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Felswrath

Pronoun Genders?

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<This thread uses antiquated notions of gender. The question which was asked has been answered. Please move on. Nothing to see here.>

Before I get started with my question, let me note this thread has nothing to do with gender identification. It is solely a question dealing with English Grammar.

In my high school grammar book (from the fifties), we were taught that when a word such as 'student' is used in writing without context to the sex of said student, then the masculine gender pronoun is used. (In this thread I will use the older definitions of sex and gender. Sex is biological - male or female. Gender is grammatical - masculine, feminine, and neither.) So if a soldier is wearing padded armor, HIS soak is increased by two. This would be how it is written in the book regardless of what sex the soldier is, while the pc would use corresponding pronouns because he/she knows what sex his/her character is. 

In everyday conversation, I've often seen the word their used to suggest a singular person of which the sex is not implied. However, I have seen in some of the source books the word 'her' or 'she' automatically used. Have the grammar rules changed? Because I really don't understand this.

Edited by Felswrath

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I don’t think there is a specific grammatical convention for using gender pronouns where gender isn’t known. Since RPG players are more likely to be male, (based on my experiences and observations) male pronouns can be used. In this day and age, being inclusive is considered to be very important, so you’ll also see female pronouns occassionally used as well.

Well it is a bit of a mouthful, the more correct would be “he or she” or “his or her.” Obviously, this is a bit awkward and more of a mouthful, so it isn’t used often. It is the most correct, however.

“They” is only for groups of multiple people. Using it in a singular situation is grammatically WRONG. However, it is shorter than “he or she” and more inclusive than just one, so it is used in casual conversation.

Edited by Yaccarus

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22 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

“They” is only for groups of multiple people. Using it in a singular situation is grammatically WRONG.

That's quite a broad statement. The usage is pretty disputed among grammarians, it's used more in British English than in American, there are instances where its use is undisputed (when referring to nouns which do not indicate gender, like "person" or "child"), etc... And considering that we still don't have an entity for definite decisions regarding grammar, I'd dare say that using it in a singular situation is absolutely correct and fine.
And hey, good ol' Ronny Reagan used it in a speech!

Edited by EpicTed

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7 minutes ago, Yaccarus said:

“They” is only for groups of multiple people. Using it in a singular situation is grammatically WRONG. However, it is shorter than “he or she” and more inclusive than just one, so it is used in casual conversation.

 

9 minutes ago, EpicTed said:

That's quite a broad statement. The usage is pretty disputed among grammarians, it's used more in British English than in American, there are instances where its use is undisputed (when referring to nouns which do not indicate gender, like "person" or "child"), etc... And considering that we still don't have an entity for definite decisions regarding grammar, I'd dare say that using it in a singular situation is absolutely correct and fine.
And hey, good ol' Ronny Reagan used it in a speech!

That being said, in the context of language, if the wrong use of it becomes widespread enough, the language changes to accommodate it. After all, that is how languages change and evolve. So using a grammatically wrong turn can be a form of low key activism. In Sweden a third gender pronoun ("hen") gained enough traction to start showing up in official documents such as court records, and was officially included in the Swedish language in 2015 (because Sweden does have an entity for definite decisions regarding grammar :D). I've seen the word "hir" being thrown around a bit in English, and, at least in writing, something like "s/he" works better in English than in a lot of other languages.

Personally, I usually dance around pronouns when writing things as RPG rules and generally try to avoid them. If I'm writing in Swedish, I might use "hen" depending on the setting. I would use it in a contemporary or futuristic setting, but I consciously do not use when writing for a medieval style RPG as it's "too modern" of a word in most cases. A lot of the time I use "denne/denna" in Swedish, which is technically gendered, but a little less obviously so.

As I haven't really written stuff like this professionally in English I'm not sure how I'd do it. If I'm sloppy, I'll probably use male pronouns out of habit, and if I'm feeling subversive I'd use female ones or mix them up when I go back and proof read it. They/their would probably be what I'd end up using once I tired of going back and rechecking my texts for a fairly even mix of male and female pronouns, or at least not a clear majority of male ones, because I can definitely be enough of neurotic perfectionist to do that.

