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(Iel pronouns are not used in English so it does not make sense to include them in this article, this can be discussed on the talk page.)
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* Predicative possessive: Faers (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow ''faers''.)
 
* Predicative possessive: Faers (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow ''faers''.)
 
* Reflexive: Faerself (Fae has to drive ''faerself ''to school.)
 
* Reflexive: Faerself (Fae has to drive ''faerself ''to school.)
 
=== Iel ===
 
Iel was first used by French Canadians and was mentioned in a CBC article from January 2019. after the article was published some English Canadians also began using iel pronouns
 
 
Examples:
 
* Nominative: Iel (''Ie''l went to the store.)
 
* Accusative: Iel (I met ''iel'' today.)
 
* Pronominal possessive: Iel's (If ''iel'' does not get a haircut, ''iel's ''hair grows long.)
 
* Predicative possessive: Iel's (If I need a phone my friends will let me borrow ''iel's''.)
 
* Reflexive: Ielself (''Iel'' has to drive ''ielself'' to school.)
 
   
 
== Other Non-Standard Pronouns ==
 
== Other Non-Standard Pronouns ==

Revision as of 23:43, 20 July 2020

A neopronoun user flag by ferns-garden.

Neopronouns are any set of single third person pronouns that are created with the intent of being a gender neutral pronoun set. These pronouns are, for the most part, not officially recognized in the language. In English, and many other languages, people are usually called by a pronoun that implies their gender. In English, "she" is most often used by women, and "he" most often used by men, singular "they" can be used by non-binary people. However that is not always the case, some non-binary people are okay with being referred to with she/her or he/him pronouns, and some binary people use "unexpected" pronouns.

Surveys show that they/them is the most popular neutral pronoun set used by non-binary people, however some prefer to use neopronouns, as an alternate gender neutral pronoun set.

The neopronoun user flag by AkoiFish.

Regional Nominative Pronouns

Some regional dialects of English throughout history have/had gender neutral pronouns that aren't used in standard English. All of these pronouns have only been recorded in their nominative form. As far as linguists know there are no other forms of these words (possessive, reflexive, etc), although it's easy to make up more forms if desired.

These pronouns do not strictly fit the definition of neopronouns as they developed naturally in the language and, as far as we know, were not created by a single person with the goal of creating a gender neutral pronoun.

A (Nominative Only)

In 1789, William H. Marshall documented the use of "a", used by the 14th century English writer John of Trevisa. Both the OED and Wright's English Dialect Dictionary confirm the use of "a" in the place of he, she, it, they, and even I. This "a" is a reduced form of the Anglo-Saxon word he meaning ‘he’ and heo meaning ‘she’.[1] Some living British dialects still use the gender-neutral "a" pronoun.[2]

Ou (Nominative Only)

Ou was first recorded in a native English dialect the sixteenth century. In 1789, William H. Marshall records the existence of a dialectal English epicene pronoun, singular ou: '"Ou will" expresses either he will, she will, or it will.' Marshall traces "ou" as possibly deriving from Middle English "a".

Yo (Nominative Only)

In addition to an interjection and greeting, "yo" is a gender-neutral pronoun in a dialect of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) spoken by middle school students in Baltimore, Maryland, the student body of which is 97% African-American. These students had spontaneously created the pronoun as early as 2004, and commonly used it. A study by Stotko and Troyer in 2007 examined this pronoun. The speakers used "yo" only for same-age peers, not adults or authorities. The speakers thought of it as a slang word that was informal, but they also thought if it as just as acceptable as he or she. "Yo" was used for people whose gender was unknown, as well as for specific people whose gender was known, often while using a pointing gesture at the person in question. The researchers only collected examples of "yo" used in the nominative form. That is, they found no possessive forms such as "yo's" and no reflexive forms such as "yoself".[3]

List of Neopronouns

There have been many instances of people creating new pronouns to refer to a singular gender neutral person over the past 200 years. Particularly, several neopronouns showed up in the mid-late 20th century. Many new neopronouns were created in the age of the internet, as the existence of non-binary people becomes more widely known. This page attempts to listen some of the most notable and most popular neopronouns. Pronouns are listed in order of oldest to newest.

