Talk:Gender neutrality in English

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Esperanto error[edit]

The Esperanto examples are good on the whole, but there _is_ a word for "parent": gepatro. Feel free to make the change. SiennaLizard 14:32, 22 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

One tiny change and yet you still let two months go by waiting for someone else to do it rather than just highlighting the incorrect sentance and pressing "delete" all by yourself. There, it's been done. Master Deusoma 17:39, 1 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The article for Spivak pronouns links here; shouldn't there be a section here discussing it, or a "see also" link? B7T 06:59, 29 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Split article?[edit]

Since this page is getting very long, I'd suggest splitting most of the section "Gender neutral language modification in other languages" into its own article and leaving just a short discussion in that section without specific examples from many languages. (Right now, the first paragraph under that section header is very specific to IE languages). Comments? cab 10:46, 29 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, I decided to be bold. Basically, I took the old Gender-neutral language article and cut the non-English parts out to Gender-neutral language in Indo-European languages and Gender-neutral language in non-Indo-European languages. What remained turned out to be very English-specific, so I moved the page to Gender-neutral language in English and fixed the double redirects. So far the results feel less than satisfactory, especially for Gender-neutral language in non-Indo-European languages which just feels like a laundry list. I will continue to work on improving it in the coming days; your suggestions are appreciated.
One question I do have for all contributors: is there anything which could be said generally about gender-neutral language regardless of the language in question (e.g. non-specific to English)? Such as the politics of it, or the relation to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, etc. Would it be enough to make an article? cab 15:48, 7 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I applaud your decision to split the article, but I think that, instead of having one article for gender-neutral language in the Indo-European languages and another for gender-neutral language in non-Indo-European languages, it would have been more interesting to have one for languages that have grammatical genders, and another for those that don't. FilipeS 17:05, 29 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

this article makes sexist language sound like a bad thing...[edit]

but then again, wikipedia actually has an article on "womyn" so I guess I shouldn't be surprised... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Well, isn't sexism a bad thing?
Sexism is a great thing, it keeps us bitches in the kitchen where we belong —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 15:03, 19 January 2007 (UTC).Reply[reply]

exactly, bitch; lol

Whether it is or not isn't the business of an article on Wikipedia to say. The article about Adolf Hitler doesn't say "Hitler was an evil man", even though almost everyone reading the article will consider him one based on his actions. I agree with the previous person that this article radiates a general tone of approval towards gender-neutral language and disapproval towards gender-specific language. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 11:45, 19 December 2006 (UTC).Reply[reply]

'Common positions' section[edit]

I am sceptical of the value of the second half of this section. It discusses a specific article about women's usage of language and their role in society. However, it does not talk about gender-neutral language - it is discussing how the language is used by women, a very different topic. I'm inclined to remove the entire second half of this section (possibly putting it somewhere more fitting, if such a place can be found), because it doesn't actually discuss gender-neutral language. --Sam Pointon 15:04, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

After looking at the page history, I see that the passage in question was added two days ago by a user otherwise uninvolved with the article. In that case, I'm going to be bold and remove it. --Sam Pointon 15:15, 31 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I read the section about the Swedish language and I think the sentence at the end of the section: "Swedish women also generally have lower salaries than men for the same kind of work, because they are all expected to stay at home with children at some point and, while well represented in government, are scarce in higher company positions.", although partly true, really does not have anything to do with gender-neutral language issues and hence I have decided to remove that part of the text. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

I think you made the right decision. Ruakh 00:02, 6 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Linguistically and psychologically speaking[edit]

This section reeks of personal opinion, makes assertions that are uncited and uses "I" and "we" a lot. I'm tempted to remove the whole thing, as that entire section seems based on nothing other than the synesthesia of one user who has nothing else to do with the entry. Not that I have historically either, but it definitely needs to be reworked at the very least.
Kelbesque 16:28, 19 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The use of "I" there is ridiculous (eg, "the few languages I know"), and the viewpoint described, while intriguing, needs evidence. I'm going to remove this section. --Lazar Taxon 05:13, 2 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is Ridiculous[edit]

I'm sorry but seriously, it seems these people think language itself is a conspiracy against women, which is silly. 18:35, 11 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Ridiculous" - please refer to discourse for explanation of the arguments behind gender neutral language.--Cailil 17:53, 20 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, I think the person who started this discussion section is right, this article is obviously slanted to make language seem like a conspiracy against women. ALSO who really cares about the spelling, that's irrelivent. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:06, 6 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Radical Feminists are the source of this annoyance. I support feminism, the right for women to be a full-fledged citizen of their country. But this stinking idea that there is a conspiracy against women, and men are the source of all of women's pain is ridiculous. -Yancyfry 03:52, 7 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Don't feel too bad. On more than three occasions i've had to use a list of literally nearly every available English dictionary to refute idiots who've claimed men can't be Feminists by showing them that every single definition available states that any gender can be a Feminist.

