No need for gendered pronouns to refer to nonspecific characters


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When talking about nonspecific characters in the rulebook, the pronouns are always gendered, which makes my head explode.

For example, the book will say "your character within 'her' class".

No one that I know of speaks like that in a professional or formal setting.

I do technical writing as a part of my job, and no writes like that either, nor does anyone write like that in most other non-fiction writing, including newspapers and magazines.

A normal way to speak or write anywhere else would be to say "your character within 'their' class".

In contemporary modern writing and speaking 'they', 'them', and 'their' aren't plural if it's known that the subject is singular. We don't need to use (and few people in formal settings do use) gendered pronouns for nonspecific people anymore.

When writing about medical doctors, you'd write something like "a doctor after treating a patient must wash 'their' hands".

When writing about driving, you'd write something like "a driver must always look both ways after 'they' enter an intersection when at a stop sign".

It's not necessary to apply a gender to something or someone when the gender is unknown. Most of the English speaking world doesn't do it. It doesn't need to be in the rulebook either, and it's somewhat ridiculous when people read it.


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I second this. I had the exact same thoughts when reading the book.


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By my count, this is the third thread on this topic and the previous two have been locked.

So the reason Pathfinder does this is to describe an interaction between the GM and a player or two players without having to invent names or refer to titles. For example, from Horror Adventures, page 201

Quote:

The Secret: The GM has one player step outside of the room with her or otherwise out of earshot of the other players. She then provides him with secret information he’s learned during the course of play or something only he’s noticed. She possibly gets a brief response, then as swiftly as possible, they return to the game table. How and whether that information is shared with the rest of the party is up to

the player—but now everyone knows that something special happened to him

I find that this is a very natural and efficient way to keep imaginary people straight and I would prefer PF2 does not deviate from the editorial standard established in PF1 here. Saying "She" or "him" flows a lot better than "the GM" or "the player".

Plus a lot of RPG books have defaulted to "he" first (or alternated every time, which got really weird) so I appreciate Paizo trying to correct this imbalance.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
By my count, this is the third thread on this topic and the previous two have been locked.

The previous two were unlike this thread. Talking editorial decisions is a completely different approach than uh what the other threads intended.


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I think this is a good point. I find the inclusion of gendered pronouns for nonspecific actors a little intrusive, regardless of the gender employed. It always jolts me out of the text slightly, because it makes non-gender related explanatory text suddenly about gender in an abrupt off-topic micro-tangent.

Furthermore, if Paizo is trying to be as inclusive as possible of all genders—and it really seems that they are—they should either steer clear of gendered verbiage altogether, or else put their money where their mouth is and include pronouns like "zee" and "zer".


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I will accept it if the entire book is written in Spivak pronouns like "The Joy of TeX" however.

Grand Lodge

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The Paizo standard is to use the gender of the iconic for the class being discussed.

Silver Crusade

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Madame Endor wrote:

We don't need to use (and few people in formal settings do use) gendered pronouns for nonspecific people anymore.

I do technical writing as a part of my job, and no writes like that either, nor does anyone write like that in most other non-fiction writing, including newspapers and magazines.

. . .

It's not necessary to apply a gender to something or someone when the gender is unknown. Most of the English speaking world doesn't do it. It doesn't need to be in the rulebook either, and it's somewhat ridiculous when people read it.

I can see lots of good reasons to go with the genderless singular "they" as a generic pronoun in the ruleset. It does have some small cost here or there (primarily in circumstances contemplating two generic figures, e.g. the GM and a player, where gendering the pronouns can help keep clear who is who in the example). But I doubt that cost outweighs the benefit.

I will say, however, that I was taken aback by the above claims about how pervasive the genderless singular "they" is in professional settings and formal writing ("few people", "no one", "most of the English speaking world"). These claims do not at all track with my own experience. Of course, the empirical question (how common is it?) isn't really what's important here. But I was taken aback to see such strong claims in that regard that felt so off to me. Sounds like your experience has been very different from my own (likely a function of geography and/or specific professional field, I imagine?).


