stereotype, the Davenport Daily Times, 24 July, 1909, p. 3, reports dismissively on the rumor that a number of Colorado women were considering a run for the U.S. House: It is quite possible that some woman candidate may be found willing to confess to being 25 years of age, but how she would manage to avoid collision with that word he in the constitution has not yet been suggested. The writer notes that it is up to the House to decide on the eligibility of its members, and the speaker of the House would have to be convinced to accept he as the equivalent of he or she. Three days later, a writer argues in a similar post in the Des Moines Daily Tribune (27 July 1909, p. 4) that Congressman admits of but one interpretation, and that no official communication ever uses that word Congresswoman. Furthermore, the Constitution refers to representatives as he, and he refers to a man, nothing more nor less. If a woman is elected to Congress from Colorado, in addition to admitting she is over twentyfive, she will be disqualified... by an accident in our language which provided three sets of pronouns as arbitrary symbols of the three genders. The writer holds out one faint hope in the form of a Constitutional pronoun amendment (notice he doesn t call for a universal suffrage amendment): Perhaps in time the women can get the constitution amended to read he or she, or, possibly, she exclusively. Not long after that, the Baltimore (MD) American, 7 Aug., 1909, p. 8, reprints an article from the Manchester Union, headed Gender in politics, about Sarah Platt Decker, candidate for Congress in Colorado. The writer wonders whether the use of the masculine pronoun in the Constitution would bar women from serving in Congress. Article 1 provides that no person shall be a representative... who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen (Art. I, sec. 2; emphasis added).

49 Baron, The words that failed, 49 According to the writer, Strict adherents to the letter of the Constitution maintain that the presence of the masculine pronoun, and the absence of any other, obviously renders ineligible any person of the feminine persuasion. The issue was raised again in 1916, when the first woman was elected to Congress, and the masculine pronoun proved not to be a problem. And the Oakland (CA) Tribune, Aug 11, 1909, p. 7, reports that the Regents of the University of California accepted the opinion of University of California s president that a poetry prize referring to the winner with the pronoun he could be given to a woman as well as a man: According to Pres. Wheeler, Under the best usage he is understood to include the feminine as well as the masculine. But not in Maryland: Although some states accepted the inclusiveness of he in statutory language, the Baltimore Sun reports on Oct. 10, 1909, p. 12, that Socialist Party member Mrs. Ada Smith Lang would not be allowed to run for the Maryland House of Delegates. The counsel for the Board of Election Supervisors found that there is no language in the state constitution that gives women the explicit right to hold office, and interpreting the pronoun he to include women would lead to a forced and unreasonable construction and utterly absurd conclusion in the light of our entire scheme of government under which females have not the right of suffrage, and such construction would violate not only the letter of the Constitution but the spirit also. Lang, who vowed to sue, would run unsuccessfully for both the U.S. House (1920) and, as a Labor candidate, for the Senate (1934). The next day, 11 October, 1909, a Sun editorial supports that Board of Election opinion, citing Art. 3, sec. 9 of the 1867 Maryland constitution, which uses the masculine pronoun referring to members of the legislature, in context of Art. 1, sec. 6 of the code, which reads, the masculine includes all genders, except where such construction would be absurd or unreasonable. The editorial also cites recent approval by the Court of Appeals of a woman as State Librarian, a constitutional office, even though the masculine pronoun is used each time to refer to the official. The writer concludes, It would seem to be absurd, however, to elect a person to the Legislature who does not possess the right to vote, and it can be safely assumed that the question of the eligibility of females for office did not once present itself to the minds of the members of the convention of 1867.

50 Baron, The words that failed, thon; nonbinary gender Proposing a new gender. Baltimore Sun, Jan. 10, 1910, p. 4. The writer says, of thon, No so many years ago the need for the new pronoun was not pressing. He then embarks on a diatribe about modern, nonbinary gender: The word American, for example, then meant a male citizen only. An American woman was called an American woman. There were then no female wrestlers or male milliners. But today the old barriers of sex grow shadowy and faint. Women are taking the citadel of the decadent sterner sex by storm. Already the female barber, baseball player, anarchist, theologian and horse trainer are commonplace. And men grow feminine as the dear girls grow masculine. The Chicago women s clubs demand that all schoolboys be taught plain sewing and home cooking. Men eat chocolates, patronize manicures, go to matinees. Thus thon seems to meet a growing want.... Perhaps it might be well, while the subject is under discussion, to attempt the creation of an entirely new gender, for the purpose of facilitating reference to the growing caste of manly women and womanly men. hier (or heir), hierself Let each one choose for h-i-e-r-self. Baltimore Sun, 12 Feb., 1910, p. 5. E. P. Jots, of New Decatur, Alabama, writes in response to the Sun s editorial on thon with the suggestion that hier is preferable since it combines his and her. um Walter Scott Priest, a pastor, proposes um, um s out of necessity when a parishioner gave a generous donation to the church fund but did not want their gender to be revealed in the announcement. The congregation laughed at the announcement, but Priest persisted, offering plural forms ums, ums. Wichita Daily Eagle, 20 March, 1910, p. 11. thon Article reprinted from Lippincott s Magazine on How thon would work finds the new pronoun a luxury the English language has thus far had the fortitude to forgo and derives the word from Greek, although it has no connection to Greek. Meadville, PA, Evening Republican, 29 Aug., 1910, p he-er, his-er, him-er; hisers, himerself Fred S. Pond, of Chicago, proposed these pronouns in a letter to the Mansfield, OH, News-Journal, 21 March, 1911, p. 4. Pond later told Ella Flagg Young about his coinages, and she initially took credit for coining them in Chicago a few months later claiming that she thought them up on the way to a

51 Baron, The words that failed, 51 meeting of school principals (see below, 1912). Although Young has typically been credited with the neologism, she did admit to discussing the forms with Pond, though she did not acknowledge that it was he who first offered the words. Pond finds the generic he inadequate, and he rejects singular they because it substitutes one error for another. He argues, too, that he or she is too awkward, and so he proposes his paradigm, which blends masculine and feminine. The disjunctive is hisers, the reflexive, himerself. Pond acknowledges that the forms sound strange and perchance ludicrous, but he feels that people would get used to them, as they have gotten used to other new words. They would enable the speaker whoever heer may be to be correct and intelligible. singular they The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 29 Oct., 1911, p. 4, praises novelist Mrs. Humphrey Ward for using singular they and cites Prof. Henry Sweet s defense of the form: Singular indefinite pronouns such as anyone, everybody, whoever are referred to with they to avoid the necessity of distinguishing between he and she he er, him er, his er, his er s Ella Flagg Young. Chicago Tribune, 7 Jan., 1912, sec. 1, p. 7. Young, Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools and president of the National Education Association, says she had long felt the need for such a word and that she had just invented the paradigm on the way to a meeting with school principals (but see above for Pond s invention of the words the previous year). Young used her new pronouns without warning in her speech, and when members of the audience asked about it, she explained her invention. Principals then resolved to spread the pronoun in their schools. Although the Tribune report has Young coining what she called her duo-personal pronouns on the way to her January 6 meeting, she said later that the duo pronouns came out of an earlier discussion with Fred S. Pond, of Chicago (see 1911, above). Insisting that language belongs to all, Young did not acknowledge that it was Pond