It's both sad, and astoundingly hilarious, that each and every time i've had one or more idiots complaining about a, completely serious, conspiracy of male lexicographers. It's just ridiculous. (talk) 11:18, 9 July 2013 (UTC) HarlequinReply[reply]

no reference for phrase[edit]

There is no reason to assume that the traditional linguistic gender hierarchies reflect a bias against women. The female grammatical gender is simply marked and it could actually reflect women being more valued than men.[4]

This phrase has a reference link which goes nowhere.. -- Sy / (talk) 12:50, 12 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Such as,for instance, "man" being used as a synonym for "people"? Our language's sexism is not an "assumption" but a fact. It is quite comical, though, that the advancement of one group causes ignorant people to fear the downfall of another, demonstrated in the proposition above that gender-neutral language shows a preference for women.

The ignorance shown is yours. Originally "man" didn't have any sense of male or female, but was used only to mean a human. So the fact isn't really there. --2604:2000:E84A:8200:3D04:14DA:2C46:8EAF (talk) 02:51, 11 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

About the sentence...[edit]

Inclusive language follows the principles of gender-neutral language and extends them to other areas of language, such as referring neither to adults nor children when discussing a person whose age cannot otherwise be determined.

Please give some examples when it comes to age. Georgia guy 19:18, 6 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

contradiction[edit] what I would call "Gender-neutral_language_in_English#In_other_languages" (shouldn't be more than a link), and unless these unsourced claims are moved to the articles now on top of that section, they should better be deleted... Opinion, anyone? --FlammingoParliament 21:49, 26 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The stuff you brought from Feminism does not seem to add anything worthwhile to Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender or to Gender-neutrality in languages without grammatical gender (which is where it should be, not here). I would delete most of it, and revert to the previous version of the section. FilipeS 16:51, 27 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It was redundant there, but it seems to be redundant here, as well. --FlammingoParliament 17:08, 27 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There may be some sentences in it which would benefit the other two articles... FilipeS 17:13, 27 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


There is a *lot* of opinion being thrown about in the Affirmative Positions section. "Gender neutral language has become both accepted and expected" is not an NPOV statement. Some of this section is well-written and conforms to NPOV, but much of it requires cleanup. Akqjt 10:23, 4 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

this article isn't very neutral[edit]

for instance, "Gender neutral language has become both accepted and expected. As a result, gendered language sounds parochial and out-of-date. It also risks offending readers of both sexes. This is particularly true when the language is based on stereotypical assumptions about occupations, as when the language infers that all lawyers are men or that all teachers are women ..."
what? 00:49, 15 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I found this tag on this line in the article.

  • Men and women are different and speakers need not be afraid to admit that.[citation needed]

Hmmm, which fact is disputed? Men and women are different? or Speakers need not be afraid to admit that? I presume the tagger meant the latter, and as a joke. Joke appreciated, and recorded here for others to enjoy, but tag removed. Alastair Haines 08:26, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Grammar of example[edit]

One example in the article says:"Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor, whom I hope is friendly." Shouldn't this be as follows? "Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor, who I hope is friendly." Andrew Moylan 14:54, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

it should, and does now, thanks. see whom --FlammingoHey 15:51, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hey Flammingo. You reverted your change back to using "whom". Why's that? Andrew Moylan 16:18, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Now, what word in the sentence being talked about is the subject of the clause "is friendly"?? Georgia guy 16:24, 17 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not quite sure what you're asking Georgia Guy. For now I'm going to change it to "who" because I think that's more likely to be correct. Andrew Moylan 05:30, 18 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Who is correct. Relative pronouns depend on function in subordinate clause. The subordinate clause here is I hope [that] my new doctor is friendly. Test with pronoun she:
  • I hope that her is friendly.
Nope, not object, but subject, so who is correct.
A good example of where generic pronouns like she or he are superior. ;)
But it makes you wish there weren't no such thing as grammar, don't they?
Alastair Haines 05:52, 18 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Whom I hope" seems correct to me. It's "who" who is hoped, not "I". FilipeS 22:38, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry, Filipe, it is 'who'.
This is, by the way, a great reason to use generic singulars, they are much clearer.
  • Assume the doctor is a woman.
  • Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor, I hope her (equivalent of whom) is friendly. X
  • Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor, I hope she (equivalent of who) is friendly. :D
  • Consider the contrast
  • Yesterday I talked with my sister, I love her very much.
  • Yesterday I talked with my sister, whom I love very much.
  • Today I ate with my brother, he is such a pig.
  • Today I ate with my brother, who is such a pig.
  • Who or whom is decided on whether the referent is subject or object of the subordinate clause.
  • What is the object of hope in "I hope to read the book that John might give me."
  • Is hope a transitive or intransitive verb? Complete the sentence with a one word object: "I hope ----."
OK, sorry, I'm an ESL teacher. :( I'll shut up now. Alastair Haines 00:09, 21 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What's happening? It still says 'whom' in the example.Chompas 11:40, 15 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You're right. I've corrected it. FilipeS 11:53, 15 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I believe who vs. whom is really a case (wink, wink) of accusative vs. dative. (talk) 17:34, 9 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Advocates and opponents[edit]

What fraction of all American grammarians are advocates of gender-neutral language and what fraction are opponents?? Georgia guy 22:28, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

