Let's make a new pronoun!


General Discussion

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Because the discussion has to go somewhere, and all these androids and shirren (shirrens?) are making it more necessary.

Paul Watson wrote:

It's not unusual. It's fairly common to use they when you don't know the gender of someone.

"Look, someone's left their wallet behind."
"Sucks to be them, I guess."
"Yeah, I hope they notice and can get their property back."

At what point in that did you get confused or annoyed that a plural was being used?

At the point where it's referring to a specific individual, and not a generic "somebody".

So, how does one use a pronoun to refer to a specific individual of unknown/nonstandard sex/gender? Suggestions?


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I'll go with the one in use since about the 14th centuary.

Where an individual prefers something else, such as one of the many recent inventions, it should be their own choice.

This is a topic that has been under discussion by the affected groups for a long time.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The use of "they" as a genderless personal pronoun is becoming increasingly common, and has a long history (even if it tends to refer to "generic somebodies" more often than specific individuals).

There have been attempts at creating new pronouns for those who don't fit into English's restrictive gender binary, but an invented word is much less likely to take off than a new or altered use of an existing one.


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Eh'd like to suggest using "eh" and "meh" for the first person--eh find it helps keep meh from taking mehself too seriously, which seems to happen when "grammar" discussions happen.


How about Ye


Vidmaster7 wrote:
How about Ye

Why would eh use "ye" to refer to mehself? That seems even more confusing. Eh'm not Ernest Hemingway...


I'm actively volunteering locally in LGBTQ+ efforts, and am attempting to become professionally involved in supporting the community, but honestly I shudder a little when I hear "ze" or "zir". I don't feel like new words are a good way to go. They only serve to draw extra scrutiny and attention.

I'm very much a fan of they. I even set my Facebook pronoun to that.


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I just feel Y is a letter that doesn't get enough action,


Vidmaster7 wrote:
I just feel Y is a letter that doesn't get enough action,

Really? Not even adverbially?


I think it gets plenty of action in adverbs Lets keep it strictly to pronouns. But we could do Xe no one can Say X gets to much action.

Edit: except for maybe a mathematician.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:

I think it gets plenty of action in adverbs Lets keep it strictly to pronouns. But we could do Xe no one can Say X gets to much action.

Edit: except for maybe a mathematician.

"X gon give it to ya..."


See I like it. its already lending itself to pseudo puns.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
See I like it. its already lending itself to pseudo puns.

Dangit! That wasn't a pun, it was a reference! Now Eh've got to flip a table... see what ye made meh do?


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May I interject to say that the oft-heated rhetoric around grammar arguments suggests that perhaps something more than grammar is being argued about?


Tableflip McRagequit wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
See I like it. its already lending itself to pseudo puns.
Dangit! That wasn't a pun, it was a reference! Now Eh've got to flip a table... see what ye made meh do?

It was in reference to a Song yes However if X was a pronoun as I suggested you could take that statement as a pun. as your useing X with two meanings one as a pronoun and X as the one the song refers too.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
Tableflip McRagequit wrote:
Vidmaster7 wrote:
See I like it. its already lending itself to pseudo puns.
Dangit! That wasn't a pun, it was a reference! Now Eh've got to flip a table... see what ye made meh do?
It was in reference to a Song yes However if X was a pronoun as I suggested you could take that statement as a pun. as your useing X with two meanings one as a pronoun and X as the one the song refers too.

But how would ye even pronoun het? Eh'm so confused...


Its OK I forgive you.


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I know the intentions of this thread were good, but this is just a bit tone deaf. It's really a privilege to be in a society where your chosen pronouns are validated. It's our society that sees the formating of the word they as necessitating a plural subject, and at some point it falls on the listener to understand that that is simply not how the pronoun is being used. I don't have to be concerned with people will complain that saying he/him/his is to difficult, but it's from a privileged standpoint that I would complain that the gender neutral pronoun a person prefers need be changed for my own comfort of use. I think everyone commented on here with honestly good intentions, but making up new gender pronouns sounds offensive (again, likely unintentionally so) to someone who honestly relies on established nonbinary gender pronouns, which exist in multitude, as a way to identify themselves.