52 Baron, The words that failed, 52 who had initially come up with the forms, suggesting instead that it was a joint effort: Mr. Fred S. Pond of Chicago and myself had talked over the duo pronoun before I ever mentioned it. Mr. Pond and myself agreed there was need for a terse form of mentioning the third person without identifying that person by gender....we developed the words. ( Wanted: A Duo-Personal Pronoun. New York Sun, February 11, 1912, p. 15); despite this backtracking, the question remains, did the Superintendent of Schools, known as a progressive educator, actually plagiarize a pronoun?). Young told the Sun that language change cannot be dictated, and anyone is free to make suggestions for its improvement: the language belongs to us all. In her interview, however, she uses a generic masculine instead of her common-gender pronoun: none of us is custom or law unto himself. Young insists that her coinages are mere suggestions that will depend for their success on approval by experts and by users of the language. Lexicographer Isaac K. Funk wrote to the New York Times that, although he preferred thon, Young s pronouns, like Wagner s music, are better than they sound (New York Times, 12 January, 1912, p. 12). Funk added heer, hiser, and himer to the next edition of his Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary (see 1913; you could look thon up in your Funk and Wagnalls since the dictionary s debut in 1893). Young was later attacked for a proposal to teach any foreign language whatsoever, should there be sufficient demand (Reno Gazette-Journal, 5 March, 1912, p. 4): Ella, you are off wrong again. Your bad break in the matter of common gender pronouns was pardonable, but this latest innovation cannot be excused or permitted. According to the Gazette- Journal, schools only succeed when they use a common language: If the children of foreign born parents are to be permitted to receive instruction in the language of the fatherland it will be next to impossible to instill American principles and awaken the thrill of American patriotism. The headline below credits Young with coining the pronouns, even if it doesn t get the spelling quite right. [Richmond (IA) Palladium-Item, 9 Jan, 1912, p. 12] hers The Topeka (KS) State Journal, 10 Jan., 1912, p. 4, comments that Young s new pronoun is fine, but it was coined after the necessity had passed. The women are rapidly acquiring control of everything, and plain old fashioned hers can be used in nearly every instance. whosin The Arizona Star (Tucson) announces Young s pronouns with the page one headline, What s WHOSIN? (Jan. 7, 1912, p. 1.)

53 Baron, The words that failed, 53 she er, her er St. Louis Superintendent of Schools Ben Blewett told local reporters that he preferred the generic masculine to Young s new pronouns. Calling pronouns generic, not genderic, Blewett insisted, generically we are all men, at least until the feminist revolution takes hold: In fact when women achieve their ambition to enter all the walks of life in competition with men the feminine form of pronoun may come into general use.... Miss Young is represented as suggesting he er. Why not: She er and why not her er instead of him er.? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8 January, 1912, p. 14). Picking up on Blewett s example of she er, an anonymous St. Louis critic argues that the female-first cogendrous pronouns are not pleasing to the ear because men are simply more harmonious than women: The masculine pronoun is more euphonic than the feminine, because well, is it because the thing with which it is consociated, and for which it stands, is better attuned to the laws of harmony, and of cadence, as expressed in nature? (St. Louis Globe-Democrat; rpt., Colfax (WA) Gazette, 19 January, 1912, p. 4). And George Harvey, the influential editor of Harper s Weekly, suggests that Young s common-gender pronouns signal the end times for language: When man ceases to include women we shall cease to need a language, and won t care any more about pronouns (Harper s Weekly, 27 January, 1912, p. 5). heris, herim New York Tribune, 8 January, 1912, p. 6. Editorial comment on Young s pronoun says, perhaps dismissively, In this age of feminism, if we must have such a word wouldn t it be better to change the order and make it heris [her-his] and herim

54 Baron, The words that failed, 54 [her-him]? Besides, it would be more euphonious. thon The Guthrie Daily Leader (Guthrie, Oklahoma), Fri, Jan 12, 1912, p. 8, reminds readers interested in Young s new pronoun that thon, as championed by Bishop John H. Vincent, a co-founder of the Chautauqua movement, was widely used in good Chautauquas in the late 1880s and early 1890s, but it never came into general use. It-er The Buffalo Enquirer, 2 Feb., 2012, p. 4, reports on the pronouns invented by Buffalo native Ella Flagg Young to fill the long felt want of our language for the third person singular common gender pronoun. that s all, adding, without comment, How do you like It-er? common-gender honorific Los Angeles Times, 27 Jan., 1912, p. 13. The writer alludes to Young s coinage in discussing a problem the San Francisco Board of Supervisors encountered in trying to find an appropriate way to address a memo to the two men and two women on the city s Board of Education: No form has been discovered by which that body properly may be addressed. Dear Sirs and Madams was withdrawn because one of the women is unmarried; Dear Miss, Madame, and Sirs was proposed, but rejected. Ladies and Gents received brief consideration. Dear Board of Education was rejected because it sounded like the letters to Santa Claus. e This short notice without comment appears in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 20 Feb., 1912, p. 13: At a meeting of the Delaware County Teachers Association... the president, Prof. W. C. Joslin, principal of the Media High school, proposed e as a third person, singular number, common gender pronoun. heor, hisor, himor A. E. Schuyler, of Edison Park, Illinois, proposes this paradigm, printed in the Charlevoix (Michigan) County Herald, 27 Apr., 1912, p. 2. Schuyler notes that these words will not conflict, in sound if not in spelling, with other words already in use. They may be hyphenated he-or, his-or, him-or. hisn, hern Critical of Ella Flagg Young s paradigm, the Salem, OR, Statesman Journal 26 May, 1912, notes, There were those that went farther and recommended hisen and hern.

55 Baron, The words that failed, heer, hiser, hisers, himer The paradigm appears in this year s edition of Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language, under three separate head words. It is documented in a letter to the dictionary from Fred S. Pond, dated 3 Feb., 1912, and accompanied by a citation from Ella Flagg Young printed in the Chicago Tribune and dated 7 Jan, Here are the entries, from a later edition, joined together for convenience: Note, however, that in 1915, Frank H. Vizetelly, lexicographer and usage expert at Funk and Wagnalls, labeled heer, himer, and hiser uncouth, adding, to the modern cultivated eye they seem repulsive; their appearance seems to do violence to the genius of the language, and yet like forms were in the mouths of the common people a century ago; in fact, they still survive in certain English dialects. Frank H. Vizetelly, 1915, Essentials of English Speech and Literature (New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls), p Vizetelly did not include entries for heer, hiser, and himer when he edited the Funk and Wagnalls Desk Standard Dictionary. E, The Buffalo Morning Express and Illustrated Buffalo Express, 6 April, 1912, p. 10, reprints a Philadelphia Press report of the suggestion by W. C. Joslin, principal of Media (PA) High School, to use e as the common gender pronoun. Joslin said, If a and I and o are words, then there can be no objection to e. Example: If any person in the room wishes a copy of this let e raise e s hand. See similar recommendation in (1934) hie, hiez, hie (phonetic spellings of he, hes, he); ov hie Language reformer Mont

56 Baron, The words that failed, 56 Follick, D. Phil. (Sorbonne), British spelling reformer, and Member of Parliament, in The Influence of English (London: Williams & Norgate, 1934), pp Follick prefers to reduce all third person singular pronouns to this simplified version of the masculine paradigm. He further suggests discarding the possessive altogether in favor of the prepositional phrase, ov hie, of he. marriage-neutral Miss The feminist Fola LaFollette proposes the honorific in a speech on Breaking into the human race at The Cooper Union on Feb. 20. It s not clear but possible that the suggestion is related to the 1901 Ms., pronounced mizz, and the derivation of Ms. from Miss. New York Times, 21 Feb., 1914, p. 18.