[1] Statistics on some questions from 2000. You have to bear in mind that most professional writers are not allowed to express an opinion divergent from institutional and government style manuals. This panel of writers were consulted in private and anonymously. The brave new world of gender-neutral prescriptivism rules, my friend. The words we use shape the way we think you see. Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. So the way to control people's minds is to control their language. I'm not American, but does that sound consititutional to you? God bless y'all! Alastair Haines 23:52, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]



The article states that the phrase "Tomorrow i will meet my new doctor; I hope they are friendly." sounds absurd. This is interesting, as in Australia this would, from my experience, be common usage. Is this not the case elsewhere in the world? 10:00, 29 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. It sounds perfectly unremarkable to me. I'll remove it. Misodoctakleidist 22:25, 10 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The usage is apparently different by country. In the United States of America, this would probably sound absurd to most listeners. Note that I am in favor of gender-neutral language, but this would sound very odd to me if it came out of an American's mouth. Wakedream (talk) 05:41, 31 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is absolutely absurd. It destroys meaning in grammar. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brancron (talkcontribs) 07:23, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wow, that sentence hurts my ears. I can not believe it is common usage anywhere. (talk) 03:20, 1 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

ditto for my region since this list of comments looks a bit like a dialect survey anyway so figured I'd be a datapoint...also american. East coast. Newhampshire specifically. 20year old. female. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:59, 7 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Why not just use the normal "Tomorrow I will meet my new doctor. I hope he is friendly."? --2604:2000:E84A:8200:3D04:14DA:2C46:8EAF (talk) 02:51, 11 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Contradiction in negative positions[edit]

I'm surprised to see the statement "Traditional use of gender in English does reflect sexism", especially in the negative positions section. The rest of the article avoids making this statement, as it is dependent on interpretation and may only reflect specificity rather than inherent sexism. It also directly contradicts a sentence made five bullet points earlier: "Traditional use of the English language, and other Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages, including using male pronouns when referencing both males and females, is not sexist" in the Negative positions section. I'm removing it. Verslapper 01:44, 8 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removed paragraph[edit]

This paragraph was in the text, without any kind of "this person said this, and this is relevant because [...]". I removed it because, despite of the quotation marks, it read as though it was Wikipedia saying this, not some person.

"Many people believe that the general use of the term 'man' is offensive, or at least inaccurate. Phrases like 'no man is an island' or 'every man for himself' seem to exclude women. Although reading history as if every use of 'man' or 'he' was a deliberate insult to women is probably excessive," some people seek alternatives.

Also, this entire article reads as one big flaming argument in support of gender-neutral language. It needs a huge NPOV rewrite. 01:58, 11 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

POV template[edit]

I've added the neutrality disputed template for a number of reasons. Here are some specific quotes that are very bad:

Another example shows the practical nature of the gender-neutral language proscription.

Gender neutral language is widely accepted.

Then to eliminate sexism, we would do well to eliminate allegedly "sexist" forms from our language.

Also, the positive views section is much longer and more sophisticated than the negative views section. The negative views section does not really address the points brought forth in the long positive views section.

In general, the whole article reads as a clear endorsement of gender-neutral language, not just because of the specific words used, but due to the length of certain sections and the whole approach taken to the subject.

It is actually quite striking that an article named "Gender-neutral language" does itself contain such loaded language. 02:18, 11 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Also, the entire introduction is biased -- is important that an encyclopedic description start with a description of current language use and then proceed to present the goals of those advocating this change in language usage or its prevention.


Since most of these are however men, a more correct description of the current language situation needs to consider use in organisations whose chairperson is a woman. Less than half of the members of the American Heritage Dictionary's usage panel accept the use of the word chairman in describing a woman. (talk) 22:50, 13 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I also find it ironic that an article about being "gender-neutral" may not be neutral. It appears that this has been improved. Wakedream (talk) 05:50, 31 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It may be that there simply are not as many views going against the use of gender neutral language. It is true that much of academia and the press have gone over to gender neutral language of some stripe. Obviously they are doing this for a reason. I don't think the prevalence of arguments supporting gender neutral language is non-NPOV. There is no requirement in WP:NPOV that the article must give equal voice to arguments on all sides of an issue. On the contrary, see for instance WP:UNDUE. Some of the wording should certainly be changed, however. I agree that the passages offered above should probably be edited for NPOV. (Although I note that some of these appear to be attributed to other sources, in which case the problem is not NPOV, but rather unclear citations.) Silly rabbit (talk) 04:15, 10 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A section in the Manual of style on gender-neutral language[edit]

I've been driving a gradual overhaul of the language and organisation of the MOS over the past month. This is likely to take a few more months to complete.

I think it's high time that the MOS provided guidance on gender-neutral language, and within a week or two I'll be posting a draft section on the talk page of the MOS. Almost by coincidence, a discussion of related issues has recently erupted on that page.