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I don't like jargon. I prefer they. It's established, though maybe not grammatically correct. But eh, it works for me.


Odraude wrote:
I don't like jargon. I prefer they. It's established, though maybe not grammatically correct. But eh, it works for me.

grammar is fluid (pun intended). It's constantly changing and evolving. In the past people used "they" as the singular, gender neutral norm, before he became more prevalent. I still use they though. It just seems more logical to not assume a gender from the beginning because the listener could get confused. That said, while I don't like jargon either, I love the word jargon. Jargon is a hysterical sounding word.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I clicked on this thread out of curiosity. A new pronoun for Starfinder? Perhaps something to refer to an extra terrestrial?

Please forgive my ignorance. I have seen three terms that I am unfamiliar with. Contextually I am guessing they are pronouns.

I am unfamiliar with:

shirren (shirrens?)
"ze"
"zir"

What do they mean and how are they used?

Again please pardon my ignorance,

Thank you


I'll just be honest and say, that made up words can come off as a bigsilly. I see no problem with they. A direct change just seems too difficult and unnatural.

Or we could all switch to Finnish. :p

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

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ConanTheGrammarian wrote:
May I interject to say that the oft-heated rhetoric around grammar arguments suggests that perhaps something more than grammar is being argued about?

Nay, thou art a villain for e'en suggesting such a thing. Ere now, grammar has been unassailable and fixèd. The way we speak (especially regarding pronouns, as I'm sure thou art aware) has ne'er shifted even as our cultures have changed.

MageHunter wrote:

I'll just be honest and say, that made up words can come off as a bigsilly. I see no problem with they. A direct change just seems too difficult and unnatural.

Or we could all switch to Finnish. :p

Boy, do I have some news for you thou about which words are made up.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
ElyasRavenwood wrote:
shirren (shirrens?)

Shirren are one of the new core races for starfinder.

The others are terms/pronouns? to indicate a type of gender.
I'm still trying to get my head around why it would be evolutiary beneficial to have so many different genders that I haven't been paying much attention to the language surrounding them.


English is the Borg of languages when it comes to assimilating the nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs of other tongues, but is terrible at absorbing or innovating other parts of speech.

Anything that doesn't sound like it could be a real English word for these restricted parts of speech is going to fall into the verbal uncanny valley, and any sentence which dips into this valley with made-up wirds as such, will sound unnatural, awkward and contrived.

For our purposes, pronouns that sound like existing ones will sound nicer to the Anglophone ear than ones that don't. Instead of the third person plural They / Them / Their / Theirs, you might replace the initial consonant with some other phoneme that is accent-agnostic and won't create a homophone pair, such as Ch, Sh, Z, and Zh. You may as well spell it with an initial 'X' while you're at it. Xey, Xem, Xeir, Xiers.


Damanta wrote:
ElyasRavenwood wrote:
shirren (shirrens?)

Shirren are one of the new core races for starfinder.

The others are terms/pronouns? to indicate a type of gender.
I'm still trying to get my head around why it would be evolutiary beneficial to have so many different genders that I haven't been paying much attention to the language surrounding them.

T be scientifically accurate (I'm extremely literal) shirren have three sexes.


Gameplay and roleplay should sometimes trump scientific realism.


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mechaPoet wrote:
ConanTheGrammarian wrote:
May I interject to say that the oft-heated rhetoric around grammar arguments suggests that perhaps something more than grammar is being argued about?

Nay, thou art a villain for e'en suggesting such a thing. Ere now, grammar has been unassailable and fixèd. The way we speak (especially regarding pronouns, as I'm sure thou art aware) has ne'er shifted even as our cultures have changed.

MageHunter wrote:

I'll just be honest and say, that made up words can come off as a bigsilly. I see no problem with they. A direct change just seems too difficult and unnatural.

Or we could all switch to Finnish. :p

Boy, do I have some news for you thou about which words are made up.