57 Baron, The words that failed, singular they, them, their The New English Dictionary (as it was known until 1933, when the first edition was completed and retitled the Oxford English Dictionary) published the volume containing the letter T, tracing singular their to the fourteenth century and noting singular they and them as well, while also warning readers that grammarians considered it an error. The entry for their reads, Often used in relation to a singular n. or pronoun denoting a person, after each, every, either, neither, no one, every one, etc. Also so used instead of his or her, when the gender is inclusive or uncertain. Cf. they pron. 2, them pron. 2; nobody 1b, somebody. (Not favoured by grammarians.) The definition from the first edition was reprinted unchanged in the 2 nd ed of 1989; the 3 rd ed updated the entry in 2013, and the usage comment was softened to read This use has sometimes been considered erroneous. generic he; singular they And to prove the OED s warning correct, that same year the lexicographer James C. Fernald, in English Grammar Simplified (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1916; 4ed, 1917) assures his readers that the generic he may be used to refer indifferently to persons of either sex, and condemns the use of singular they: The fact that the plural genderless form is so convenient in its own place will not allow us to use it for the singular (p. 33). Fernald further argues that the only way to refer to two nouns of different genders when generic he proves inadequate is to rewrite the sentence: Two or more nouns or pronouns of different genders and singular number... can not take a pronoun in the singular number that will be appropriate for both or all.... The best course is to change the form of expression (54). Vizetelly (see 1932) later cites with approval Fernald s condemnation of singular they. generic he But there are times when the generic nature of he may be contested. The Washington Post cites unnamed students of the Federal Constitution who warn that the constitutional use of the masculine pronoun might prevent the seating of Jeanette Rankin, of Montana, the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives ( Argue That He in Constitution Might Bar Miss Rankin From House, 12 Nov., 1916, p. 6). The relevant part of the Constitution reads, No Person shall be a Representative... who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen (Art. I, sec. 2, emphasis added; see entry for 1909, on the same issue). The Post quotes Barton Payne, a prominent Chicago judge, who dismisses this objection: As for the he in the Federal Constitution, I don t believe it would be construed so as to prevent Miss Rankin from accepting the seat in Congress. Even so, John P. Irish, a leading California Democrat and vocal opponent of votes for women, relied on constitutional grammar to register his objection to Rankin in a letter to the Oakland, CA, Tribune, 2 Dec., 1916, p. 8, The use of the pronoun He in the constitutional qualifications of a member of that House is by plain intention of the constitutional convention a permanent limitation of membership to men.... He is held to include both genders only in penal statutes and in the revenue laws.... He is not a bisexual pronoun... and members [of the House] who vote that it is will be guilty of

58 Baron, The words that failed, 58 perjury, for they will not have upheld the constitution. In contrast, the Woodland, CA, Daily Democrat, 21 Nov,, 1916, p. 2, supports the interpretation of masculine pronouns in the Constitution as common gender: The highest court has held that pronouns in the masculine form are really neuter gender when relating to a subject that embraces both sexes. Representative is no more masculine than feminine. And another writer is sure Rankin s election will prove that he is a common gender pronoun, and help to drive out the popular, idiomatic use of singular they. In an argument that could come straight out of Fernald s grammar, the writer argues, The use of he as a common pronoun referring to person is well established in law and good usage. But it has not become idiomatic. The tendency in conversation is to use the anomalous they despite its plural form, merely because it is of common gender. Perhaps the controversy over Miss Rankin s eligibility, which is altogether likely to be settled in her favor, will help to popularize the usage of he as a common gender pronoun. Marshalltown (IA) Evening Times-Republican, 23 Nov. 1916, p. 6, citing the Minneapolis Journal. pronoun needed As if to complete the set of pronominal arguments, the Lincoln, NE, State Journal, 1 Dec., 1916, p. 8, proclaims that Rankin s election underscores the inadequacy of the English pronoun system: The need of a common gender pronoun is now official. Some technicality burdened brain has discovered that Miss Rankin of Montana may be ineligible for a seat in congress because at one place the constitution refers to a congressman as he. Now as a matter of fact few days pass in any life without the use of the masculine pronoun to include both men and women.... There is a longstanding demand for a pronoun equivalent to he or she and him or her but the desired word has not appeared.... When the congresswomen get the balance of power in congress they will doubtless fill by law the gap in the language which causes all this trouble. thon But some observers knew there already was a common gender pronoun just waiting for its moment. Yet another writer discusses the dilemma facing the House of Representatives when they seat Jeanette Rankin: will Rankin be recognized by the Speaker as the lady from Montana, the person from Montana, or the member from Montana? After comments about common-gender nouns like person and member, the writer holds out little hope of success for invented words like thon: It is better than a thousand words of recognized orthographical standing: but no newspaper and no college can give it good repute. It must come up from the people, like slang, not down from the highbrows ( His dilemma about her, Morning Oregonian, Portland OR, 26 Nov., 1916, p. 12).

59 Baron, The words that failed, hesh, shis, shim Thomas W. Gilmer, who rejects the generic masculine and claims that, in view of the nineteenth amendment... she is more likely to include him, offers this paradigm, assuring readers that it would sound natural after a little usage. Sunday Star (Washington, DC), 23 Nov. 1919, p. 3. The next day, Francis de Sales Ryan quotes James C. Fernald, editor of Funk and Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary, which includes thon and heer, who insists that the masculine has always has always stood as the representative gender and still stands even in this period of militant feminism. Fernald rejects common-gender coinages, calling them life-preservers for word emergencies that are always impossible to inflate. Evening Star, 24 Nov. 1919, p. 2, 1920 vey The American social activist Warren Edwin Brokaw prints this notice on the first page of each edition of his journal The Equitist and uses vey and veys regularly in the text: Vey is a common pronoun, meaning EITHER he OR she necessary for accurate, precise and grammatical expression. [The Equitist, no. 96, Jan. 2, 1920, p. 1.] Brokaw, who is credited with inventing the pronoun (see below, 1929) but does not claim credit in his journal, implies that generic he is not generic, and that singular they is not grammatical. thon [see 1884] A correspondent signing themselves Evacustes A. Phipson writes to the editor of the short-lived journal English: For all the lovers of the English language, etc., to recommend thon. The editor replies, the suggestion that thon should be adopted... is at least as old as 1858, when Charles Crozat Converse, of Erie, Pennsylvania, put it forward.... but it has not been taken up in the sixty years and more that it has been before the public.... There is no object in our attempting to provide a home for lost causes, and we resolutely set our face against any attempt to force the language. English has grown naturally; long may she continue to do so. [Jan., 1920, pp ] In his proposal, published in The Critic in 1884, Converse does say he had come up with thon earlier, after trying other options, but he doesn t give the precise date of coinage. This comment by the unnamed editor of English, picked up a few years later by H. L. Mencken in The American Language (2 nd ed, 1921), is one of two references that suggest backdating thon to 1858 (see also 1899). hir The Klamath Falls, OR, Evening Herald, 2 Sept., 1920, p. 4, rejects the Sacramento Bee s coinage, which it finds much worse than thon: Enthusiastic word reformers who believed in Converse and his thon died of senile debility while watching and waiting for somebody with the courage to use it.... The generic use of the masculine covers every possible case with sufficient accuracy. The paper quotes the Stockton Record as well: [Hir] looks as if the one using it doesn t know how to spell. The Oakland Tribune, 20 Aug., 1920, p. 16, is a little more optimistic about the Bee s venture.