Thon

One of the first known instances of someone purposely creating a new gender neutral pronoun set in English is that of American composer Charles Crozat Converse who proposed the pronoun set thon/thons/thonself in 1858[4]. It was based on a contraction of "that one". The "thon" pronoun was included in some dictionaries such as Webster's International Dictionary (1910), and Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary (1913), and Webster's Second International (1959). The pronouns are not widely used in the present day. In the 2019 Gender Census, 18 (0.2%) people said that they were happy to be referred to using "thon" pronouns[5].

Examples:

  • Nominative: Thon (Thon went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Thon (I met thon today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Thons (If thon does not get a haircut, thons hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Thon's (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow thon's.)
  • Reflexive: Thonself (Thon has to drive thonself to school.)

E

There are several very similar sets of pronouns with the nominative form of "E" which have been independently proposed over the last hundred years. The earliest known example may be created in 1890 by James Rogers of Crestview, Florida[6][7]. It was made in response to the "thon" set, and was derived from the "he" and "them" pronoun sets. This version does not have a recorded predictive possessive or reflexive form.

In 1977, a version where all forms starts with capital letters was independently created by psychologist Donald G. MacKay of the University of California at Los Angeles. In 1989 an identical version it was independently created by Victor J. Stone, Professor of Law.

Examples:

  • Nominative: E (E went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Em (I met em today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Es (If e does not get a haircut, es hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Ems (If I need a phone my friends will let me borrow ems.)
  • Reflexive: Emself (E has to drive emself to school.)

Ae

In his 1920 novel A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay invented the "ae" pronoun set for an alien race, which were born from air and of a third sex. These pronouns are still somewhat well known on the internet.

Examples:

  • Nominative: Ae (Ae went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Aer (I met aer today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Aer (If ae does not get a haircut, aer hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Aers (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow aers.)
  • Reflexive: Aerself (Ae has to drive aerself to school.)

Co

Co was created by Mary Orovan in 1970. It is derived from the Indo-European *ko, as an inclusive alternative to he or she.[8] Today, "co" is still used in some communities, such as in the legal policies of Twin Oaks in Virginia, which provides information on the pronoun in its visitor guide web page[9].

Examples:

  • Nominative: Co (Co went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Co (I met co today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Cos or Co's (If co does not get a haircut, cos hair grows long. OR: co's hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Co's (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow co's.)
  • Reflexive: Coself (Co has to drive coself to school.)

Ve

Ve pronouns were created sometime in the early 1970s. It's unclear who originally invented this pronoun set or when, and it's possible that multiple people created it independently. The most well know usage of ve pronouns comes from Greg Egan, who used them in his books Distress (1995) and Diaspora (1998)[10]. Egan is sometimes credited with having created these pronouns, but this doesn't appear to be the case and he has never claimed to do so. An earlier example is in the novel The Bone People (1984) by Keri Hulme[11]. The earliest known example of ve pronouns comes from the 1970 May issue of Everywoman[12]. This set is nearly-identical but is incomplete. It included ve/vir/vis, (predicative possessive and reflexive not recorded).

  • Nominative: Ve (Ve went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Ver or Vir (I met ver today. OR: I met vir today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Vis (If ve does not get a haircut, vis hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Vers or Virs (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow vers. OR: borrow virs.)
  • Reflexive: Verself or Virself (Ve has to drive verself to school. OR: Ve has to drive virself to school.)

Xe

This pronoun set appears to be first coined by Don Rickter in an issue of Unitarian Universalist publication in May 1973. This coining is affirmed by Mario Pei, who gave Rickter credit in his 1978 book Weasel Words[13]. This set has a large amount of variations.