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When a Pathfinder rulebook talks about properties of a character class, the character is always assumed to be of the gender of the iconic character of that class. For example, when talking about the rogue class, the character is assumed to be female, because Merisiel, the iconic rogue is female. When talking about the wizard class, the character is assumed to be male, because Ezren, the iconic wizard is male. Pathfinder has used this style from the start, for more than 10 years now, and I don't think they have any intention to change this.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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We follow the Chicago Manual of Style. The playtest materials were prepared under the 16th Edition guidelines, which recommended against using "they" as a gender-neutral singular possessive pronoun.

This past September, they released the 17th Edition, in which they have relaxed their attitude on this in speech and informal writing, though they do still recommend avoiding it in formal writing.

Silver Crusade

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And I will add that the claim about newspaper and magazine writing pervasively using a generic or indefinite singular "they" does seem a bit too strong.

For example, about a year ago the AP stylebook recognized the singular "they" for folks who use it, but cautioned strongly against the use of the singular "they" as a generic pronoun. See here:

Quote:
They/them/their is acceptable in limited cases as a singular and/or gender-neutral pronoun, when alternative wording is overly awkward or clumsy. However, rewording usually is possible and always is preferable. Clarity is a top priority; gender-neutral use of a singular they is unfamiliar to many readers.

If the AP stylebook is representative (which seems like a reasonably fair assumption), your impression of the state of newspaper and magazine writing may be a bit ahead of the curve.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Heh, languages without gendered nouns and their silly problems ;)

Silver Crusade

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Vic Wertz wrote:

We follow the Chicago Manual of Style. The playtest materials were prepared under the 16th Edition guidelines, which recommended against using "they" as a gender-neutral singular possessive pronoun.

This past September, they released the 17th Edition, in which they have relaxed their attitude on this in speech and informal writing, though they do still recommend avoiding it in formal writing.

This raises an interesting question of whether the standards for formal writing are the right standards for game rulebooks. My impression of the playtest rules is that they're a bit more relaxed, perhaps, than the PF1 rules. (More contractions and other casual language was my impression, but I don't know if that's really the case.)

(Separate from the question of whether the standard is the right one in this case. I go back and forth on whether I like the generic singular "they" in formal writing.)


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On general principles... well, the CRB isn't a technical manual or anything, but it's still a rulebook. I feel like the guidelines for formal writing apply more than the guidelines for informal writing.


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It felt odd that the Aid Action assumes "your GM" is a "she" for no apparant reason. Writing 'and they determine whether you can Aid your ally.' Is better because it is still clear that "they" refers to the GM and not you.

Game rules should always be written from the perspective You (the reader) or Them (the non-you target of the rule, such as the victim of a maneuver). He and She should only be used in reference to people in-game (like in references to Iconic members of a class or an NPC)


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Secret Wizard wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
By my count, this is the third thread on this topic and the previous two have been locked.
The previous two were unlike this thread. Talking editorial decisions is a completely different approach than uh what the other threads intended.

But both previous threads asked for gender neutral language too. And for similar reasons as raises by Bardic Dave.

Although one of them specified that the request was limited to the GM references, not to the classes where the book is using iconics as standins. Since the iconics are gendered.

Quote:
Furthermore, if Paizo is trying to be as inclusive as possible of all genders—and it really seems that they are—they should either steer clear of gendered verbiage altogether

Yes. Gender neutral terms for non specific characters please.


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Thaboe wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
By my count, this is the third thread on this topic and the previous two have been locked.
The previous two were unlike this thread. Talking editorial decisions is a completely different approach than uh what the other threads intended.
But both previous threads asked for gender neutral language too. And for similar reasons as raises by Bardic Dave.

I have a different recollection.


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Specific gender could be avoided altogether by referring to us gamers simply as "it", "it's" and "those".