60 Baron, The words that failed, 60 generic he Washington, DC, Evening Star, 20 Sept., 1920, p. 2, discusses the possibility that the president will appointment a woman as a city Commissioner. Local attorneys have protested that par. 7, sec. 2 of the organic act of 1878 refers to commissioners as he, but former Commissioner Henry B. F. Macfarland finds that a woman commissioner would be perfectly legal, since par. 2 of the City Code says that masculine references in the law include all genders, except where such conception would be absurd or unreasonable. Not content with that observation, Macfarland goes on to insist that man embraces woman su from the Spanish, in the Gulfport (MS) Daily Herald, 11 Feb., 1921, p. 2. The writer observes that since the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, some women... are insisting that the grammatical or historically approved use of man, he, his or him to refer to both man and woman, be subjected to the amendment and this they consider fundamental, constitutional and foundational.... The modern woman feels that man is putting something over by use of the words he, him, his, although they are of common gender when used with reference to a class and used as a collective noun. generic he It s 1921, and Maryland is still agonizing over the question of women barred from public office because of a pronoun. The League of Women voters sued after a ruling by Attorney General Alexander Armstrong that the use of the masculine pronoun in connection with an office barred a woman as incumbent. However, the Secretary of State agreed with the League that pronouns do not bar a woman from serving. Washington Post, 26 Feb., 1921, p thon, thone 6 April, 1922, p 1. Okolona (MS) Messenger, A new pronoun. The writer refers to a recent failed attempt by Senator W. A. Ellis to have the state legislature adopt a common-gender pronoun, and wrongly attributes thon to an Ohio school superintendent named White, ca , adding the form thone, a contraction of that one, and remarking on its usefulness in the context of votes for women: When the word was first proposed, we saw no real need of another personal pronoun as the language was fairly

61 Baron, The words that failed, 61 well expressive without its use. Now, however, since woman s sphere is so widened that she takes part in matters which were then considered wholly within the province of the sterner sex, such a word is needed and should come into use to lessen the burden on the language. he-she, his-her, him-her G. A. Kratzer, in the Llano Colonist (Leesville LA), 26, Aug., 1922 p. 6, comments on the lack of a neutral pronoun for referring to God: no really spiritual religionist would speak of God by any pronoun implying sex, if the English language had a pronoun of common gender.... The writer avoids the difficulty in his own writings by always using the compound pronouns He-She, His-Her, and Him- Her in referring to God. idn The Nebraska State Journal (12 Dec. 1922, p. 6. In a rhyming report written by Suavely L. Evans, in Folk Lore, says that A. N. Gossett, a prominent lawyer in Kansas City, MO, asked the state constitutional convention to replace all three genders with idn, for I don t know, a word common in gender that rhymes with hidden or widen. An account a month earlier in the Rolla, MO, Herald, 9 Nov. 1922, p. 3, reports that the suggestion of this new pronoun was greeted with levity, although the proposer said he was in earnest. Ms Under the headline, Our changing language, the Arizona Republic, 23 Dec., 1922, p. 4, calls for a new pronoun, in part because We do not think the feminists will always stand for the discrimination involved in his when referring at the same time to both males and females. The article includes an early mention of the honorific Ms.

62 Baron, The words that failed, 62 le, lis, lim O. C. Ludwig writes to the Arizona Republic, 25 Dec., 1922, p. 4, to recommend this paradigm, explaining, The L in connection with vowels has long been used in various languages to indicate gender hos The Lincoln, NE, Journal Star, 25 June, 1924, p. 12, alludes to a discussion of the need for a new pronoun in the Portland Express, but warns that pundits don t decree or prescribe words. The Star offers this from its correspondent Phil Ology, adding that a new pronoun cannot be forced. It must come spontaneously. Perhaps some maker of slang will pick up a word that will mean both he and she. That is the most feasible way to secure its general adoption pronoun needed The Arizona Star runs a 9-line snippet citing the call by Dr. Josiah H. Penniman, provost of the University of Pennsylvania, for coining a gender-neutral pronoun as the increasing number of girls at colleges and in business causes awkward circumlocutions, presumably his or her or explanations about why generic he includes women. 9 July, 1926, p. 2. hizzer The Lincoln State Journal recommends hizzer because the women vote now. Pointing to Calvin Coolidge s pre-election message, Let no voter abdicate their sovereign right of self-government at the election on Tuesday by failing to vote, the paper calls the use of singular they a technically lawless act.... But it was only such lawlessness as one commits who violates a stop signal in order to escape a collision. The paper goes on, Presidents like to obey the laws they are sworn to enforce. They should be relieved from a choice between lawlessness and foolishness. Rpt. in the Asbury Park, NJ, Press, 15 Nov., 1926, p ha, hez, hem The Forum 77 (1927): A writer responding to the Forum s call for

63 Baron, The words that failed, 63 new words to be included in a hypothetical dictionary of American English that would be published a decade hence, in 1937, calls for a bisexual pronoun and recommends this paradigm. Attributed by H. L. Mencken to Lincoln King, of Primghar, Iowa. (American Language, New York, Knopf, 4th ed., 1936, 460n). hesh (heesh), hizzer, himmer; on Linguist and educator Fred Newton Scott responds to King s suggestion of ha, hez, hem. by mentioning the earlier creation of on in The Forum 77 (1927): 754. Mencken adds, In 1934 James F. Morton, of the Paterson (N.J.) Museum, proposed to change hesh to heesh and to restore hiser and himer (American Language Supp. 2, 1948, 370). thon B. D. W. asks the Lincoln, NE, State Journal, 6 Aug., 1927, p. 4, whether thon has been added to the English language. The paper replies, without elaboration, While it appears in some dictionaries, this pronoun suggested in 1858 cannot be said to be incorporated into the English language singular they Wallace Rice reports that the Oxford English Dictionary has approved singular they (see above, 1916). English without a don t: Indefinite pronouns pronouns. Chicago Tribune, Oct 28, 1928, p shim; hes, shes Chas. W. Bush writes in the Wilmington, DE, News Journal, 16 March, 1929, p. 7, that English needs a neutral pronoun, and mentions that these forms have been suggested. pronoun wanted The prominent suffragist Lady Annette E. Matthews writes to The Times to argue that Prime Minister Baldwin s recent use generic he to refer to children in surely did not intend to exclude women in a recent speech on education, but it demonstrates the need for a bi-sex pronoun, which would remove from the newly enfranchised woman elector the absurd position of being left to the imagination, or appearing as an afterthought in parenthesis. [The Times (London), April 25, 1929, p. 17.]

64 Baron, The words that failed, 64 Matthews letter sparked a flurry of follow-up letters to The Times all from men recommending common-gender coinages or singular they: hesh, hier, hiers; su; tu, tum, tus; vey; they; hes; mun F. W. Garrison writes to the Times to remind readers of F. E. Brokaw s us of vey (see above, 1920; The Times [London], April 27, 1929, p. 8). Ulric Gantillon prefers su which fits the monosyllabic genius of English, but he is resigned that we shall continue to say they just as you is also singular. His or her. In the same number of The Times, the Rev. H. J. notes Robert Louis Stevenson s fanciful coinage of tu, tum, tus as the indirect pronouns of an invented language (The Times, April 30, 1929, p.12). Major-General Sir Reginald Pinney counters with indeclinable hes for all the third person pronouns of either or both sexes, and both singular and plural; and Mr. R. L. Wason opts for the Somerset dialect forms mun, muns, used locally not just for the third-person singular, but sometimes for all persons and numbers (The Times, May 6, 1929, p.12). And in a final letter in the series of responses, Richard Temple, who writes, new words are adopted, not for reasons pleasing to purists, but solely if the public likes them, seconds the earlier suggestion of hesh and hier, adding hiers. Temple also notes that a generic, indeclinable her was universal in the South Worcestershire dialect (The Times, May 8, 1929, p. 12). ca thir Sir John Adams; cited by Philip Howard, New Words for Old (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1977), che, chis, chim In a letter to Time, 10 March, 1930, p. 6, W. E. Fohl, of Pittsburgh, offers his coinage, first printed in a local newspaper. But Fohl s falls a bit short of the mark, though the use of his in the sample sentence that Fohl offers may in fact be a typo: Should a married pedagog s tribe increase while che is serving the college, an increase in tuition may necessarily be made, in order to cover and give chim a raise in his salary. common-gender pronoun The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 29 Dec., 1930, p. 14, runs a crossword puzzle with not one, but three clues calling for common-gender pronouns, an indication that solvers would be familiar enough with the words to answer successfully. See 13, 18, and 40 across:

