Queer Language and E-Primitive


#1

For the awesome queer rewilders on the board, thanks for making this place that much better!

I’ve got a question for any of y’all who have an answer.

I’ve known for a while that genderless third person pronouns exist (alternatives to he, she, it, his hers, its, etc.), developed to rehabilitate the English bias. I don’t know them off hand, I don’t even know if more than one set exists. Please fill me in if anybody knows about this!

Also, I wonder what other queer languaging exists to de-fang the soul-eating bite of English. I’ve realized recently that these kinds of things express vital parts of E-primitive, and it really got me excited to realize folks started this work long before today, without any notion of rewilding or collapse.


#2

concerning the pronouns, i’ve heard “ze” and “zir” used.


#3

Cool! Ze and Zir! They sound like the two mythical lands of Rewilding in Ancient Cascadia. :slight_smile: I’ll try them out.


#4

Plains:
I enjoyed your story, and if you’d like to discuss those issues please start a new topic separate from this one. I created this thread to celebrate this new pronouns, not examine the pros and cons of them. I’ll move your post to a new thread to give you an opportunity to start that discussion.


#5

Funny thing, in the finnish language they dont differentiate between he/she they just use the same word for both which is “hän”. When i first learned about this i couldnt even imagine that this doesnt confuse at all. Of course it doesnt.


#6

I like to occasionally play a legislation game that require players to write & amend th rules of th game (Nomic), & in writing out rules, th players sometimes use Spivak Pronouns. Basically, they work by taking plural pronouns & lopping off th “th”:

he/she/they -> ey (old form: e)
him/her/them -> em
his/her/their -> eir
his/hers/theirs -> eirs
himself/herself/themselves -> emself (old form: eirself)

I like th logic of these, but I found that they don’t work so well spoken. Ey sounds like A or Canadian eh; em sounds like 'em, a slurred them, or just M; eir sounds like air.

I agree wholeheartedly with th “gender neutral pronoun” movement, & would like to see a good set become adopted. In th meantime, I appreciate when writers simply use female examples, or use ‘she’ for ‘he or she,’ because it forces people to face their own unconscious prejudice. I consider Stephen Mitchell’s among my favorite translations of th Tao Te Ching, largely because he uses ‘she’ as often (or more often) than ‘he’ when he talks about th ideal Taoist master. It makes me think differently when I read it, & I appreciate that. Who can really imagine a woman when they see ‘he’ written? If you can, don’t you find that it takes some serious conscious effort?

Sittingly,
Andrew


#7

I like using “them/they” as a gender-neutral pronoun when referring to one person whose gender is unknown. Sure, it’s incorrect now, but so many people use it anyway that we all get what a person’s talking about when they (!!) use it. It feels more natural than anything people have invented specifically for this purpose. (Which isn’t a surprise.)


#8

In Japanese, a lot of speech doesn’t use pronouns, especially informal conversation. Pronouns exist, but they are often not necessary (and in Japanese, if it’s an unnecessary word, it’s cut out!). I have a really fractured knowledge of Japanese, so I can’t go much into detail, but I’ll try to use some examples.

For instance, when I worked at a Japanese restaurant, I would approach tables and say, “O-nomimono-wa,” which translates to “Drink?” (or, non-literally, “Would you like anything to drink?”) It’s not considered “pidgin” Japanese to ask a question with one word like that. A Japanese speaker might say to a group of friends the simple word for “leave” followed by “wa” (which makes it a question) and they would understand the question, “Do you want to leave?”

Another example: “I understand” is “Wakari-mashita.” Which translates more literally to, “It is understood.” So you could also use it to say “They understand” or “Tomoko understands.” No pronoun is needed; it depends on context.


#9

I took a semester of Japanese, ka, is the question marker

=P

But yeah, ever notice with a kid just learning to speak, they may say one word and the parent will know exactly what they want but make them speak a ‘complete’ sentence?


#10

Se, ze and zir are the most “conventional” nuetral pronouns, but lots of people just come up with their own, like squee, and squir.

I’m not sure if I understand you question, so let me know if I’m totally missing the mark…
There is the issue of how folks place validity on certain expressions of gender through language.
An obvious way that people do this is by using the term “real woman”. This implies that trans women are fake, not very nice of course.
A more subtle term used within my community is “bio”, sort for biological, added on to the front of gender. For example “bio-guy” as opposed to “trans-guy”. I personaly don’t use this distinction for a few reasons, the main one being that we are all biological, right? I mean if I’m not biological, what am I? Science carries a ridiculous amount of weight in our culture. I think “biological” means “valid” to a lot of people, and “trans” is an interesting theory to be dissected in debate.
I use “trans”, and “non-trans”, lots of folks dismiss it as cumbersome, but it uses exactly the same number of syllables as “bio”.
That seems to be a huge problem with changing the language we have grown accustom to. Of course it seems cumbersome and forced, learning something new usually is. It begins to be natural, but not many people are driven to give it a shot.


#11

Of course, in Ojibwe, pronouns focus on personhood/non-personhood, rather than gender.


#12

Aagh, I knew that. It’s been a while!

Wa is the indicator for the subject of a sentence. So “O-nominomo-wa” is like saying “drinks” where “drinks” are the new topic at hand, stressing the topicality of ordering drinks… more like “drinks (exclamation point!)” … “Time to order some drinks!” would be the non-literal meaning. It works, within Japanese culture. In America it would be rude for the server to go up to the table and say, “Time to order drinks now.” But it’s not that way for restaurant manners in Japan. Interruptions (server --> customer and vice-versa) are the norm. (It drove me up the wall sometimes.)