No, Finnish please! My Dad only taught me phrases that would get me kicked/banned.


Archmage Variel wrote:
I know the intentions of this thread were good, but this is just a bit tone deaf.

The intention of this thread was to redirect the pronoun discussion out of the Meet the Iconics thread. It failed.


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mechaPoet wrote:
Boy, do I have some news for you thou about which words are made up.

Exactly! After all, I have yet to come across a word that was NOT made up. :)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The problem is that we generally make up words for new things, but people of indeterminate gender are not a new thing.

Until recently, "he" was the word that grammarians would have said that we should use for such people.

While there is an excellent chance that "they" may catch on as the new indefinite third person singular pronoun, none of the recently made up pronouns so far proposed have caught on, and I would be very surprised if any of them ever do.


All of them didn't mind too much, but that'n didn't like it, so we all wondered whether that'n ought to shift on, or we and them ought to make some change so that'n might feel better.


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Everyone Uses Singular 'They,' Whether They Realize It Or Not (NPR)

Of note, there is also the sci-fi book _Ancillary Justice_ by Ann Leckie. It is a "space opera set thousands of years in the future, where the primary galactic power of human-occupied planets is the expansionist Radch empire. The empire uses AIs to control human bodies ("ancillaries") that are used as soldiers, though regular humans also are soldiers. The Radchaai do not distinguish people by gender, and Leckie conveys this by using female personal pronouns for everybody, and by having the Radchaai main character guess wrongly when she has to use languages with gender-specific pronouns." (Wikipedia)

Grand Lodge

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I think that the best solution is to go back to what english has always done. Mug other languages in dark alleys to go through their pockets for spare grammar. For Instance, German uses a pronoun Sie(pronounced like Zee, sort of... I don't actually know german really well,) Depending on the conjugation of the verb it can either refer to a woman Or formally refer to a person of indeterminate gender. That is something that could be used, then again probably just go with whatever the character decides on. Cause quite frankly, gender pronouns for people who don't fit into normal binary biological definitions creates a lot of discussion. Generally anything that creates this much discussion in the real world will create interesting role play on a table. Politics is just perception writ large.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The issue of non-gender specific pronouns would come up even in the absence of transgender individuals when discussing an individual whose gender is unknown or unimportant to the situation at hand.

The classic situation would be when somebody calls for a taxi -- the person calling for the taxi might not know the gender of the driver until the taxi actually shows up.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A friend of mine proposed "E" and "er" as a gender neutral version of he/she and him/her, respectively. I like the elegance of the capital E.


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Am I the only one who finds a bunch of mostly cisgender people talking about creating a new pronoun for people who do not conform to a binary gender identity a tiny bit redundant? Like I'm a cisgender guy, and if people were talking about creating a new word pronoun for guys when "he/him/his" already exists, I'd just be really confused and a bit concerned.

Dark Archive

I thought we had all three genders of shirren male female and host?


Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:
I thought we had all three genders of shirren male female and host?

Those would be sexes, because they involve Shirren... well. You get the idea.

Dark Archive

I got it i retract my statement. Sorry


Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:
I got it i retract my statement. Sorry

Don't be sorry. Well, actually, I have the image of shirren mating in my head now so be a little sorry. I sure am.

Dark Archive

Why not use the one we already have, "it"?

Dark Archive

Archmage Variel wrote:
Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:
I got it i retract my statement. Sorry
Don't be sorry. Well, actually, I have the image of shirren mating in my head now so be a little sorry. I sure am.

Great now I do too.....


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ulgulanoth wrote:
Why not use the one we already have, "it"?

It has the connotation of non-personhood. Being gender non-binary has enough stigmatization already.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
ulgulanoth wrote:
Why not use the one we already have, "it"?

Cause it's dehumanizing. I'm not an "it", I'm a person. They're not an "it", they're a person.


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ulgulanoth wrote:
Why not use the one we already have, "it"?

Experiment:

Tell everyone you know to call you "it" when not using your name. Do that for a month. Commit to that. Insist upon that pronoun. Make sure to over-hear people talking about you using "it" as a pronoun, when you're not around.