I'll notify users here when I post the draft, and will welcome input from this quarter. The guidelines will need to be expressed as succinctly as possible, and will need to be reasonably constrained in their scope and application. Tony 13:42, 30 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Incorrect Old English[edit]

The gender of wífman in Old English was masculine, not feminine, as compound words adopted the gender of their head. The sentence "On the other hand, the word "woman" (from wífman, grammatically feminine) replaced wíf as the word for female person." should be revised. See any Old English dictionary for reference, e.g. Correon 00:42, 24 October 2007 (UTC)CorreonReply[reply]

A word being grammatically masculine or feminine does not determine whether or not it can refer to the opposite sex: they're just grammatical categories: this is what makes the feminist arguments that "the language needs to be gender neutral" pointless: wif did, indeed, refer to a woman, who is gendered female, whether or not the word is masculine. [rolls eyes.]


11:46, 31 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheResearchPersona (talkcontribs)
While this is true, you miss the point entirely. Correon does refer to grammatical gender, which is incorrectly given in the quoted sentence. (talk) 23:45, 4 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"A deeper variant of these arguments involves the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the suggestion that our language shapes our thought processes. Then to eliminate sexism, we would do well to eliminate allegedly "sexist" forms from our language."

This is a huge misunderstanding of the hypothesis. It even that strong linguistic determinism, which is the least favored interpretation of the hypothesis. What Sapir-Whorf is about is the connection between culture and language. Things that matter for a culture usually have a specialized vocabulary; for instance, artists and painters will have a larger vocabulary about color terms because it is culturally relevant to do so. Sapir-Whorf is not about causation between words and thought -- it's just an observation about culturally relevant terminology.

To recap, this article assumes linguistic determinism and thought-causation, neither of which are widely accepted, and the article misconstrues the whole hypothesis. (talk) 09:31, 5 December 2007 (UTC)TJReply[reply]

I'm curious: how else is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis supposed to be construed? FilipeS (talk) 22:59, 13 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
They are correct: Sapir-Whorf is about connection, not determinism.


11:48, 31 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheResearchPersona (talkcontribs)

Ignorance of Language[edit]

Doesn't it strike anyone fighting over this that feminist meddling to try and force a language to unnaturally adapt to an ideology like based on a misrepresentation of it history? Two things: "man" is even now commonly known AND accepted, as the proper gender-inclusive term for a both sexes (see Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary unabridged edition 2). "Man" wasn't forced upon the masses or any like thing...the language naturally developed to be the way it is; and even despite being "gender inclusive" the word "man" still, however, remained (even then) a generic [i]masculine[/i]. The feminist arguments that someone just the presence of "man" being used by default being somehow sexist is akin to childish brats throwing tantrums over matters they're uneducated about...and this intrusion even into academia and politically-correct consciousness is appalling and discouraging. Personally I would not be averse to the re-establishment of, perhaps, "wer" in our language for the specific designation of a male...however it remains that "man" would still remain masculine and would not ever specifically address a woman outside compounds (mailman, etc.), just as this doesn't happen in languages with similar features. And sad as some might think, we can't neuter people. Even the etymology of "human" is...a masculine. : ) The thing English rightly possesses as a "neuter" is the proper use of "one", such as "one should not do such things". Yet "one" cannot fit many contexts, you cannot say "a one's got to do what a one's got to do". And despite ourselves there are distinctives between the sexes, developmentally, physiologically, and mentally (of the soul); I would say even spiritually: and it's sad that so many are so rash and zealous to try and eliminate these from consciousness by whatever shows me they're unlearned, unpoetic, and even unromantic. If there's ladies reading this discussion page: enjoy your womanhood! And the use of "man" is the true inclusive, despite is masculine flavor; it developed into the dominant term (and has been all this time) for general-use and it wasn't imposed or ruled in order to exclude or dishonor you gals: and this historical information and knowledge, I think, needs to be made better well-known so as that we don't have such as ruckus: especially when it goes to the lunatic extremes where people (that's right...I just used "people") begin to change literature for "fairness": I don't want to be reading neutralized shakespeare Shakespeare, or any other work, destroyed for ideological ignorance; and why is it that we don't appreciate the benefit of the proper generic: it puts a great emphasis on our minds that men (males) and women (females) are not independent of one another...and, I suppose, embeds their love-affair in our consciences and enriches our poetry and literature. : ) Be linguistically and grammatically, and historically, informed: not re-interpretative and pulling these ideological propagandas out of opines on ambiguous "fairness" doctrines. Just a thought to pass-on to wikipedia and its editors...there's a lot there to appreciate, and I wish I could be more face-to-face on this as, well, it's much softer face to face rather than stating this all matter-of-factly: and I've found that women--even hardcore fem-Nazi types--have been very appreciative to hear a dude discuss all this with them apart from the politicization aspects of this language-wrestling junk. All the best.


09:30, 21 April 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheResearchPersona (talkcontribs)

common? widely used[edit]

if such terms are to be used, then there should be some figures to back them up, otherwise neutral terms should be used

note: the IP edits were mine while I was unable to log in - different PC/same LAN

it was not an attempt to get around 3RR or any similar devious trickery

Sennen goroshi (talk) 12:44, 22 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reliable Sources[edit]

Note, some of the sources used are self-published projects, whether or not on .edu addressed servers, and may violate WP:Reliable Sources.


