Thread: He, She...

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  1. #1

    He, She...

    Hello

    Is there some kind of English word that describes a person by its gender but you don't want to say the gender of the person? This may sound confusing, so let me explain it!

    In Sweden we got a word called "Hen", which basiaclly means he or she. It could be either of them, but the writer doesn't want to tell the reader what, maybe because of various reasons (for example that the gender of the person doesn't matter etc, etc...)

    Here's an example that I will write in Swedish then translate it to English.

    "Hen öppnade dörren med en nyckel"
    "... opened the door with a key"

    Also when you search for a job in some companies, they want you to define yourself as an individual with han, hon or hen.

    Han = He
    Hon = She
    Hen = ?

    Tell me if you still don't understand and I'll try to explain it for you

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Dreadlord Ishmad's Avatar
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    In Finland we have "Hän" for both men and women.

  4. #4
    The Unstoppable Force Rukentuts's Avatar
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    his/her

    Otherwise you can try using 'they'.
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  5. #5
    For english the gender-neutral pronouns are Zhe, zher, zhim.
    Or you could say "one" which is more commonly used

  6. #6
    Pandaren Monk Evela's Avatar
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    Oh you crazy swedes with your gender neutral daycares and kindergartens...
    "They" should do.

  7. #7
    Immortal mistuhbull's Avatar
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    He opened the door
    She opened the door
    It opened the door
    They opened the door

    And then "invented" pronouns http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-...Modern_English
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  8. #8
    In America, if you are talking generally about anyone, you alternate using he or she. You might start out a paragraph saying "he" but the next paragraph you may use "she". Some author's will just use their own gender to decide what nouns they'll use.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Zeus View Post
    Hello

    Is there some kind of English word that describes a person by its gender but you don't want to say the gender of the person? This may sound confusing, so let me explain it!

    In Sweden we got a word called "Hen", which basiaclly means he or she. It could be either of them, but the writer doesn't want to tell the reader what, maybe because of various reasons (for example that the gender of the person doesn't matter etc, etc...)

    Here's an example that I will write in Swedish then translate it to English.

    "Hen öppnade dörren med en nyckel"
    "... opened the door with a key"

    Also when you search for a job in some companies, they want you to define yourself as an individual with han, hon or hen.

    Han = He
    Hon = She
    Hen = ?

    Tell me if you still don't understand and I'll try to explain it for you
    His/her, that's really your only alternative, or you could just alter between he or she, that seems to work too.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by DanielBrems View Post
    Oh you crazy swedes with your gender neutral daycares and kindergartens...
    "They" should do.
    In finnish gender isn't even used. "It" is used

  11. #11
    Scarab Lord Maxilian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dashadeadhead View Post
    In finnish gender isn't even used. "It" is used
    But isn't ''It" used to talk about object and animals only?

  12. #12
    The Lightbringer slime's Avatar
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    No, english does not have a word like this that I am aware of. There is the word "Shim" - but I always thought that was an insult for a person that was transgendered, or an insult for an androgynous person.

    As far a the zhim mentioned above - I've never heard of that, but it does seem inline. As far as "one" that didn't seem to fit into your example so I didn't mention "one".

  13. #13
    Bloodsail Admiral Neliah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxilian View Post
    But isn't ''It" used to talk about object and animals only?
    I say "it" to people if I don't know their gender. I refer to my cat as she

  14. #14
    I am Murloc! darenyon's Avatar
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    theres no word. using "they" singularly is considered very bad grammar.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by slime View Post
    No, english does not have a word like this that I am aware of. There is the word "Shim" - but I always thought that was an insult for a person that was transgendered, or an insult for an androgynous person.
    did you read the thread, a few people already posted its ze or zhe.

  16. #16
    The Lightbringer UnifiedDivide's Avatar
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    I think "They" is the only word that works really.

    "It" is more commonly used for objects I would say.

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  17. #17
    Ooh, I see. As maxilian said, "It" is only used for animals or objects in Swedish too.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by maxilian View Post
    But isn't ''It" used to talk about object and animals only?
    No, it's not. Not in finnish. It's personal pronoun for he/she The word is "hän". So often when finns speak a language that actually has different words for he and she, they confuse them and say the wrong gender.

  19. #19
    The Lightbringer slime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamdwelf View Post
    did you read the thread, a few people already posted its ze or zhe.
    Yea i did, was updating my post as you put this one up. I gotta say one thing - I am no master of the english language - but I don't think most Americans would know that. Is this more of a British English thing?

  20. #20
    Mechagnome Liagala's Avatar
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    In formal, very proper English you would use "one" to refer to someone. It's so formal though, that just saying "One opened the door" is uncomfortable and odd. It's used almost exclusively in educational settings - saying it anywhere else comes across as being extremely high and mighty.

    Common usage often uses the plural to refer to someone of indeterminate gender. "My friend told me you like me, but they didn't want you to know they told me, so I'm not telling you their name." It's improper grammar and wouldn't score you any points on a job interview, but it is used very, very often in everyday speech.

    If you're looking for something to use on a college application or other important document, parenthesis (or a slash, depending on usage) are the way to go. "A dedicated person works very hard at everything (s)he does, and is very conscientious about his/her work."

    When I was in school I was taught that it is grammatically proper to use the masculine pronoun whenever gender is unknown or irrelevant, but that is becoming less true as time goes on. I've never heard of this "zhe" stuff, so I can't speak to that one way or the other.
    Last edited by Liagala; 2013-01-08 at 08:19 PM.

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