Then come back and ask that question.


spamhammer wrote:
A friend of mine proposed "E" and "er" as a gender neutral version of he/she and him/her, respectively. I like the elegance of the capital E.

I think that IS elegant. I would go with 'em' for the objective, leveraging 'them', and the already colloquial "Give it to 'em" usage.


As much as I love xe/ze/etc, pronunciation issues can come in to play, and all of that. (I prefer xe for myself, but I met someone that uses xie, and they're not pronounced the same.)

Singular they is really the best choice for nonbinary usage in English.

If we're talking something like the shirran host sex, well, I'm sure the shirran would have a pronoun for that, so the question is how would we translate it into english?


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For the Shirren we have to break it down to the biological level.

<< Shirrens have three sexes: male, female, and host. During reproduction, female and male shirrens provide the initial eggs and sperm, and hosts incubate the fertilized eggs while also adding their own genetic material and immunities. Shirren young spend their first 2 years in a tiny, wormlike larval form, and are often carried around in protective containers to let them safely observe the world. >>

In humans, both sexes contribute genes through their gametes. One sex contributes the stationary gamete and the other the traveling (motile, flagellated) gamete. The ovum maker also carries the zygote / embryo created from fertilization, for the full term of gestation.

In the Shirren species, all three sexes contribute genes through (I assume) their own versions of gametes. I am not sure if we are meant to take the terms "eggs" and "sperm" literally, but if so, then the S-male gametes can travel while the S-female gamete cannot.

Not all species with gametes follow this pattern. Examples exist in nature where all gametes of a species are flagellated, and where none are flagellated. (Isogamy) Because biological transfer occurs between the S-female and S-host, we can infer that the fertilized eggs (zygotes) of the Shirren retain the flagella of the male gametes which let them transfer to the third gender for further gestation, after which the S-host also contributes genes (which could be anything from another kind of flagellated gamete to something much less complex like soaking the embryos in a bath of naked DNA molecules exponentially generated via polymerase chain reaction). So it appears from an anthropocentric biological point of view we have two possibilities (false dichotomy fallacy notwithstanding):

One, that two of the three sexes create motile gametes (and therefore should be thought of as two male sexes), while the ovum-producing sex is female. Gestation by the S-host sex is also a female characteristic, which ought to suggest the third sex be considered at least semi-hermaphrotic.

Two, that only one sex creates motile gametes (and is male), one creates stationary gametes (at least initially) and is female; and that when the S-female mates with the S-host to inseminate the latter with her zygote fluid, this is not quite the same process, semantically speaking, as the initial union of ovum of sperm (or we would classify the female as hermaphroditic). After the zygotic transfer, the S-host inundates the zygotes with more genetic material (produced via a naturally-occurring polymerase chain reaction), which only then causes the unicellular zygotes to begin mitotically dividing and transforming into embryos.

If we accept the latter model (which IMO seems like a more reasonable explanation) then what we have are two forms of Shirren that have gender, and a third form that is sexless. In humans, there are individuals which do not actively present as male or female biologically, such as X0 chromosome type (Turner syndrome) or full/partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, or other conditions where expression or male or female traits is suppressed or mixed. In such cases where the masculinizing hormones are suppressed or the body is insensitive, the developing fetus reverts to feminine traits by default.

To that end it seems appropriate, even if it's more of an artifact of English's limitations in its pronouns than anything else, to refer to the male Shirren using masculine pronouns and to refer to the female and host Shirren using feminine pronouns (given that they share feminine characteristics of egg production and gestation).

I advocate a more personal use of pronoun, because while it seems more formal to refer to all Shirren (even non-Shirren) as singular-they, in the case of the Shirren there is a distinctive thread of worship of the individual. It is quite possible that some Shirren would take offense at being called a "they" because it is a reminder of the bad old days of being integrated into a collective mind.

Shadow Lodge

Just don't ever use a pronoun. Refer to them by character name at all times.

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