11:51, 31 October 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by TheResearchPersona (talkcontribs)

I have to agree on this. I'm not sure if The Handbook of Non-Sexist Usage is neutral. Regardless, all of the citations seem to point to the book, and it's difficult to track down the studies mentioned in this article. It would help if direct citations to these studies could be added in addition. Martin Van Ballin' (talk) 04:51, 16 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

POV paragraph[edit]

The following paragraph appears near the top of the main text:

Specific proposals for language-reform, on the other hand, are subject to significant controversy, with attitudes ranging from a scorched-earth approach of remaking the language root and branch to a traditionalist attitude that cherishes the peculiarities of English. He who accepts the principle of linguistic relativity (by Benjamin Whorf and others) will tend toward politically correct language; he who rejects the principle will tend to see political correctness as illiterate and pedantically absurd.

This entire paragraph lacks citations. The use of 'He who accepts...' and 'he who rejects' in the final sentence appears to ignore the Manual of Style's guidance on gender-neutral language; but as the entire sentence is an unverifiable single point of view, it can probably be removed without injury to the general sense of the article. The first sentence is less obviously biased, but still lacks citations and should probably be removed. Unless someone can supply a reasonable counter-argument in the next few days, I'll probably be bold and remove it myself. AlexTiefling (talk) 17:39, 16 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's been three days. I'm going to be bold. AlexTiefling (talk) 13:09, 19 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

all these revisions and repairs later and the whole entire article still reads as a pov paragraph..this feels more like a speach to persuade or a rant from a forum discussion than an encypledia's inpartial infodump, even for the bits that do have sources. Some of the quotes as examples for instance have a very cherrypicked feel to them, many with better written more plausable and more clinical counterparts posted here in the talk page, written by people who used the words correctly in their professional life rather than random writers. See a post further down the page from an anthropology text for what I mean. I'm not sure how or what but this needs a major rewrite/cleanup. somebody should slap one of those bias tags on it and see who responds/if it can be helped. Honestly I'd feel better salveging the links citations and information scrapping the rest and doing a total rewrite. Not personally of course as you can see I'm not the best writer myself, but somebody. (talk) 22:54, 7 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Can we remove the neutrality dispute header now?[edit]

I have tried to re-work the article so that all claims have citations and nothing is repetitive. I've also tried to keep my own language neutral. How does it look? Anything still need fixing?

Ricardiana (talk) 07:49, 21 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think I'll be bold. Ricardiana (talk) 00:09, 23 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Aimed at minimizing the appearance of assumptions"[edit]

This seems an innocuous edit by Ironman, but I am going to remove it for two reasons:

  • It incorrectly states the aims of gender-neutral language.
  • It inserts a personal opinion about the motives / effectiveness of gender-neutral language.

This change is not wiki.Ricardiana (talk) 16:47, 24 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Last Names[edit]

Naming conventions (women taking their husband's name after marriage) is not about gender-neutral language; at least, not in the sense in which the rest of the article uses the term. Name-words are not thought of as inherently gendered in the way that "chairman" is. Even names like "Johnson" - technically it DOES have a gender connotation, but we don't usually think of names in this way. In any event, names like Johnson aren't discussed in this subsection! Just the IDEA of changing names.

Does the section belong in this article? - Rho —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:31, 8 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It does when the sources say so. Texts on gender-neutral language talk about this and relate it specifically to the issue of g-n language; see Spender, for example. The issue of specific last names hasn't come up specifically in relation to g-n language in the sources I have, but of course I may have missed something. Ricardiana (talk) 23:04, 8 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


According to Guidelines for Non-Sexist Use of Language: "Forms of address indicate attitudes about status and/or worth. Children often go by first names while calling adults by surname and title. Whenever males are referred to by title, use the appropriate title for female professionals (Ms., Dr., Professor), rather than their first names."

Is that really what's consider non-sexist? Calling males by female title? I don't think many men like being called "Ms.". (talk) 06:44, 2 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

They in singular[edit]

Currently, a discussion is made around "Mary saw everyone before John noticed them." as an example of how "they" is used a legitimate singular. This discussion, however, is of dubious applicability: The problem is that "everyone" is a grammatical singular, but a (often) a logical plural. From context, in the above example, "everyone" is a plural, and using a singular form would be awkward. (In contrast, "everyone needs to XXX" need not be a plural.) The discussion from POV of a quantifier also demonstrates that this is a very different case from a pure singular use, e.g. "My cousin is visiting, they have grown.", which is incongruent and confusing.

