Essay on Pronouns Of The English Language

1191 Words Nov 24th, 2015 5 Pages
Pronoun use in the English language is closely related to the name of a person, and therefore also serves a purpose to verbally symbolize the gender of a person. This is another example of the gender binary in English because the English language is exclusively male/female when it comes to gender pronouns in the singular form, lacking a singular neuter pronoun. Some may say the pronouns “it” or “one” serve this function. However, it is dehumanizing to refer to a person, when the gender is unknown, with such pronouns as “it.” For this reason, many times the pronoun “he” is used in text as a general term to signify a person when the gender is unknown or undefined (Copperud 146-67). Yet many linguists agree that generic “he” is not actually neutral, and contributes to sexist beliefs. This is perhaps one of the greatest shifts in the mindset of feminists over the past 4 decades. In the 1970’s when Robin Lakoff introduced the study of gender pertaining to sociolinguistics, she claimed that the gender-neutral “he” was acceptable because it did not directly influence the behavior of women in the same way that speech differences between genders did. However, this belief is continually disproved with new studies regarding gender and language as a result of postmodern feminist theories regarding the inclusivity of genders outside the binary. For example, The Linguistics Encyclopedia claims that “false generics,” the use of masculine nouns as neutral, contribute to women being viewed…

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