65 Baron, The words that failed, 65 heesh A. A. Milne; cited by Maxwell Nurnberg, What s the Good Word? A New Way to Better English (N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1942, 88-90). Milne wrote, If the English language had been properly organised... there would be a word which meant both he and she, and I could write: If John or May comes, heesh will want to play tennis, which would save a lot of trouble. (A. A. Milne, The Christopher Robin Birthday Book, London: Methuen, 1930.) 1931 generic he The defense counsel in a New Jersey murder case hopes that his client will escape execution because the state s 1906 capital punishment law uses the masculine pronoun. He argues that the election laws were changed to include the feminine pronoun after passage of the 19 th Amendment, but the criminal laws were not, and that in a capital case, the law must be interpreted narrowly. However, the prosecution is confident that the criminal law covers both men and women. Asbury Park, NJ, Press, 27 June, 1931, pp. 1; singular they In How to Use English, Frank H. Vizetelly (New York: Grossett and Dunlap; Funk and Wagnalls, 1932, p. 599) writes that singular they is always incorrect

66 Baron, The words that failed, 66 and says that the only correct way to refer to two nouns of different genders is to rewrite the sentence. Dr. Viz, as he was popularly known, cites as his authority James C. Fernald, English Grammar Simplified, 1916, pp. 33; 54 (see above, 1916). Ms. M. J. Birshtein writes to the New York Times (May 29, 1932, p. E2) to ask whether it s appropriate to write Miss or M s (a form of Ms, presumably derived from Miss, though in the letter Birshtein suggests it may be taken by the recipient as unflattering) as a marriage-neutral title when writing to women whose marital status is not known. tra, trem, tres; ha, ham, shas In its Saturday Competition, the Guardian, 26 Oct., 1932, p. 18, offers a two guinea prize for the best list of ten most-needed words. Ha, hem, shas, proposed by Arthur L. Dakyns, of Manchester, took second prize of one guinea. The other paradigm did not win thon the pronoun is defined in Merriam-Webster s Second New International Dictionary (it does not appear in Webster s First or Webster s Third): she, shis, shim (gender-specific, tripartite parallel to he, his, him) Cited by Phillip B. Ballard, Thought and Language (London: Univ. of London Press, 1934), 7-8: At a women s conference some years ago a member got up and pointed out that the tyranny of man appeared no less in the laws of grammar than in the laws of the land. While the

67 Baron, The words that failed, 67 masculine personal pronoun had three distinct forms, he, his, and him, for the separate cases of the singular, the feminine pronoun had only two, she and her. She suggested as a remedy for this gross piece of injustice that the feminine pronoun should be declined she, shis, and shim. generic he A letter from Elizabeth A. Hall, on a hyperliteral reading of the law by the Indianapolis police chief, reports: The chief of police could not stop the Rabelaisian revelry of semi-nude dancers [because] his legal advisor told him that the omission of a mark of punctuation made the statute inapplicable to women. Hall goes on to note that Any eighth grade pupil could tell the chief that punctuation has nothing to do with the interpretation of the law. Whoever... makes, uses and utters may include both men and women, even though the masculine pronoun is used. Indianapolis News 14 Feb. 1934, p himorher; hes (pron. [his]), hir (pron. [hir]), hem; his n, her n The Post Impressionist. Washington Post, 20 Aug., 1935, p. 6. singular they Writing in his regular column in the Literary Digest, the well-known Funk and Wagnalls lexicographer and usage expert Frank H. Vizetelly approves of singular they ( The Lexicographer s Easy Chair, Literary Digest 120, July 6, 1935, p. 27): As we have no singular pronoun of the common gender, tho he is sometimes employed, a violation of grammatical concord is occasionally necessary, and the pronoun used with every one may then be plural... as both sexes are included in this pronoun. Vizetelly cites Samuel Johnson, along with Byron and Ruskin, as sufficient literary support for the usage. In his syndicated Associated Newspapers column, Right word in right place whose title is curiously devoid of definite articles Walter Curtis Nicholson prints the comments of one of his readers, Anna Burr, who disapproves of Vizetelly s support for singular they: Taking liberties such as Mr. Vizetelly sanctions would lead to taking other liberties. The English language can well afford to do without a singular pronoun of the common gender. The Missoulian, 3 Oct. 1935, p singular they W. C. Nicholson continues his multi-year attack on singular they, warning a correspondent that the form is not used by good modern authors or careful speakers on the public platforms. Right word in right place, The Missoulian 26 Jan., 1937, p. 4. Nicholson repeats that advice two years later, saying anybody as well as other indefinite pronouns such as any one, everybody, some one, no one and nobody is always in the singular number. The Missoulian, 16 Jan. 1939, p se, sim, sis Gregory Hynes, See? Liverpool Echo, 21 Sept.; cited by H. L. Mencken (American Language Supp. 2, 1948, 370).

68 Baron, The words that failed, thon (in vivo) In a health column, Dr. William Brady uses the gender-neutral coinage, followed by its definition in Webster s Second New International Dictionary (1934): Without being novelesque about it, one can say that the physiological age of a man or a woman depends on thon nutrition. The meticulous Dr. Webster defines thon as a proposed genderless pronoun of the third person, so it is not a typographical error. Davenport, IA, Daily Times, 25 Aug., 1942, p his or her The humorist Stephen Leacock takes an unnecessary swipe at feminism as he objects to the compound pronouns where we used merely to use his when I was young. In those rude days women didn t count for so much as now, except as angels, heroines and guiding stars, all dollar-a-year jobs. But the women s vote has set up a sort of timid deference that is always afraid of omitting or insulting them.... This his or her stuff gets particularly troublesome after such words as anybody, everybody, somebody and nobody etc. It tangles us in such forms as: Everybody nowadays has to have his or her ration card and if anybody lends his or her ration card to somebody then he or she must be careful to return it to him or her or else the inspector will make trouble for her or him. [American Bookman 1:1 (Winter 1944): ] thon, pl. thons J. C. B. writes to the Indianapolis News, 16 Feb., 1944, p. 6, there is a great need for a common gender personal pronoun. To which the editor, not quite clear on the difference between possessive and plural s, replies, There is such a word: THON, a contraction of that one. The plural form is THONS. The word has never been accepted hse Buwei Yang Chao, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese (N.Y.: Vintage, Random House, 3 rd ed., 1963, rpt. 1972), xxiv one... he; thon Columnist Frank Colby proposes one for words like anybody and everybody, followed by generic he: If one (anybody) objects, will he please raise his hand? Colby also mentions thon, saying it has been unsuccessful, preferring the generic he instead of invented pronouns or his or her. Miami News, 18 June, 1946, p. 21.