Correspondingly, this particular discussion does not provide a valid argument for use of "they" in a generic situation, but only in some special cases. (talk) 23:56, 4 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article suggests that it applies to any use of they before introducing the Pinker quote, but the quote only talks about using they in conjunction with everyone (and similar terms of plural/singular confusion). It does not at all seem to discuss sentences such as "Tell your child that they need to do their homework," which many grammarians would consider to be incorrect. Chris3145 (talk) 00:12, 12 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


So, "waiter" – unlike "waitress" – denotes a position of power and authority? I doubt that very much.—Dvd-junkie (talk) 01:50, 16 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. That line in particular seems rather ridiculous. (talk)

I added a 'citation needed' tag. If there aren't any objections, I'll remove the offending sentence. En-AU Speaker (T) (C) (E) 01:11, 3 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, waiter implies greater power than does waitress, and wait staff is neutral. One consequence of the power differential is that waiters (men) are more likely to be assigned to higher-tipping tables while lower-tipping counters are served by waitresses, adding to pay discrimination by gender. Nick Levinson (talk) 17:01, 10 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

notice of possible conflict of interest re Talking About People[edit]

I'm planning to cite Talking About People: A Guide to Fair and Accurate Language (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1997), by Rosalie Maggio, in the References. After reading a prior dictionary of hers, I sent her some suggestions and, in the new dictionary, two hundred entries, perhaps coincidentally, were changed consistently with my suggestions and credit was given. I was and am, however, not paid for what I did; I returned a payment that was proffered afterwards (and I did not negotiate the check) and there had been no prior negotiation for it. There is thus no conflict of interest in adding the dictionary information to Wikipedia.

If you disagree, please reply.

Thank you. Nick Levinson (talk) 17:10, 10 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

spinster and bachelor are not a "word pairing"[edit]

I basically removed the sentence...

Word-pairings such as "bachelor" and "spinster" have different connotations, despite their technical denotations; "spinster" has much more negative connotations than "bachelor".[1]

Spinster and bachelor by definition do have different connotations refer... wikt: Spinster wikt: bachelor

Since the two words do not have the same meaning the argument is not justified, in this case. Dave3457 (talk) 23:49, 14 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Indeed. The male equivalent of "spinster" is something like "perpetual bachelor". If the term needs a modifier to make it synonymous, it's a mistake to call it a synonym. Elmo iscariot (talk) 12:49, 28 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Spender (1980), 17, 23.

The article references "churchyard"[edit]

I can not find any information on this "churchyard." Unless someone can clarify a bit, I say this is probably unreferenced material and should be removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:33, 1 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Words for Humans[edit]

I have seen the phrase "childbirth in man" in anthropological books (the comparison being to childbirth in apes). The quote from Miller & Swift seems a little contrived. Furthermore I would suggest the Jefferson (who was no mean scholar) would have been using the word quite precisely in its common gender sense, reflecting 18thC usage rather than 21stC. Even so, the argument is internally inconsistent; unless women were excused all obedience to law, they must have been included in "the governed". Finaly, one must also be careful to distinguish between a 20thC belief that women were explicitly denied the vote and an earlier assumption that the (usually male) head of the family represented the whole family. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 13:23, 29 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I only skim-read the article but it seemed not to be immediately obvious who is propagating this movement. Shouldn't that be one of the most prominent facts included? Mnealon (talk) 03:22, 11 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

--the box was too small. full text of reason for removal so as not to be accused of vandalism and reverted:

first: the article is clearly clearly written with a strong bias, it doesn't even come close to approaching wikipedia's neutrality standards. but contextually far more importantly the removed example made zero sense. For one thing the example used is actually for the opposite argument than the article used it for... "Mary saw everyone before John noticed them" quite strongly and concisely shows how ridiculously ambiguous that use of them is. That sentence the article claims is correct is very poorly structured to the point of uselessness. Who didn't john notice? Was it Mary? Was it everyone? Secondly there is a reason the writer smugly feels the correction is flawed, it is, the argument its a part of is! Is Mary an androgonous name? Technically yes but far and away its a girl's name as the writer reinforces. So it would seem obvious "Mary saw everyone before John noticed her" clearly appears to be correct(because the writer clearly feels him is obviously wrong and therefore mary is meant to be female). this in fact isn't a generic use of he/him at all so wtf lol. its talking about one specific person, has a name and everything. So clarify is the name supposed to be vauge and gender neutral? If so then the writer's scored point makes no sense whatsoever. if not then the writer incorrectly understands the use of gender neutral pronouns. Note that if intended to be androgonous Jessie is a better name to choose statistically.

Removed dead link[edit]

I took away the dead link * New Feminist. "Against 'Against the Theory of Sexist Language.'" (talk) 18:55, 14 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I also replaced the dead link by This is not the complete writing, but are some excerpts. We could also just skip the link. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rachel148 (talkcontribs) 19:14, 14 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Word Gay Not Part Of Gender Neutrality[edit]

It is the 21st Century and finally speakers of English are coming to terms with this concept. Prior to this century, the word gay was regularly misappropriated in a semantic power play by speakers who sought to obtain for themselves some of the greater attention that male homosexuals normally receive given the qualitative difference of the gay experience. (talk) 17:21, 9 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Feminist Language Reform[edit]

There currently is not a page for feminist language reform, so I am thinking of adding one. I thought some users on this page might be interested. Similar topics or terminology could include Feminist Philosophy of Language. This topic can also incorporate efforts at feminist or gender inclusion in languages other than English, including resistance to feminist reforms in translation.

Here are some sources that I found that might be helpful:

Bengoechea, M. (2014). Feminist translation? No way! Spanish specialised translators' disinterest in feminist translation. Women’s Studies International Forum, 42, 94-103.