Anyway… ahem … off topic.

I think that in a small, tight-knit community, pronouns w/r/t gender would be less problematic. People could pick their own preferred way of being referenced and it wouldn’t be quite as awkward or difficult for others to remember which pronouns each person has chosen. In a way, it would go along with remembering their name.


#13

Mandarin works the same way. You use “ta” for singular third person and “ta-ren” for plural. Context overcomes the ambiguities.

I prefer using the plural as well. It doesn’t concern itself with gender, and has found a lot of usage in colloquial english as a gender-neutral option. And I agree that it feels the most natural.


#14

I didn’t really want to start a thread on whether or not folks like gender-neutral language invention or not, but I see that it inspires some folks, so, groovy.

I originally went this direction not just because of binary he/she issues, but to get rid of IT.

I hate IT. IT kills. IT destroys relationships and lives.

I shy away from ‘they and them’ uses because they don’t necessarily encourage one to stop using ‘it’. ‘It works’, ‘make it’, ‘I love it’, ‘deal with it’, will probably still hang around, along with conceptualizations of nonhumans as ‘it’.

Unless someone can figure out how to make it stick. Anyone? Anyway, I see e-primitive as growing in this direction: NO MORE of ‘IT’!

I don’t see any life-affirming use whatsoever in the presence of ‘it’.


#15

What do you say may “encourage one to stop using ‘it’,” Willem or anybody? I’d like to know and don’t really no where to begin. Please share…nevermind…

I must have read over this my first time around. Well, with that say anybody got anymore ways that encourage getting rid of ‘it’? Please share. Thanks.


#16

I agree, ‘It’ should only exist in a game of tag : )


#17

Ah, well, I use IT as my pronoun of choice, for me it is the only option that speaks to me. IT is for monstrosities, IT is unknown, uncomfortable, terrifying. That is how I was feeling about my gender before I started using IT. I was so fucking depressed, and after 8 years of struggling for a basic level of comfort within my community, I embraced that “freakish” side of myself through the use of IT. What at first had been masochistic and self hating actually ended up being extremely positive for me.
We use IT for animals, the Earth, plants, monsters, and many other things that I feel close to. This is objectifying and unfortunate, sure, but as of now, and within todays use of the english language, it can also be positive in my life.
I do understand the desire to escape IT. If E-prime is ever widely spoken, I would be all about changing my pronouns to something else even if they did not ring the same way IT, and Thing do with me. While going through life in civilization, with people that have never heard of E-prime, IT is the only option I have had available to me that has allowed me to maintain my sanity.


#18

Hi again,

So today as I walked my dogs I thought about pronouns. I have an offering.

ki

. . . in place of it, her, he, him, she. I derived “ki” from “chi,” th Chinese word for th energy inherent in all things. “Ki” sounds like “key”.

Calling something (or someone) “ki” labels it (or she or he) not as a thing, animal, or person, but as a pattern of energy, a process. “Ki” applies to all things, all life forms, all abstract non-things (ideas & such). It means we’d no longer call these “things,” but rather “ki,” patterns of energy, vibrations.

“Ki” potentially solves th “it” problem as well as th “gender neutral” problem. “Ki” doesn’t distinguish between person, animal, thing, non-thing, nor between male or female. When we want to make such distinctions, for special cases, we can make some compound words like “ki-she”, “ki-he”, “ki-human” (or maybe just “ki, th human”), but by default, we’d leave “ki” as “ki”.

I like that “ki” sounds like “key.” It seems an apt metaphor; how would our world change if people unconsciously considered th “things” & “people” in their lives “keys” to previously unopened doors & new experiences?

I came up with some examples of ways that “ki” might fill in for conventional pronouns. Altho th examples focus on th word “ki”, I think it sounds better & makes more sense not to empahsize “ki,” just as you wouldn’t emphasize “it”. Use th same tone of voice in both sentences, but notice how your feeling toward th thing/animal/person changes.

it:

Look at it. - Look at ki.
It pleases me. - Ki pleases me.
Where can I find it? - Where can I find ki?
Just think about it. - Just think about ki.
It rains. - Ki rains.

she/he/him/her:
She/he looks friendly. - Ki looks friendly.
Go to him. - Go to ki.
Give her this message. - Give ki this message.
I love your dog, what do you call it/she/he? - . . . what do you call ki?

its/his/her/hers:
Put it in its correct place. - Put ki in ki’s correct place.
Have you seen his sweater? - Have you seen ki’s sweater?
Tell me her name. - Tell me ki’s name.
She considers it hers. - Ki considers it ki’s.

itself/herself/himself:
It completes itself. - Ki completes kiself.
She did it herself. - Ki did it kiself.
What does he think about himself? - What does ki think about kiself?

everything/everyone/everybody:
Everything looks perfect. - Everyki looks perfect.
Did you say hi to everyone? - Did you say hi to everyki?

thing/person/animal:
Tell me about this thing/person/animal. - Tell me about this ki.

& if we want to go all th way, perhaps to sublime absurdity, we can replace all pronouns with “ki”! Thus, our languaging wouldn’t distinguish between “I” & “you”. Talk about creating a more tolerant universe by promoting empathy. . . .


#19

P.S. I know my last post is exactly what you where not interested in discussing Willem. I’m not trying to start a discussion about my pronoun choice. I am actually very much unintrested in that. I just had to say my piece on my love of using IT and Thing for my personal pronouns. In my case, I would go as far as saying that it has indeed been life affirming.


#20

Nodal nim, that is the best new idea I’ve heard about this issue in a long time. Awesome.