Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pronoun Madness

I have been assiduously following my institution’s recommendations regarding preferred student pronouns.  Students announce their pronouns on the first day of class.  We all commit to remembering not only their names and faces (always a burden for me) but also their pronouns.  In class discussion we have little signs on our desks with name and pronoun identifiers.

I find this extremely annoying, but not because I’m bothered by the freedom of my students to define their gender as they choose.  Far from it.  What irks me is that we have to go through so much bother because of the shortcomings in our language.  Rather than spend so much energy on pronouns, why not change the language?

Simply eliminated gendered pronouns from English—poof.  We could all get along just fine with a generic, formerly plural they-them.  Less to remember and stress about.  This reform would be even more welcome in languages like French, German and Spanish that are gendered through and through and throw up so many more barriers to well-meaning language learners like myself.

And for reciprocity, and to make it a package deal, the US could switch to a metric system at the same time.

Peter Dorman (he/him)

14 comments:

john c. halasz said...

My father was Hungarian and in Hungarian there is no distinction between he, she and it, so I grew up considerably confused, never quite sure which one I was.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Everybody knows that you are an "it," John, :-).

Bill said...

Change the language? Use the language we have. English adopted the singular usage of the plural form, "you", long ago. And we already use the plural form, "they", as singular, informally. Just say, "they". :)

Les Baker said...

The most widely spoken language on Earth, Chinese, handles the matter this way.

Ta = the singular personal pronoun, which refers to male persons and female persons without distinction. Chinese does not have nominative or objective case. "Ta" would therefore be the Chinese rendering for English pronouns "he", "him", "she" and "her", when "her" is used in the objective case, but not when "her" is possessive.

Chinese forms the plural by adding the particle "men" to the noun or pronoun in questions. Therefore, English "they" and "them", when used in reference to plural persons, would be rendered in Chinese as "tamen."

Chinese forms the possessive by adding the particle "de" to the noun or pronoun in question. Therefore, English "his," "hers", and "her", when "her" is possessive, would all be rendered in Chinese as "tade"; English "their" and "theirs" would be rendered as "tamende".

Les Baker said...

Needless ambiguity, leading to confusion, is created when the same pronoun is used for singular and plural reference. Formerly English had "thou, thee, thine" as singular and "you, ye, your" as plurual. Now that the singular has been discarded, and the plural has been made to do double duty, "you" can be unclear about whom "you" refers to in some contexts--you as an indvidual, you as a group?--unless you speak a Southern dialect in which the plural is "you all", or an Indiana dialect in which the plural is "you uns"; both of these solutions lack felicity.

For the same reasons, I am not happy with the proposal to make "they" and "them" do double duty as singular and plural. The fact that it is being done already doesn't make it a good idea.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Peter Dorman (he/him)

Whatever this is, it is NOT economics.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Wow, yippee, Egmont, you turning up lets me post on economics and provide an even better universal theory better than even yours! So, the problem is not profit theory and the failure to distinguish retained profits from distributed ones, it is capital theory and the failure to distinguish unrealized capital gains and realized ones. So, you need to replace the second term in your first Axiom with NG where N is the number of capital sales and G is the average realized net capital gain. You can keep all your denunciations of all previous schools of economic thought and even be more scientific than you already are.

Oh, and make that second axiom be about output equals per capital output times population. That is even more general, and thus more scientific than your second axiom. So, see, I can be more scientific than you in helping you improve your wonderful theory.

Jerry Brown said...

Given the situation, maybe it would be easier to use "this person" rather than he or she. And you could use it for all of your students and maybe they will think you are just a little eccentric like most professors.

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Barkley Rosser

You say: “So, the problem is not profit theory and the failure to distinguish retained profits from distributed ones, it is capital theory and the failure to distinguish unrealized capital gains and realized ones.”

In fact, it is BOTH. Profit theory, as it is taught since 200+ years, fails to axiomatically distinguish between (i) monetary profit and distributed profit and (ii) monetary and nonmonetary profit. Issue (ii) has been dealt with elsewhere.* Your wow-yippee argument proves that you are ill-informed.

Capital is NOT in the axiom set of the pure consumption economy which explicitly defines the MINIMUM set. Capital has to be DERIVED from the minimum set and comes logically in a later step. Capital has been dealt with elsewhere.* You are simply ill-informed.

You say: “Oh, and make that second axiom be about output equals per capital output times population. That is even more general, and thus more scientific than your second axiom.”

The relationship between total labor input L and population is given with this formula
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AXEC93.png

The differentiated individual labor time Li is formally split into the norm time U, e.g. 8 hours per day times working days per period, and an individual factor l1, l2 … li … ln, such that Li=Uli. A value of li=0 means that the person is not in the labor force, li=1 means that the i-th worker works full-time, li=0.5 means half-time, and li greater1 means overtime. This gives the relationship between total labor input L in the axioms and total population n. The issue has been dealt with elsewhere.* You are simply ill-informed.

In sum: Nice try to filibuster away the fact that economists do NOT know until this day what profit is and that Econ 101 is axiomatically false and beyond repair.** Filibuster, though, does not help: “What is now taught as standard economic theory will eventually disappear, no trace of it will remain in the universities or boardrooms because it simply doesn’t work: were it engineering, the bridge would collapse.” (McCauley)

Whatever it is that Peter Dorman (he/him), Sandwichman and you are doing on this blog, it is NOT economics and it is NOT science.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke

* See blog
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/
or working papers
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1210665

** For details see ‘The father of modern economics and his imbecile kids’
http://axecorg.blogspot.de/2016/11/the-father-of-modern-economics-and-his.html

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

LOL, Egmont, just LOL.

john c. halasz said...

I often felt that way, Barkley.

reason said...

Yeah but,
what word are you going to use? Does he/she/it become shit?=)

Anonymous said...

When's the last time you got laid, Petey ?

Susan bowman said...

KABAR BAIK!

Untuk mengenalkan diri dengan benar,
Ibuku SUSAN dari [SUSAN BOWMAN LOAN COMPANY]

Saya adalah pemberi pinjaman pribadi, perusahaan saya memberikan pinjaman segala jenis dengan suku bunga 2% saja. Ini adalah kesempatan finansial di depan pintu Anda, terapkan hari ini dan dapatkan pinjaman cepat Anda.

Ada banyak di luar sana yang mencari peluang atau bantuan keuangan di seluruh tempat dan tetap saja, tapi mereka tidak dapat mendapatkannya. Tapi ini adalah kesempatan finansial di depan pintu Anda dan dengan demikian Anda tidak bisa melewatkan kesempatan ini.
Layanan ini membuat individu, perusahaan, pelaku bisnis dan wanita.
Jumlah pinjaman yang tersedia berkisar dari jumlah pilihan Anda untuk informasi lebih lanjut hubungi kami melalui email:
Susanbowmanloancompany@gmail.com