Cameron, D. (1993). Is There and Anglo-American Feminist Linguistics? Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 12(2), 223-27.

Cameron, D. (1999). Feminist linguistics: A response to Bent Preisler's Review Article: Deconstructing 'feminist linguistics'. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 3(1), 121-25.

Canning, K. (1994). Feminist History after the Linguistic Turn: Historicizing Discourse and Experience. Signs, 19(2), 368-404.

Castro, O. (2013). Talking at cross-purposes? The missing link between feminist linguistics and translation studies. Gender & Language, 7(1), 35-58.

Descarries, F. (2014). Language is Not Neutral: The Construction of Knowledge in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 39(3), 564-69.

Ergün, E. (2013). Feminist translation and feminist sociolinguistics in dialogue: A multilayered analysis of linguistic gender constructions in and across English and Turkish. Gender & Language, 7(1), 13-33.

Lipovsky, C. (2014). Gender-specification and occupational nouns: has linguistic change occurred in job advertisements since the French feminisation reforms? Gender & Language 8(3), 361-92.

Milles, K. (2011). Snippa: A success story of feminist language planning. Gender & Language, 5(1), 89-109.

Moi, T. (2015). Thinking Through Examples: What Ordinary Language Philosophy Can Do For Feminist Theory. New Literary History 46(2), 191-216.

Pauwels, A. (1999). Feminist Language Planning: Has it been worthwhile? Linguistik Online 2, (no pagination).

Dmaldonado08 (talk) 02:09, 11 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See Feminist language reform. --Boson (talk) 12:35, 16 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Automatic archiving[edit]

Any objections to switching on automatic archiving (e.g. after thread dormant for 90 days)? --Boson (talk) 17:44, 16 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Harvard references[edit]

Citations need to be made more specific and the style is inconsistent. Any objections to introducing use of {{sfn}}?--Boson (talk) 17:46, 16 May 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

References removed[edit]

These publications were listed in the references but were not used in the article, so I moved them here. I did not add them to 'external links' because I am not knowledgeable about this field and don't know if they would be good external links (and there are already quite a few links there).

  • Bodine, Ann (1998). Cameron, Deborah (ed.). "Androcentrism in Prescriptive Grammar" in The Feminist Critique of Language. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16400-1.
  • Bojarska, Katarzyna (2011). "Wpływ androcentrycznych i inkluzywnych płciowo konstrukcji językowych na skojarzenia z płcią". Studia Psychologiczne. 49 (2): 53–68. doi:10.2478/v10167-011-0010-y.
  • Bojarska, Katarzyna (2012). "Responding to lexical stimuli with gender associations: A Cognitive–Cultural Model". Journal of Language and Social Psychology. 32: 46. doi:10.1177/0261927X12463008.
  • Maggio, Rosalie, Talking About People: A Guide to Fair and Accurate Language (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1997) (English glossary or dictionary with annotations).
  • Mankowski, Paul (1998). "Jesus, Son of Humankind? The Necessary Failure of Inclusive-Language Translations". Retrieved 14 April 2009.
  • Parks, Janet B; Mary Ann Robertson (September 2008). "Generation Gaps in Attitudes Toward Sexist/Nonsexist Language". Journal of Language & Social Psychology. 27 (3): 276–283. doi:10.1177/0261927X08317956. ISSN 0261-927X.
  • Unger, Rhoda K (2004). Handbook of the Psychology of Women and Gender. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-65357-8.

Leschnei (talk) 19:59, 16 July 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Gender neutrality in English. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

This message was posted before February 2018. After February 2018, "External links modified" talk page sections are no longer generated or monitored by InternetArchiveBot. No special action is required regarding these talk page notices, other than regular verification using the archive tool instructions below. Editors have permission to delete these "External links modified" talk page sections if they want to de-clutter talk pages, but see the RfC before doing mass systematic removals. This message is updated dynamically through the template {{source check}} (last update: 18 January 2022).

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 23:51, 8 January 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"In Old English, the word wer referred to males only and wif to females only, while man referred to both"[edit]

In Old English, the most common spelling was actually mann (also monn, but that's a separate issue). Man was either a variant spelling, or didn't represent the noun at all, but rather a special impersonal/indefinite pronoun (meaning "one" or indeterminate "they" as the subject of a sentence, quite similar to Modern German -- "Man spricht Deutsch" etc.). AnonMoos (talk) 18:45, 27 October 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New edits[edit]

Nothing is POV or disputable. I'm reverting. --2604:2000:E84A:8200:3D04:14DA:2C46:8EAF (talk) 02:51, 11 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please stop adding unsourced material and removing relevant, sourced material from the article. —Granger (talk · contribs) 13:38, 11 October 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article gives wrong information[edit]

Why do I make the statement in the title? Look at this sentence from the article:"Smilarly, although it is not normally ambiguous, the word mankind may be replaced by humankind or humanity." Yet, the word "mankind" itself is ambiguous because it has the word "man" within itself, not the word "woman" or "child". And the word "humanity" is not ambiguous either, as the central syllable is the word "man", so we're facing the same issue here.--Fandelasketchup (talk) 15:26, 10 February 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Das Mädchen[edit]