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

Sounds like the forum for the Chicago Manual of Style is where people should bring this up.

Paizo can't run around to every employee/contributor/freelancer and explain what their specific policy is on every contentious issue (and is there anything more contentious than grammar?) They point to the Chicago Manual of Style and say "follow that".

It's pretty easy to see the advantages of such an approach (even if the cost is that from time to time one adopts an approach that would otherwise be avoided).

I guess the other approach here would be to suggest an alternate style guide for Paizo to adopt, but I daresay The Chicago Manual of Style wasn't chosen lightly.

Silver Crusade

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Steve Geddes wrote:

Sounds like the forum for the Chicago Manual of Style is where people should bring this up.

Paizo can't run around to every employee/contributor/freelancer and explain what their specific policy is on every contentious issue (and is there anything more contentious than grammar?) They point to the Chicago Manual of Style and say "follow that".

It's pretty easy to see the advantages of such an approach (even if the cost is that from time to time one adopts an approach that would otherwise be avoided).

I guess the other approach here would be to suggest an alternate style guide for Paizo to adopt, but I daresay The Chicago Manual of Style wasn't chosen lightly.

Do you really think that Paizo does *not* have an internal style manual for writers? I would be *shocked* if they didn't have one. For example, the Playtest rules consistently refer to a generic GM with she/her/hers pronouns. That's a consistent style choice. Chicago won't answer that. So presumably it and others are witten down somewhere.


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Feats and spell descriptions use "you", thereby neatly sidestepping the question of gendered pronouns. Why can't class descriptions do this?


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Joe M. wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

Sounds like the forum for the Chicago Manual of Style is where people should bring this up.

Paizo can't run around to every employee/contributor/freelancer and explain what their specific policy is on every contentious issue (and is there anything more contentious than grammar?) They point to the Chicago Manual of Style and say "follow that".

It's pretty easy to see the advantages of such an approach (even if the cost is that from time to time one adopts an approach that would otherwise be avoided).

I guess the other approach here would be to suggest an alternate style guide for Paizo to adopt, but I daresay The Chicago Manual of Style wasn't chosen lightly.

Do you really think that Paizo does *not* have an internal style manual for writers?

No, I’m sure they do. I suspect their internal style guide is the Chicago Manual of Style plus a few things. There’s no doubt guidance on how to format 3d6, the way to set out stat blocks, etcetera, etcetera.

However, since Vic Wertz indicated that they follow the Chicago Manual of Style, I suspect that things which are not RPG specific (like the use of “they” as a gender-neutral, singular possessive pronoun) will be informed by that. Since the use of they was discouraged in the sixteenth edition, they obviously had to choose something for DMs (and went with She/Her).


Secret Wizard wrote:
Thaboe wrote:
Secret Wizard wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
By my count, this is the third thread on this topic and the previous two have been locked.
The previous two were unlike this thread. Talking editorial decisions is a completely different approach than uh what the other threads intended.
But both previous threads asked for gender neutral language too. And for similar reasons as raises by Bardic Dave.
I have a different recollection.

posted on Thu, Aug 2, 2018, 08:46 pm in What do you think of the new GM and players prescripted behaviour?

(in response to "It was this was this way in Horror adventures too")
Quote:

I understand there are books and the like that do it. But with the intent of the new guidelines to include as many people as possible, why not do the correct progressive thing and make it gender neutral?

Just use "they", or "you".

The threads OP was deleted (never explained why) but it had the same sentiment, with the added point that using an exclusive "she" for GM's could be exclusionary.


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Zaister wrote:
I'm quite certain none of those who are complaining about "unneeded gendered verbiage" would be complaining if the book was consistently using male pronouns only.

