kais

Let's talk about pronouns!

38 posts in this topic

Awesome, thank you @kais. I'm rolling with a particular option for this draft and will see how it plays out. I'd love to think that you guys will get a read as far into TCC sometime to see how it plays.

(Edit: Bah, sorry. Weird double post due to internet shenanigans.)

Edited by Robinski
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It's the Oxford English Dictionary this time, with a blog post tracing the history of the singular 'they.'  Singular 'they' traces all the way back to 1375, and was probably in spoken use much earlier than that. 

Oxford English Dictonary - A brief history of singular 'they'

 

Merriam-Webster notes the use of singular 'they' as a nonbinary pronoun is a new permutation -- but not that new. They have evidence it was in use in the nonbinary pronoun sense 60 years ago in 1950 (and again, use-in-text usually comes after many years of use-in-speech).

Merriam-Webster Words at Play: Singular 'They'

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I think this thread has been dormant for a while, but just in case anyone's still checking:

I've run into a grammatical pronoun issue and I'm hoping for some advice. In my book, most of the main characters are members of an alien species that are colony life forms (ie several thousand individuals joined to make one, a bit like coral). Since each colony is composed of multiple genders but addressed from the outside as one person, my thought was to use they/them and we/us for self identification. 

The problem comes in when telepathy gets added to the mix. Because in addition to each colony being internally linked, the colonies are more loosely linked to each other into a sort of bio-internet. 

So I'm running into a lot of Thems and Theys and getting confused. Initially I thought I could solve this by adding the specific name, but then I've got aliens who all speak like Tarzan (ie We Sarah, They Bob). 

I've got a ton of world building going on, so I am hoping to work out something that is somewhat self explanatory. My writer sense says I am very near my exposition level breaking point already. 

Any tips or ideas? Am I comming at this from the wrong direction?

Advise appreciated. 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Sarah B said:

wrong direction?

Is the issue you are having a hard time with singular they? Or there are just too many they pronouns? I’m a bit confused what the issue is


you could always just not use pronouns and have the people just always use names. 

Edited by kais
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5 hours ago, kais said:


you could always just not use pronouns and have the people just always use names. 

That's a really good idea, thank you! 

I think I was getting turned around with the combination of plural and singular they, where both are applicable for the same person. Or I was just over thinking it. Probably the second one :-)

Thanks again

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13 minutes ago, Sarah B said:

That's a really good idea, thank you! 

I think I was getting turned around with the combination of plural and singular they, where both are applicable for the same person. Or I was just over thinking it. Probably the second one :-)

Thanks again

I'm losing the thread  a bit here even though I'm somewhat decent at grammar sometimes, but how about invent a new he/she/it/they? It's probably horribly impractical and jar the readers out of the novel but it'll be so cool!

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42 minutes ago, Turin Turambar said:

invent a new he/she/it/they? It's probably horribly impractical and jar the readers out of the novel but it'll be so cool!

There are hundreds of neopronouns already in existence to pick from, too!

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Potentially, you could also have the individual colonies use they/them/we/us and have a different pronoun the entities when they're telepathically linked? Then you could do as @Turin Turambar and @kais  have suggested - either invent a new one or  take your pick of existing ones.

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9 hours ago, kais said:

There are hundreds of neopronouns already in existence to pick from, too!

Yeah, I thought of neopronouns*, but I thought that might be a misuse. I thought of those neopronouns as kind of reserved for non-binary genders, rather than collectives. But maybe I overthought that.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_neutrality_in_languages_with_gendered_third-person_pronouns

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@Turin Turambar

@kais

@Silk

@Robinski

All good points! I think I'll try out solutions by redrafting a scene that was particularly confusing with each option and see which comes out the clearest. 

Thank you for all the advice and feed back. I think I was a bit paralyzed but I can start digging into edits now. 

Thanks again!

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23 minutes ago, Sarah B said:

@Turin Turambar

@kais

@Silk

@Robinski

All good points! I think I'll try out solutions by redrafting a scene that was particularly confusing with each option and see which comes out the clearest. 

Thank you for all the advice and feed back. I think I was a bit paralyzed but I can start digging into edits now. 

Thanks again!

No problem - have fun!

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