"Das Mädchen" might be a quite bad example for german, since its basic word is "Maid" which is feminin indeed. The only reason why "Mädchen" is neutral because it is a belittlement, which is always neutral in german. -- Preceding unsigned comment added by Alzeha (talk o contribs) 11:03, 18 May 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The standard term is "diminutive"... AnonMoos (talk) 08:25, 6 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Non-nouns can be sexist, too[edit]

Like manufacture, the and human. There is no *womanufacture, *tshe and *huwoman. In addition, the last examples are nouns that don’t look sexist at first glance. —Mewtwo (talkcontribs) 18:56, 13 June 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Pinker's incomplete analysis[edit]

The logical point that you, Holden Caulfield, and everyone but the language mavens intuitively grasp is that everyone and they are not an "antecedent" and a "pronoun" referring to the same person in the world, which would force them to agree in number. They are a "quantifier" and a "bound variable", a different logical relationship. Everyone returned to their seats means "For all X, X returned to X's seat." The "X" does not refer to any particular person or group of people; it is simply a placeholder that keeps track of the roles that players play across different relationships. In this case, the X that comes back to a seat is the same X that owns the seat that X comes back to. The their there does not, in fact, have plural number, because it refers neither to one thing nor to many things; it does not refer at all.

Consider: A person walks into a bar full of rowdy drinkers, and discovers that they don't get along.

Who doesn't get along?

  • A person walks into a crowded bar and discovers that they don't get along with them.
  • A person walks into a crowded bar and discovers that he or she doesn't get along with them.
  • A person walks into a bar and discovers that they don't get along with the rowdy drinkers. — barely permissible to my ear
  • A person walks into a bar full of rowdies and discovers that they don't get along with themselves.
  • A person walks into a bar full of rowdies and discovers that they can't trust theirself not to initiate a meaningless tussle. — holy contortion, Batman
  • A person walks into a bar full of rowdies and discovers that they don't get along with the rowdies. — here Wiley Coyote pulls out his small and doomed "help" sign

In summary, in common English usage one can't blithely use "they" in quantifier mode without the construction sometimes becoming awkward as hell, necessitating a recast of the entire sentence if you don't want to sound like an blithering idiot. I agree with Pinker than there are constructs where the singular "they" is permissible without much pushback, but I'm nowhere close to regarding singular "they" as entirely harmless.

I've read quite a bit of Pinker on usage, and he pulls this strawperson trick fairly regularly: just because you can shoot a language zealot down, doesn't mean that no serious problems remain for a less zealous person to come along and legitimately point out. (At the same time, concerning his controversial book, Enlightenment Now, I'm entirely on his side of this argument.)

It doesn't much help matters on the ground to analyzed words formerly-considered-to-be-pronouns-only as also being quantifiers if the ear can't keep up with this distinction in real time, while coping with natural speech patterns. To whit, if you're pitching a script, you're going pick guy or gal and say "this guy walks into a bar, and he discovers he doesn't get along with the rowdies" whether you've settled on a gender for guy/gal already or not, because pronoun "they" is already taken by the rowdies, and thus "they" is unavailable for non-pronoun quantification duty in the same context without sounding awkward or forced, and you do want to sell your script don't you, or are you willing to die on the gender neutral hill because Pinker said you shouldn't worry your pretty little head?

This article needs to be careful not to implicitly oversell Pinker's useful analysis merely because Pinker himself sometimes likes to cop that tone. — MaxEnt 00:22, 16 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Indo-European Language[edit]

Article implies English is a Indo-European language. English is a Germanic language — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

English is an Indo-European language. The Germanic languages are a branch of Indo-European. —Mx. Granger (talk · contribs) 14:59, 1 September 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Request To Remove; Steven Pinker[edit]

I suggest the removal of the quote by Steven Pinker under the subheading "Pronouns." I believe the sub-topic would read sufficiently if the space given to the rebuttal stopped at "Linguist Steven Pinker goes further and argues that traditional grammar proscriptions regarding the use of singular "they" are themselves incorrect," rather than continuing with a prolonged citation from someone who is increasingly partisan, and likely prejudiced. [1] The paragraph correctly states that the use of singular 'they' is a common one with a vast history; yet a significant portion of the subheading is dedicated to a quote from someone that has significant motivation to depreciate the value of the term- specifically transphobia, of which he has a clear history. The inclusion of this inordinately lengthy quote implies him as a relevant and helpful authority on this topic, but the position stated is largely pedantic [2] and is- referring to his politics- severely biased. The description thereby omits the extreme commonality and recent politicization of the term, giving precedence to Pinker, whose ultimate goal is to force the term into obsolescence for political gain. He commonly uses a hypocritical form of prescriptivism to claim impartiality, while simultaneously using it to defend ill-informed positions. [3] Flipambedo (talk) 06:43, 20 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This isn't making sense to me. He's defending the term, but it's being claimed he's against it secretly or something. This seems to be irrelevant. Crossroads -talk- 03:12, 21 October 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]