That's not true. I'd have the same issue with that. If people who are complaining about gendered pronouns wanted male gendered pronouns, they'd be asking for them instead of complaining about the use of gendered pronouns.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Madame Endor wrote:
Zaister wrote:
I'm quite certain none of those who are complaining about "unneeded gendered verbiage" would be complaining if the book was consistently using male pronouns only.
That's not true. I'd have the same issue with that. If people who are complaining about gendered pronouns wanted male gendered pronouns, they'd be asking for them instead of complaining about the use of gendered pronouns.

Or they don’t to make their position appear more reasonable when the above is still their goal. Not a new predicament.


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Steve Geddes wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

Sounds like the forum for the Chicago Manual of Style is where people should bring this up.

Paizo can't run around to every employee/contributor/freelancer and explain what their specific policy is on every contentious issue (and is there anything more contentious than grammar?) They point to the Chicago Manual of Style and say "follow that".

It's pretty easy to see the advantages of such an approach (even if the cost is that from time to time one adopts an approach that would otherwise be avoided).

I guess the other approach here would be to suggest an alternate style guide for Paizo to adopt, but I daresay The Chicago Manual of Style wasn't chosen lightly.

Do you really think that Paizo does *not* have an internal style manual for writers?

No, I’m sure they do. I suspect their internal style guide is the Chicago Manual of Style plus a few things. There’s no doubt guidance on how to format 3d6, the way to set out stat blocks, etcetera, etcetera.

However, since Vic Wertz indicated that they follow the Chicago Manual of Style, I suspect that things which are not RPG specific (like the use of “they” as a gender-neutral, singular possessive pronoun) will be informed by that. Since the use of they was discouraged in the sixteenth edition, they obviously had to choose something for DMs (and went with She/Her).

Want more irony...

The OP and Paizo are both posting rules from the same MoS...but different sections. The OP was posting on general Gender Neutral, but Paizo posted linkage to Singular Possessive, which is different from General usage.

They are talking about two different things.

Want more confusion to the mix...Wikipedia...the oft maligned and hated writing on the subject states...

Quote:

Gender-neutral language

For an essay with suggestions and sample usage, see Wikipedia:Gender-neutral language.

See also: Wikipedia:Writing about women

Use gender-neutral language where this can be done with clarity and precision. For example, avoid the generic he. This does not apply to direct quotations or the titles of works (The Ascent of Man), which should not be altered, or to wording about one-gender contexts, such as an all-female school (When any student breaks that rule, she loses privileges).

Ships may be referred to using either feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers") or neuter forms ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. As with all optional styles, articles should not be changed from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so. See WP:Manual of Style/Military history § Pronouns.

Long nonsense Wikipedia article with Gender Neutral Language tossed in the middle of it

Also,

Quote:


The Manual of Style section on gender-neutral language states, "Use gender-neutral language where this can be done with clarity and precision." Situations this does not apply to include:
Direct quotations (e.g. "All men are created equal" should not be altered to "All people are created equal")
The titles of works (e.g. A Man on the Moon should not be altered to A Human Being on the Moon)
Proper names of things (e.g. Craftsmen Industries should not be altered to Artisan Industries)
Cases where all referents are of one gender (e.g. when talking about an all-female school it is unnecessary to alter "If any student broke that rule, she was severely punished" to "Any student who broke the rule was severely punished")
When the subject prefers a gendered term. This includes a woman preferring a masculine term, for example: "From 1998 to 2000, she [Esther Dyson] was the founding chairman (not chairwoman or chairperson) of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.".
Quote:

Precision and clarity[edit]

Gender-neutral language should not interfere with the readers' ability to understand the material. Precision means that the reader has correctly acquired the facts. The opposite of precision is vagueness. Clarity means that the reader understands what you have written. The opposite of clarity is confusion. If the reader is confused or did not learn the material because of vagueness or circumlocutions, then the material needs to be re-written to comply with the Manual of Style's requirement for clear and precise language.