69 Baron, The words that failed, Ms. In The Story of Language (New York: Lippincott, p. 82), the language writer Mario Pei says that Ms. has been often proposed as a way to combine Miss and Mrs. He derives Ms. from Miss generic he The column Let George Do It (Salt Lake Telegram, 27 Nov., 1950, p. 11) answers a reader s question about whether a woman can be president, mentioning the masculine pronoun used in the Constitution, but treating the issue jocularly, and without resolution because, according to the writer, the Constitution is not clear on the issue che, chis, chim Frank Colby once again, in his column, Take my word for it, in the Washington, D.C., Evening Star, 29 Jan., 1951, p. 33, cites correspondent W. E. F. of Pittsburgh, who recommends this paradigm to replace the awkward he or she in speaking of persons of both sexes. Colby reminds readers that thon is already in the dictionary. Ms. The marriage-neutral honorific is discussed in the business community in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but is ultimately ignored. Chester R. Anderson, of the American Business Writers Association, reports Cy Frailey s recommendation to use Ms. the logical title to use for all women, as Mr. is used for all men. Anderson is not convinced, evoking a stereotype sure to insult at least some of the ABWA s members: Are there women interested in being logical to this extent? Anderson dates Ms. about fifteen or twenty years ago, though the form first appears as early as ABWA Bulletin, Nov. 1951, p. 8 [the journal was not printed but typed and reproduced by mimeograph].

70 Baron, The words that failed, kin Replaces all pronouns in the language of the people of Ata. Dorothy Bryant, The Comforter, rpt. 1971, The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You (N.Y.: Random House/Moon Books), p she (contains he), heris, herim Dana Densmore, Speech is the Form of Thought, No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation (April, 1970); cited in Media Report to Women 3.1 (Jan. 1975): 12. The 1970s sees new coining activity in connection with second-wave feminism. co (from IE *ko), cos Mary Orovan, Humanizing English (N.Y. [1975]: the author). ve, vis, ver Varda (Murrell) One. Everywoman, 8 May, ta, ta-men (pl.); a borrowing from Mandarin Chinese. Leslie E. Blumenson, New York Times 30 Dec., tey, term, tem; him/herself Casey Miller and Kate Swift, What about New Human Pronouns? Current 138 (1972): fm Paul Kay, Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 13 (Apr., 1972): 3. it; z Abigail Cringle of Edgerton, Maryland, rejects epicene it, prefers z. Washington Post, 2 May, 1972, Sec. A, 19. shis, shim, shims, shimself Robert B. Kaplan, Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 13 (June, 1972): 4. ze (from Ger. sie), zim, zees, zeeself; per (from person), pers Steven Polgar of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, proposes the ze paradigm; John Clark offers per. Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association 13 (Sept.): na, nan, naself June Arnold, The Cook and the Carpenter (Plainfield, VT: Daughters, Inc., 1973). it; s/he Norma Wilson et al., editors, A Woman s New World Dictionary, 51%: A Paper of Joyful Noise for the Majority Sex, 1973, pp s/he; him/er; his-or-her Cited and rejected by Gordon Wood, The Forewho Neither a He, a She, nor an It, American Speech 48 (1973): shem; herm Quidnunc, Thon That s the Forewho, American Speech 48 (1973): 300-

71 Baron, The words that failed, se (pron. [si]), ser (pron. [sir]), sim (pron. [sim]), simself William Cowan, of the Department of Linguistics, Carleton University (Ottawa), Times Two 6 (24 May, 1973): n.p. j/e, m/a, m/e, m/es, m/oi; jee, jeue Monique Wittig employs the slashed pronouns as feminines, and cites the latter two, which employ the more traditional feminine e; Le corps lesbien (Paris: Editions de Minuit); The Lesbian Body, trans. David LeVay (London: Peter Owen, 1975). heesh, heesh s, heeshself Poul Anderson, The Day of Their Return. New York: Nelson Doubleday/New American Library, The pronouns are used to refer to a triune species, the Didonians, but only halfheartedly; he is used as well ne, nis, ner Mildred Fenner attributes this to the educator Fred Wilhelms, writing in the October issue of the NEA journal. Today s Education 4 (1974): 110. she (includes he) Gena Corea, Frankly Feminist, rpt. as How to Eliminate the Clumsy He, Media Report to Women 3.1 (Jan. 1975): 12. en, es, ar David H. Stern of Pasadena, California, The Los Angeles Times, 19 Jan., 1974, Sec. 2, p. 4. hisorher; herorhis; ve, vis, vim Cited by Amanda Smith, Washington Post, 11 Apr., 1974, Sec. A, 29. tey, ter, tem Columnist Andrew Tully reports, with disdain, that the Beacon, the newspaper of the University of Tennessee, has adopted these gender-neutral pronouns. Munster, IA, Times, 24 July, 1974, p. 12. In 2016, see below, the Tennessee legislature sought to prevent the university from encouraging such pronouns by passing a law stating the no state funds may be expended on gender-neutral pronouns. It s not clear whether this law precludes writing about pronouns in the student newspaper. shem, hem, hes Paul L. Silverman of Rockville, Maryland, Washington Post, 17 Dec., 1974, Sec. A, hir, herim (facetious) Milton Mayer, On the Siblinghood of Persons, The Progressive 39 (Sept., 1975): hesh, himer, hiser, hermself Jan Verley Archer, Use New Pronouns, Media Report to Women 3.1 (Jan., 1975): 12. se (pron. [si]) H. R. Lee of Alexandria, Virginia, Forbes 116 (15 Aug., 1975): 86. ey, eir, em; uh Christine M. Elverson of Skokie, Illinois, Chicago Tribune, 23 Aug., 1975, Sec. 1, p. 12.

72 Baron, The words that failed, 72 h orsh it (facetious blend of he, or, she, and it) Joel Weiss of Northbrook, Illinois, Forbes 116 (15 Sept., 1975): ho, hom, hos, homself (from Lat. homo, man, and prefix homo-, the same, equal, like ) Donald K. Darnell, in Donald K. Darnell and Wayne Brockriede, Persons Communicating (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1976), 148. he or she; to be written as (s)he Elizabeth Lane Beardsley, Referential Genderization, in Carol C. Gould and Marx W. Wartofsky, eds., Women and Philosophy (N.Y.: G. P. Putnam s Sons, 1976), she, herm, hs (facetious; pron. zzz ) Paul B. Horton, A Sexless Vocabulary for a Sexist Society, Intellect 105 (Dec., 1976): it Millicent Rutherford, One Man in Two Is a Woman, English Journal (Dec., 1976): 11. ca po, xe, jhe Cited as recent and ephemeral by Casey Miller and Kate Swift, Words and Women: New Language in New Times (Rpt., N.Y.: Anchor Press, 130). Paul Dickson, Words (1982), p. 113, attributes jhe, pronounced gee, to Professor Milton A. Stern of the University of Michigan. E, E s, Em; one E was created by psychologist Donald G. MacKay of the University of California at Los Angeles e, ris, rim Werner Low, Washington Post, 20 Feb., 1977, Sec. C, 6. sheme, shis, shem; heshe, hisher, himmer Thomas H. Middleton, Pondering the Personal Pronoun Problem, Saturday Review 59 (9 Mar., 1977). Sheme, etc. proposed by Thomas S. Jackson of Washington, D. C.; Middleton refers to proposals for heshe, hisher, himmer. hei, heis Eldon F. Gunter, of the Bill Sandy Corp., which specialized in communications services for the automobile industry, coined these blends of he and she, as the bisexual possessive, to avoid the never-ending his or her, with heis pronounced to rhyme with sighs. Cited in Merry mix up of sexist words, by the King Features Syndicate columnist Phyllis Battelle (Coshocton, OH, Tribune, 24 March, p. 4). Although in this column Battelle seems to approve of the coinage, the following year she rejects new pronouns: These ideas are too complex, requiring mental sorting, confusion possibly even drunkenness ( To each his or her own, Coshocton Tribune, 5 May, 1978, p. 4). em, ems Jeffrey J. Smith (using pseudonym TINTAJL jefry) Em Institute Newsletter (June, 1977).

