[UbuntuWomen] Gender specific pronouns in applications

Mackenzie Morgan macoafi at gmail.com
Tue Mar 13 16:38:32 UTC 2012

On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM, Fred H Olson <fholson at cohousing.org> wrote:
> My wife thinks the "singular they" solution (see wikipedia table)
> is most widely used in her experience.  Maybe in a few decades
> a one standard will evolve.

There are some who will argue that singular-they is ungrammatical.
They can go duke it out with Shakespeare.

> On reviewing Jennie's original post I note that it specifically
> is for "applications" rather than for web communication as I
> had misremembered.  Tho I guess the example "He/she is busy"
> would be sent over the net.  But since only third person English
> pronouns incorporate gender, net communications seems like
> where the problem is most often encountered.

The thread started with talking about translations, though, so
English's singular-they doesn't have much bearing when the issue is
that *the rest of the sentence changes* depending on gender. The
example given by the OP was that, in Spanish, "$user is busy" should
be translated as "$user está ocupado" for a male user and "$user está
ocupada" for a female user. I don't know if there's a Spanish syntax
for s/he-type writing, though. "ocupad(o/a)"?

I actually wouldn't be surprised at all if the default away message on
IM clients was just "está ocupado" or simply "ocupado".

Mackenzie Morgan

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