Different situations may require different approaches. For example, when speaking of isolated individuals, then pluralizing the sentences may not be the ideal solution.
Do not omit gender when it is directly relevant: "The pregnant woman refused to be examined by a male nurse, but accepted help from a female nurse."
Do not omit gender when the result is pointlessly vague: "Queen Elizabeth II is the mother of Charles, Prince of Wales" rather than "Queen Elizabeth II is a parent of Charles, Prince of Wales"
Do not use gender-neutral speech when it will confuse the reader. For example, it is generally best to write about "pregnant women", rather than "pregnant men and women". Although a few pregnant adults do not self-identify as being women (e.g., some transgender and intersex people), the reader will be confused and distracted by the statement that human men can be pregnant.
Conversely, be careful to use gender-neutral language when gendered language will confuse a typical reader. For example, avoid speaking of teachers or shop assistants as being either women (even if this occupation is mostly female in your culture) or as men (even if this occupation is mostly male in your culture).
Do not use gender-neutral speech when it gives undue emphasis to tiny minorities. If writing about nuns, it is appropriate to use feminine language, even though there may be a nun who is also transgender. Similarly, when writing about male pregnancy, it is appropriate to use masculine language, even though most pregnancies occur in females. Use the language that is most suitable for that specific context.
The sex and gender distinction may be helpful in choosing words for some subjects. Generally speaking, prefer female and male to make statements that are exclusively about anatomy and biological sex, and for writing about non-human species: "During embryonic development, the gonads are the precursors of the testes in males and ovaries in females".
Use men, women, boys, and girls in all other situations: "Women are more likely to die from heart disease or stroke than from cancer".

Gender Neutral Language

Gosh...can I say I hate grammar. Does this really bother people all that much?

I really don't notice it when I read Paizo's stuff, so for me it's kind of confusing why it seems as big a deal to some as it is.

However, I do know that there is the entire idea of Gender-Neutral writing in technical writing, and generally accepted ideas today on how to do that.

It may also be that different MoS disagree on what those ideas are or should be.


PS: One more bit of trivia.

The bottom ribbon covers up what I am typing, so what I put dwown (bove this as well, is done completely blind. I cannot see what I have tped or written...or even quoted most of the time.

Some chane with Paizo's formatting of the site has made it so I can still type and post, but I can only do it blind, hence I cannot see what I looks like until I've posted it, and then half the time I cannot edit it afterwards to change it around.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Removed a couple posts (and posts quoting them). It's not okay to insult others for having opinions (and that includes references to groups of people).

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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GreyWolfLord wrote:

The OP and Paizo are both posting rules from the same MoS...but different sections. The OP was posting on general Gender Neutral, but Paizo posted linkage to Singular Possessive, which is different from General usage.

They are talking about two different things.

The second page I linked discusses the current CMOS position on the singular/possessive use of they, on they as a substitute for the generic he, *and* on the use of they to refer to a specific person.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Joe M. wrote:
Do you really think that Paizo does *not* have an internal style manual for writers?
No, I’m sure they do. I suspect their internal style guide is the Chicago Manual of Style plus a few things.

Plus 94 pages of things, actually. But that's still almost a thousand pages less than if we had to provide our own answers for everything that Chicago already answers.


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AS I said before in a similar topic:

English is in a no win situation on this. There's no accepted singular gender-neutral pronoun, and singular "they" can engender misunderstandings (which is highly undesirable in a rulebook).

Maybe in twenty years, "ze" or something similar will be accepted by the public at large. Until then, well, we're pretty much screwed.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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A few years ago, I felt the English language was incredibly close to embracing singular "they" as an all-inclusive pronoun of unspecified gender. Since then, I've encountered singular "they" being used as a preferred gender pronoun... which means singular "they" is actually gender-specific, in the same way "he" and "she" are gender-specific. Goodbye, divisive system of binary gender; hello, divisive system of trinary gender.

TL;DR: Labels for people make me sad. :(


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Simple (and I think obvious) solution - do what they did in the 5E D&D Player's handbook. Use "you" and "your" as much as possible. When not possible, use "his or her" and "he or she". Much fairer and more common-sensical approach compared to using solely "her" and "she" as was done here in the PF2 Playtest rulebook.