73 Baron, The words that failed, ae Cited by Cheris Kramer(ae), Barrie Thorne, and Nancy Henley, Perspectives on Language and Communication, Signs 3 (1978): , as occurring in fiction, especially science fiction. hir Ray A. Killian, Managers Must Lead! (AMACOM) press release; cited in The Epicene Pronoun Yet Again, American Speech 54 (1979): hesh, hizer, hirm; sheehy; sap (from homo sapiens) Tom Wicker, More About He/She and Thon, New York Times, 14 May, 1978, Sec. 4, p. 19. Hesh etc. proposed by Prof. Robert Longwell of the University of Northern Colorado; sheehy by David Kraus of Bell Harbor, N.Y.; sap (facetiously) by Dr. Lawrence S. Ross, of Huntington, N.Y.; Wicker adds that several readers offered blends of he, she, and it. e, ir UPI reports that the Broward County, FL, school board s new Program Guide for Gifted Education uses these pronouns which use common elements from the masculine and feminine forms in order to comply with federal regulations that ban nongender-neutral language in educational publications. To encourage the adoption of the pronouns by teachers and staff, the board illustrates with an anecdote about a student who missed the bus: Question: Why did e miss ir bus? Answer: E was afraid to go home. Question: Who was e with? Answer: E was by ir self. The article concludes with a comment by one of the six women on the seven-person school board: E replied, I think the English language is in danger. I d prefer they didn t make up words. Arizona Republic 29 May, 1978, pp. 1; 14. Versions of this story ran in other newspapers in May and June. heesh, hiser(s), herm, hermself Leonora A. Timm, Not Mere Tongue in Cheek: The Case for a Common Gender Pronoun in English, International Journal of Women s Studies 1 (1978): þe (the), im, ir(s) Reviving the Old English letter called thorn, to be used for the unvoiced th sound. þe (the) is to rhyme with he and contrast with 2 pers. sg. voiced thee. þane ( thane ) to be used for person of unspecified sex: man, woman, þane. John Newmeyer, Ph.D., of San Francisco, in The People s Almanac # 2, by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace (New York: William Morrow, 1978), pp one Lillian E. Carleton, An Epicene Suggestion, American Speech 54 (1979): et, ets, etself Aline Hoffman of Sarnia, Ontario; cited by William Sherk, Brave New Words (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1979). hir, hires, hirem, hirself Jerome Ch en, Professor of History at York University, New York Times, 6 Jan., 1979, p. 18. shey, sheir, sheirs; hey, heir, heirs Paul Encimer favors the first over the second paradigm. The Peacemaker 32 (Feb., 1979): 2-3.

74 Baron, The words that failed, 74 it Herman Arthur, To Err Is Huperson; to Forgive, Divine, American Educator 4 (Winter, 1979): heshe, hes, hem Ronald C. Corbyn, Getting Around Sexist Pronouns, Anthropology Newsletter 22 (Oct., 1979): shey, shem, sheir Mauritz Johnson; cited by William Safire, What s the Good Word? (N.Y.: Times Books, 1982), 30. E, Ir Subject and possessive forms, created by the Broward County, Florida, public schools; cited by Paul Dickson in Words (N. Y.: Delacorte, 1982), 113. se, sim, sis, simself; sey, sem, seir, semself; ti, tis, tisself MIT physicist Kenneth McFarlane, suffering from the uncertainty principle, offers not one, but three paradigms, playing with the traditional pronouns he, she, and it. The bemused reporter says of McFarlane, Se s clearly the one in need of a long vacation. Wasau, WI, Daily Herald, 23 March, 1982, p ghah (pronounced [γɑx]) The structured version of the Klingon language, created by the linguist Marc Okrand for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, includes epicene ghah as the sole animate third-person singular pronoun in Klingon. It is rendered by the Klingon 'oh [ʔox]. There are no common-gender pronouns in Vulcan. (Mark Mandel, s, July 16 and 19, 2017.) hiser McClain B. Smith, Ann Arbor News, 20 Jan., 1984, Sec. A, 6. hes Ernie Permentier, Ms. (May, 1984): 22. hann Steven Schaufele, of the Univ. of Illinois linguistics department, takes hann from Old Norse, already the source of English they; analogous to Finnish han Colorless Green Newsflashes 4 (9 Nov., 1984), 3. (See Swedish invented common-gender hen, 2015.) 1985 herm Jenny Cheshire traces this to the magazine Lysistrata. A Question of Masculine Bias, Today s English 1 (1985): 26. a, un, a s Although she prefers singular they, science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin used this paradigm, based on British dialect, in a 1985 screenplay for her novel The Left Hand of Darkness (1969); in the novel Le Guin writes he/his/him. Is Gender Necessary? Redux (1976, revised, 1987), in Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places (New York: Grove Press, 1989), p. 15. gee, hem, hes; they Ian Thornton, of South Yarra, Australia, offers gee, hem, hes, and J. R. Taylor opts for singular they. The Age (Melbourne). 5 July, 1985, p. 12.

75 Baron, The words that failed, 75 gender-neutral ballots The Morris County, NJ, county clerk holds up the printing of ballots because two women candidates for city council object to the title councilman. State law says that masculine references to public office include the feminine, but the law also bars changing the name of the office to councilwoman, so the clerk is seeking legal advice before printing ballots. Morristown, NJ, Daily Record, 26 Sept., 1985, p. 3. generic he Not everyone is talking about gender-neutral pronouns. In this writing advice column, Rod Vahl says there s only one right answer when it comes to pronoun agreement: he. Quad-City Times (Davenport, IA), 7 Nov. 1985, p. 6. che, chim, chis, chimself David Throop, of Austin, TX, writes in support of this paradigm: The idea is not to force a new convention on anyone. We need not rework our literature to make it gender neutral. We should browbeat no one into learning new words.... It s easier to deal with than the stilted phrases and minor slights over which we ve been stumbling. And don t you think [che] has kind of a ring to it? St. Louis Post- Dispatch, 16 Nov., 1985, p han, hans A. M. Stratford, of Norfolk, England, creates this form to resemble other British initialisms (HM, HRH, HMS, HE, HMSO), English Today 14 (1988): 5-6. e, e s Eugene Wine, of Miami-Dade Community College, creates this paradigm using the common letter in he and she, and notes that I and you have already been reduced to a single vowel sound. Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Sept., 1988, p ala, alum, alis Michael Knab, of Goodwin, Knab and Co., Chicago, derives these from Latin al, other and feels they resemble the Hawaiian sex-neutral pronouns oia, ia. Press release and personal communication. e, e s, emself, em Victor J. Stone, Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana, writing in the Chicago Bar Association s CBA Record 3 (July/Aug., 1989): de/deis; den/din Richard Strand, Keith Roberson, Dan Fisher, BLAST (Computer)

