Should UCF adopt gender-neutral pronouns?
The use of gender-specific pronouns is something not only found in the English language, but in pretty much every language on Earth. “He,” “she,” “her,” “him;” these are all words meant to identify one with a specific gender — gender being an individual role, as opposed to one’s sex.
Boston University, Harvard University, University of Tennessee and Columbia University are now using what are known as gender-neutral pronouns: ze, xe, xyr, sie. The universities have begun encouraging the use of these words, but they are yet to be enforced policies; their use is optional.
The question now enters: Should UCF begin using these words?
In more recent years, grammatical correctness has taken a hit in favor of political correctness. Instead of saying he or she, many say “they.” “They” refers to plural, yet plurality has found its way onto the dictionary specification of an individual using it in fear of offense from not knowing whom they are addressing. In that case, gender-neutral pronouns might be useful.
But to take another stance on the topic, who wants to use a gender-neutral pronoun?
For centuries, the English language has specified the subject of a sentence — usually with either “he” or “she.” Thus, the change of such an important and widely used word that is nearly vital to one’s identification of a subject — with the exclusion of calling a living thing “it” — seems fairly obstructive.
A word should be created and subsequently used because it serves some purpose in either concisely identifying something or someone or because it improves general speech and writing. Now, it should come as no surprise that the encouragement of these words is coming from the diversity and pride committees at these schools. Thus, the encouragement of these non-classifying words spawns from the desire to “include” everyone.
But beyond the various classifications within a person’s gender or sexuality, these words may still be beneficial. As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of a word into any language should be for the betterment of syntax or grammar.
That being said, every language on the face of the Earth is a product of the society from which it was born. In English, human beings derived the word “fire” because the combustion of materials or fuels needed some sort of specific identification.
In every society there exists the genders of male and female. What constitutes these genders is beyond this discussion, however, they are categorizations.
So, before changing the language of a society to identify either some great unknown, or a transgender who can’t decide whether he or she likes being called “Sally” or “Rick,” the subject that such a word is identifying must first be specified. Until then, the only use for these gender-specific roles would be to identify an unknown subject that doesn’t conform to “he,” “she” or “it.”
However, UCF’s administration should take it upon itself to create a bit of a flurry in the wake of a rather intrusive inclusion into the English language.
Daniel Ceruti is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.