A challenge for anybody who wants to do away with gendered pronouns in PF2, please re-write this section from Horror Adventures (Page 201) without them without losing meaning, concision, or flowing awkwardly:

Quote:
The Secret: The GM has one player step outside of the room with her or otherwise out of earshot of the other players. She then provides him with secret information he’s learned during the course of play or something only he’s noticed. She possibly gets a brief response, then as swiftly as possible, they return to the game table. How and whether that information is shared with the rest of the party is up to the player—but now everyone knows that something special happened to him.

I feel like being able to differentiate between two people just by having different pronouns for them is hugely efficient and clear in things like this where the actual identities of the imaginary people in question are otherwise irrelevant.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

A challenge for anybody who wants to do away with gendered pronouns in PF2, please re-write this section from Horror Adventures (Page 201) without them without losing meaning, concision, or flowing awkwardly:

Quote:
The Secret: The GM has one player step outside of the room with her or otherwise out of earshot of the other players. She then provides him with secret information he’s learned during the course of play or something only he’s noticed. She possibly gets a brief response, then as swiftly as possible, they return to the game table. How and whether that information is shared with the rest of the party is up to the player—but now everyone knows that something special happened to him.
I feel like being able to differentiate between two people just by having different pronouns for them is hugely efficient and clear in things like this where the actual identities of the imaginary people in question are otherwise irrelevant.
Quote:
The Secret: The GM and one player step outside of the room or otherwise out of earshot from the other players. The GM then provides the player with secret information they've learned during the course of play or something only their character has noticed. They possibly get a brief response, then as swiftly as possible, the two return to the game table. How and whether that information is shared with the rest of the party is up to the player—but now everyone knows that something special happened to them.

Of the four times the impersonal "they" was used:

"they've learned" is potentially vague, but to be honest, either meaning would make sense. "their character" strongly implies the player. "They get" is logically the GM, because it wouldn't make sense for the GM to provide information and immediately provide a response. And "to them" is clearly the player.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

A challenge for anybody who wants to do away with gendered pronouns in PF2, please re-write this section from Horror Adventures (Page 201) without them without losing meaning, concision, or flowing awkwardly:

Quote:
The Secret: The GM has one player step outside of the room with her or otherwise out of earshot of the other players. She then provides him with secret information he’s learned during the course of play or something only he’s noticed. She possibly gets a brief response, then as swiftly as possible, they return to the game table. How and whether that information is shared with the rest of the party is up to the player—but now everyone knows that something special happened to him.
I feel like being able to differentiate between two people just by having different pronouns for them is hugely efficient and clear in things like this where the actual identities of the imaginary people in question are otherwise irrelevant.

"The GM and one player step outside the room, or otherwise out of earshot of the other players. The GM then provides the player with secret information the player has learned during the course of play, or something only the player has noticed. The GM gets a brief response, then as swiftly as possible, they return to the game table. How and whether that information is shared with the rest of the party is up to the player - but now everyone knows that something special happened to him or her."

Sovereign Court

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As a fairly adept, but still non-native speaker of English, I have to say that this somewhat but not quite plural use of "they" is really weird and confusing to me.

The "They possibly get a brief response" example makes me look for a crowd; were the GM and player talking to someone else? Are there two GMs now?


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:
As a fairly adept, but still non-native speaker of English, I have to say that this somewhat but not quite plural use of "they" is really weird and confusing to me.

If that’s your only confusion when confronted with the English language, you’re doing rather well! :)

“They” has been widely used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun for quite some time, though it is by no means universal.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not this again.

Sovereign Court

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Steve Geddes wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
As a fairly adept, but still non-native speaker of English, I have to say that this somewhat but not quite plural use of "they" is really weird and confusing to me.