76 Baron, The words that failed, 76 Support Office, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Univ. of Illinois. de/deis (rhymes with `dee/dyes ) created de novo with some Germanic influence; den/din created on a similar root to replace man/woman and men/women se, hir According to John Cowan ( communication, 1992), this paradigm is regularly used on the electronic newsgroup alt.sex.bondage. I have taken his word for it. E, e, es, eself Qing Guo proposed this on the computer network newsgroup alt.usage.english (1992); the majuscule is the subject form, the lower case e the object form; also proposed are U, u, ur, urs, urself, urselves for the second person paradigm (and this before the age of texting). The following coinages appear in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, ed. Tom McArthur (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1992), s.v. generic pronoun: han Business writer Audrie Stratford, Ling s Lynn, England. hey Ronald Gill, of Derby, England. mef George Wardell, Reading, England. ws, wself Dr. John B, Sykes, editor, Concise Oxford Dictionary, 7th ed. ze, zon Don Manley, Oxford, England heesh, hirm, hizzer Dear Abby tells reader Ruth Gurry, of Florida, who asks about this paradigm, Better to bear the ills we have than to fly to others we know not of. Fremont, OH, News-Messenger, 23 Sept., 1993, p. 20. ca hen Swedish common-gender pronoun. See 2015 for a discussion of the form and an example of its use generic she; herm The syndicated columnist James J. Kilpatrick discusses Supreme Court opinions written by Justice John Paul Stevens using generic she and alternating he or she. In response to a query from Kilpatrick, J. Stevens answered, It seems appropriate sometimes to use a masculine and sometimes a feminine pronoun when referring to a hypothetical representative of a class that includes both. Kilpatrick reports that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg used a generic feminine in a recent opinion as well, and notes that Bill Hallock, of Rochester, WA, suggested herm, to which the columnist responds, riffing on an often-quoted Supreme Court opinion in a pornography case, I don t know of an acceptable answer to this cosmic question of a neuter referent pronoun, but I can borrow from Justice Potter Stewart in another context, HERM ain t it. Northwest Herald (Woodstock, IL) 16 Sept., 2001, p. 9.

77 Baron, The words that failed, 77 generic he The Ithaca Journal, 30 Oct., 2001, 19, reports an amendment to the New York State Constitution that would make gender reference in the law neutral by adding an additional feminine reference or replac[ing] the masculine form of the term with a gender-neutral term. The amendment was later passed ree, hurm Michael Newdow, who is an attorney as well as a physician and is better known for his lawsuit to get under God out of the pledge of allegiance, also proposed these gender-neutral pronouns. Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct., 2002, p het, hes, hem New Mexico writer and teacher Andrew Bard Schmookler says he cringes when the rules of grammar are broken. Yet he offers this paradigm we would call it disruptive grammar today saying, Language is ours to make. (This is not France!) This sorely needed innovation can become a part of the language, if enough of us implement the change. Power to the people. It is not clear how he reacts to the linguistic innovations of his students. Baltimore Sun, 2 Jan., 2003, p. A15. gender-neutral pronouns The syndicated News of the Weird reports that Smith College, which only admits women students, announced that it would replace the feminine pronoun with gender-neutral pronouns, since some students after being admitted as female subsequently identify as transgender. Munster, IA, Times, 20 May, 2003, p. 45. By 2014 this is no longer filed under weird by most of the media pronoun needed Columnist Andy Rooney writes a plea for someone to invent a common-gender pronoun because every time I write I m faced with the problem of those damn third-person pronouns he and she. Rooney refuses to write the coordinate he or she. Morristown, NJ, Daily Record, 24 April, 2004, p. 10. yo Elaine Stotko, the late chair of the Johns Hopkins University Dept. of Teacher Preparation, along with her students, discovered this pronoun in use in Baltimore middle and high schools. Their report on this naturally-occurring pronoun was announced in 2007: Elaine Stotko and Margaret Troyer, A new gender-neutral pronoun in Baltimore, Maryland: A preliminary study. American Speech 82 (Fall, 2007): hu, hu s The Los Angeles Times editorial page offers this coinage by D. N. DeLuna, of Johns Hopkins, who used it in her edited book on the historian J. G. A. Pocock. The pronoun rhymes with duh, and the Times asks, Do the egalitarian principles of hu outweigh the fact that it looks like a Vulcan vocabulary word? (See 1992, above: Vulcan does not have common-gender pronouns.) 2013 preferred pronoun The movement at US high schools and colleges to have people

78 Baron, The words that failed, 78 indicate their preferred pronoun begins to draw wider attention in November of this year after an attack on a student identifying as agender who prefers the pronoun they. The AP s Lisa Leff writes an article on the subject appearing in multiple newspapers (for example, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1 Dec., 2013, p. 9). In addition to singular they, invented pronouns like ze are gaining wider notice in this movement Mx. The New York Times, 7 June, 2015, p. 9, reports on the gender-neutral honorific Mx, an alternative to Mr. and Ms. OxfordDictionaries.com and the OED have entries for the word, and the Royal Bank of Scotland offers Mx as an alternative that customers may choose. Mx. appeared in the NY Times as well, though that was apparently a one-off: An article this week in The New York Times referred to a speaker using the honorific Mx. However, Philip B. Corbett, a Times editor who oversees the newspaper s style manual and usage rules, called that appearance of Mx. in The Times an exception. I don t think we re likely to adopt Mx. in the near future, he said. It remains too unfamiliar to most people, and it s not clear when or if it will emerge as a widely adopted term. hen The Swedish hen (joining the masculine han and the feminine hon) was coined around 1996 and received official approval in 2015, when it was added to the dictionary of the Swedish Academy, the Svenska Akademiens Ordbok. The online version of dictionary has not yet been updated. Hen has become familiar enough that newspapers no explain the term to their readers, and despite official recognition hen remains controversial. The following montage from the Swedish/Danish television series The Bridge, ser. 3, episode 1, shows the Swedish police detective, Saga Norén (right) using hen seriously, and her Danish colleague, Hanne Thomsen (left) questioning this politically correct usage.

79 Baron, The words that failed, gender-neutral pronouns banned In response to a suggestion by the Diversity Office at the University of Tennessee that people be asked about their preferred pronouns, Tennessee, the state that banned the teaching of evolution in 1925, passed a law against linguistic evolution. The new law withdrew funding for the UT Office of Diversity and banned the use of state funds to promote the use of gender neutral pronouns. In 2016, as well, Indiana, lagging behind the other states, approved legislation to replace the pronoun he in state law with gender-neutral terms when referring to the duties of elected officials. Munster, IN, Times, 1 July, 2016, p. 3.

80 Baron, The words that failed, iel, ille; iels, illes; celleux, ceulles The High Council on the Equality between Women and Men, a division of the French Ministry of Families, Children, and Women s Rights, published a Practical Guide for Nonsexist Writing recommending inclusive writing that does not silence or demean women. The guide mentions these egalitarian pronouns, coined by certain usage experts. The French Academy immediately condemned the innovations and warned that their adoption would signal the death of French and allow other languages to win the race for world domination. Mx; singular they; ze, zem, zes Tallahassee, FL, fifth-grade teacher Chloe Bressack caused a national as well as a local stir by sending a letter home to parents asking students to refer to the teacher, who identifies as neither male nor female, with the honorific Mx and the pronouns they, them, their. When several parents complained and pulled their children out of the class, school officials transferred Bressack to a position at the district s adult education center. (USA Today, 26 Sept.; the story was picked up by the Washington Post, the New York Post, FOX News, and other major outlets). Writing to the local paper, Tallahassee attorney Eric H. Miller complained that Bressack should not impose a political agenda on the students. Even worse, Bressack committed a grammatical crime by making students use singular they, which was incorrect. Surprisingly, Miller advised teaching an alternative, invented pronoun: Instead of abusing they, he wrote, ze, zem, zes could provide a teachable moment.... encouraging such use would create less confusion for the students (Tallahassee Democrat, 23 Sept., A4). Summary: The discussion of third-person singular pronoun gender in English spans 130 years, spurred by twin concerns of grammatical correctness and gender inclusion, and involving both new, invented pronouns and singular they. Each position has advantages and disadvantages: Advantages of invented pronouns: They fill a gap in the pronoun paradigm. They are high profile, calling attention to the emerging politics of the nonbinary.

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