7 Things You Didn't Know About The History Of Pronouns And Gender

7 Things You Didn't Know About The History Of Pronouns And Gender

Sorry, Conservatives: Gender-Neutral Pronouns Are 800 Years Old

Many have argued that the introduction of a singular nonbinary pronoun they is the invention of millennial special snowflakes. I have bad news for those people. The singular gender-nonspecific they has been around since the 13th century, and it was only as recently as the 1850s that it began, at the bidding of academics, to disappear.

1. Languages across the world acknowledge different genders for referring to people and objects.

The Niger-Congo language acknowledges 7- 10 genders.

While Indo-European languages classify words as masculine, feminine, and neuter, some Basque and Algonquin languages only differentiate animate and inanimate.

Out of 257 classified languages, 112 of them have some system of grammatical gender. That's 43% of those classified (there are more than 6,000 languages total).

2. In theory, gendered pronouns exist for grammatical efficiency.

Gendered pronouns sometimes help differentiate between speakers or objects in a sentence. But do we need gendered pronouns to do so? Linguist Gretchen McCulloch says no:

Algonquian languages actually have a particularly effective solution to this problem which doesn’t involve gender. Instead, they have two gender-nonspecific third-singular markers: one for whichever person is more central to the conversation, and the other for additional people that don’t matter as much, a system known as obviation.

3. English's root languages did not use our modern gendered system.

Historical linguists believe that Proto-Indo-European originally had two genders: animate and inanimate, but that this changed after the Hittite branch split off.

4. English is unusual in the way it genders words.

English doesn't gender every word grammatically beyond the meaning of nouns, but we are weird in one respect: we do lack a grammatical gender system. Gretchen McCulloch again:

It is quite weird cross-linguistically to lack a grammatical gender system and yet still encode natural gender on one tiny set of grammaticalized words, aka your pronouns.

5. Gender-neutral first-person pronouns have been around since the 13th century.

Singular "they" has been used since the 13th century. When Middle English evolved to stop using syntactical grammar, use of the plural third-person pronoun they was extended to the singular. You can see this in Chaucer, Caxton, and Shakespeare. It's not that revolutionary to use a plural pronoun for singular meaning after all, when you consider that the originally plural pronoun you evolved to extend to a singular you, replacing the now-extinct thou.

6. Gender-nonspecific use of 'he' was proposed by academics in the 1850s.

In the late 18th century, grammarians began insisting upon using he as a gender nonspecific pronoun rather than they, which was once again, they decided, relegated to the plural. This was met with pushback.

7. Alternative pronouns have been around since the 1850s.

Relegating "they" to the plural and replacing it with "he" obviously has patriarchal implications, and it was met with pushback by language reformers and gender activists alike. Many people, including nonbinary groups and academics, disagreed with the removal of a gender-neutral pronoun, and have been fighting back against it since the 1850s. These groups have introduced alternatives aiming to solve the problem for over 150 years, some of which never made it past the 1850s, such as heesh, or bun, bunself, while others have survived to be used by some groups that still exist today, such as xe, xir, xim, and ey, eir, em, but the most common surviving singular gender-neutral pronoun is the increasingly recognized they.

Cover Image Credit: Deviant Art

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Being Able To Read Comic Books And See Myself In Them Is Even Better

Superheroes aren't just white, able bodied, straight men anymore.


When the word "superhero" comes into most people's minds, we've traditionally pictured a white, able-bodied man in a spandex costume, saving his city. That norm is quickly changing and here are some examples of that change.

1. The increase of superheroes of color

While their movie counterparts are still dominated by white people, comic books have become more and more racially diverse. There has been a small percentage of POC superheroes for quote sometime now, but comic book makers are coming out with a whole slew of new characters who are racially diverse. As a Filipina, I was over the moon when I heard about Marvels newest superhero, Wave. There are almost no Filipino superheroes in mainstream comic books, so I hope that Wave will eventually make her way to the MCU!

2. Disabled superheroes exist

This isn't a well-known fact, but some of your favorite superheroes are disabled. There are superheroes who are blind, paralyzed, deaf, have learning disabilities, etc., but it doesn't stop them from fighting the bad guys! A good number of disabled superheroes rely on their disabilities as their superpower or to increase their abilities. I think that it's important to show that being a superhero isn't just something that is exclusive to able-bodied people.

3. Move over princesses, little girls are now looking up to superheroes

I'm not saying princesses are being abandoned entirely, but I've seen more little girls running around the toy section of Target, waving around action figures and superhero masks. I'm kind of jealous because I certainly didn't get to do that when I was their age. With the increase of women in crime-fighting roles, it's easy to see why a younger generation of girls is becoming more interested in superheroes. It's empowering to see that these female characters can be confident leaders with the ability to defend themselves from danger, not waiting for a guy to save them.

4. The new age of superheroes is LGBTQA+ and proud!

Alongside the rise of new POC superheroes also comes the rise in openly queer superheroes. There has been a history of queer superheroes, but almost none of them are mainstream or their queer identity is not widely known. Many younger superheroes are being written as queer and maybe it's a reflection of how younger generations are more open about their sexuality?

I think that this increase in diversity across all matters is something that our society needs and has needed for a long time. Being able to see a strong character who also shares a similar background to you is inspiring and is a reminder that you can be just as strong and confident as your favorite superhero!

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