If that’s your only confusion when confronted with the English language, you’re doing rather well! :)

“They” has been widely used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun for quite some time, though it is by no means universal.

Yeah I've been aware of the discussions about it for a while, and I realize it's been part of "native" English for a long time now. But in what you might call "international English", I think it's not something most people will be familiar with.

In other words, be very careful in trying to be more inclusive of one group of people, that you don't make things less accessible to another group. I think it's interesting that Desna's Avatar's rewrite of the passage also manages to be gender-neutral, without twigging any confusing pronouns. So I think a happy compromise is possible here.


Madame Endor wrote:

...and no writes like that either, nor does anyone write like that in most other non-fiction writing, including newspapers and magazines.

A normal way to speak or write anywhere else would be to say "your character within 'their' class".

In contemporary modern writing and speaking 'they', 'them', and 'their' aren't plural if it's known that the subject is singular. We don't need to use (and few people in formal settings do use) gendered pronouns for nonspecific people anymore.

When writing about medical doctors, you'd write something like "a doctor after treating a patient must wash 'their' hands".

When writing about driving, you'd write something like "a driver must always look both ways after 'they' enter an intersection when at a stop sign".

It's not necessary to apply a gender to something or someone when the gender is unknown. Most of the English speaking world doesn't do it. It doesn't need to be in the rulebook either, and it's somewhat ridiculous when people read it.

Wanting it be so, does not make it true. What you're describing is not the norm. But, off course it might be so someday ...


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So.... Why does this matter? Like why does it REALLY matter. If they used He/Him, She/Her, or them/they the whole book does it change anything in the book?

No.

No it doesn't.

It doesn't make it easier to read. It doesn't make it MORE inclusive. It doesn't do anything. Maybe they were just like okay the GM is a girl so all instances just use she/her to show its the same person in all instances of GMing. Whoopdie doo.

If you somehow have a problem with to many uses of her vs him then YOU have an issue that needs working out. Not Paizo.

Can we please stop bringing this up?


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5th Ed seems to avoid this, by simply using "you" and "your", throughout.


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Joe M. wrote:
Madame Endor wrote:

We don't need to use (and few people in formal settings do use) gendered pronouns for nonspecific people anymore.

I do technical writing as a part of my job, and no writes like that either, nor does anyone write like that in most other non-fiction writing, including newspapers and magazines.

. . .

It's not necessary to apply a gender to something or someone when the gender is unknown. Most of the English speaking world doesn't do it. It doesn't need to be in the rulebook either, and it's somewhat ridiculous when people read it.

I can see lots of good reasons to go with the genderless singular "they" as a generic pronoun in the ruleset. It does have some small cost here or there (primarily in circumstances contemplating two generic figures, e.g. the GM and a player, where gendering the pronouns can help keep clear who is who in the example). But I doubt that cost outweighs the benefit.

I will say, however, that I was taken aback by the above claims about how pervasive the genderless singular "they" is in professional settings and formal writing ("few people", "no one", "most of the English speaking world"). These claims do not at all track with my own experience. Of course, the empirical question (how common is it?) isn't really what's important here. But I was taken aback to see such strong claims in that regard that felt so off to me. Sounds like your experience has been very different from my own (likely a function of geography and/or specific professional field, I imagine?).

It's also something that is changing generationally (in addition to geography and profession influences). I've returned to school recently, and I'm a pretty strong writer. Strong enough that I tailor my style to the professor. And by style, I mean choices like pronouns, sentence structure, etc. I personally prefer to use "they/them", and with a younger professor (40 and under), they never bat an eye and find it just as natural as I do. With older professors, particularly those more focused on style, I use gendered singular pronouns. I find if you make your paper's easier, perhaps even more fun, to read for the professor that it's worth about 1/2 a letter grade.

I would predict that this is an evolution in language style that you could track and observe in real time if one were so inclined. Within 10-30 years I suspect singular "they" will take over as the more commonly used pronoun for unknown subjects.

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