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Well I think in a setting like Star Wars, where you have different species, who could very well not even have gender identification, I think using the neutral plural of "they" isn't a bad idea.  I mean heck, the Gand don't even have a concept of personal identity from what I've seen, and just say things like "This one" or "Gand does not like this" etc etc.    Never things like "Me" or "I" or "He/She".

So I don't really care what gender identification is used in a sourcebook that is explaining the rules to me.   I've yet to see anyone get confused because they used a gender identification that is less common than the one they are used to.     "He dodged the blaster shot"  "She dodged the blaster shot", both examples easily convey that the unnamed person dodged the blaster shot, which is really the only important information in the statement.  

I'm more worried about the wording of the rules being clear, than if they used he or she.

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13 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

Well I think in a setting like Star Wars, where you have different species, who could very well not even have gender identification, I think using the neutral plural of "they" isn't a bad idea.  I mean heck, the Gand don't even have a concept of personal identity from what I've seen, and just say things like "This one" or "Gand does not like this" etc etc.    Never things like "Me" or "I" or "He/She".

So I don't really care what gender identification is used in a sourcebook that is explaining the rules to me.   I've yet to see anyone get confused because they used a gender identification that is less common than the one they are used to.     "He dodged the blaster shot"  "She dodged the blaster shot", both examples easily convey that the unnamed person dodged the blaster shot, which is really the only important information in the statement.  

I'm more worried about the wording of the rules being clear, than if they used he or she.

In canon, Leia mentioned “spotting at least four genders.” 

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2 hours ago, Felswrath said:

Sex is biological - male or female.

Now not grammar related and basically just a nitpick, but related to outdated textbooks from the fifties. These days we can use genetical analysis and found out that gender is not as binary as first thought. There is literally genetical evidence which supports more than the two primary genders.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex
This is still something rather rare, about 1 out of 2,000 in germany for example. 
Consider this a "the more you know" piece and not something for discussion. :)

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5 minutes ago, SEApocalypse said:


This is still something rather rare, about 1 out of 2,000 in germany for example. 
 

1/2000 doesn't seem that rare to me, given how many people we have on this planet :D   That's WAY better odds than winning a lottery or being struck by lightning!  

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55 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

Four genders of what?  A particular species?  Just in general?  I don't know what canon you are referencing.

In general. It was really just a side note for setting a scene in Bloodline.

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9 hours ago, penpenpen said:

That being said, in the context of language, if the wrong use of it becomes widespread enough, the language changes to accommodate it. After all, that is how languages change and evolve. So using a grammatically wrong turn can be a form of low key activism.

 

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Just to add to the topic, even though it has been answered:

Let's use Pathfinder as an example. The authors generally use the pronoun that fits with the iconic character that they are using in their rules examples. For example, the bard iconic was a male gnome, Lem. So, any time the bard is referred to, then the masculine pronouns are used throughout the examples. The cleric was a female human, Kyra, and again, the feminine pronouns were used throughout the cleric writeup and in later rules examples. The iconics also made it useful to keep consistent artwork since an artist could be provided with which iconic to use and then what that iconic was doing. Such as Valeros (male human fighter) showing off the new sword :)

In examples where an iconic wasn't specifically used, one gender was presumed and used throughout the example. But that doesn't mean they used the same gender in all the examples. The reason being was to avoid confusing the reader. If you start by referring to someone as "he" and then say "she" in the very next sentence... or start with "she" and switch to "he"... it could be confusing as the example would seem to be referring to more than one person.

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That pattern will generally hold in RPG books regardless of whether iconic characters are used - one gender will be used throughout an example.

The "always default to male/you can't use they/them as singular" bit is one of several phony rules of grammar that were introduced a couple of centuries back in an attempt to Latinize English, along with the well-known (and equally false) ones about not beginning a sentence with a conjunction or ending it with a preposition.

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A long time ago, in a gaming basement far, far away.... you'd very rarely find a female role player. The assumption was it was a male domain.

also from a typing and ink use he is shorter than she... petty? Yes.. I agree, but back when there were no pdfs, anything to cut costs

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