Examples:

  • Nominative: Xe (Xe went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Xem (I met xem today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Xyr (If xe does not get a haircut, xyr hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Xyrs (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow xyrs.)
  • Reflexive: Xyrself (Xe has to drive xyrself to school.)

Alternatives Include:

  • Nominative: Xhe
  • Accusative: Xer
  • Pronominal possessive: Xir, xis, xer, or xeir
  • Predicative possessive: Xirs, xis, xers, or xeirs
  • Reflexive: Xirself, xemself, or xerself

Per

Known as "person pronouns," these are meant to be used for a person of any gender. John Clark created person pronouns in a 1972 issue of the Newsletter of the American Anthropological Association[6]. These pronouns were notably used in the 1976 novel Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

Examples:

  • Nominative: Per or Person (Per went to the store. OR: Person went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Per (I met per today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Per (If per does not get a haircut, per hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Pers (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow pers.)
  • Reflexive: Perself (Per has to drive perself to school.)

Ey (Elverson Pronouns)

The Elverson pronouns were created by Christine M. Elverson of Skokie, Illinois to win a contest in 1975. They were formed by dropping the first two letters from they/them/their pronouns.

It's unclear what sort of lexical agreement these pronouns would take. The pronouns can only be used as singular pronouns, so they could presumably be conjugated the same way as other singular pronoun sets: (ie: "Ey was eating.") However, since these pronouns were based off the they/them set it may feel more natural for English speakers to say "Ey were eating." It's unclear which conjugation was intended, so either can be used. The same problem faces most other neopronouns based on "e" or "ey".

Examples:

  • Nominative: Ey (Ey went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Em (I met em today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Eir (If ey does not get a haircut, eir hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Eirs (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow eirs.)
  • Reflexive: Emself (Ey has to drive emself to school.)

Hu

Also known as "humanist pronouns", this set was created by Sasha Newborn in 1982, in a college humanities text. They are obviously based on the word “human”.[14] This could be considered the first instance of nounself pronouns.

Examples:

  • Nominative: Hu (Hu went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Hum (I met hum today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Hus (If hu does not get a haircut, hus hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Hus (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow hus.)
  • Reflexive: Huself (Hu has to drive huself to school.)

E (Spivak Pronouns)

Spivak pronouns, were created in 1990 by Michael Spivak. They were used in his manual, The Joy of TeX, so that no person in his examples had a specified gender. The pronouns became somewhat well-known on the internet because they were built into the popular multi-user chat LambdaMOO in 1991. The pronouns then became a common feature of other multi-user chats made throughout the 1990s. In the 2019 Gender Census, 5.2% of participants were happy for people to use Spivak pronouns when being referred to[5]. Spivak is credited with creating this set of pronouns, although his book does not claim that they are his own invention. It's not known if Spivak was inspired by the other "E" pronouns that have existed or by the similar Elverson pronouns.

Examples:

  • Nominative: E (E went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Em (I met em today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Eir (If e does not get a haircut, eir hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Eirs (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow eirs.)
  • Reflexive: Emself (E has to drive emself to school.)

Ze

Similar to "xe" pronouns their are several different versions of this pronoun set. "Ze" is also pronounced the same way as "xe". It was likely based on the German plural 3rd person pronoun "sie". The first known case of "ze" being used is in 1997, by Richard Creel, who proposed ze/zer/mer (reflexive form is not recorded).

Another version was possibly independently created by Kate Bornstein in the 1998 book My Gender Workbook. This version uses ze (sometimes zie or sie)/hir. The most popular variation of these pronouns are based on this version and were created in 2013.

Examples:

  • Nominative: Ze (Ze went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Zir (I met zir today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Zir (If ze does not get a haircut, zir hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Zirs (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow zirs.)
  • Reflexive: Zirself (Xe has to drive zirself to school.)

Fae

Fae is a fairy themed set of neopronouns created by Tumblr user shadaras in 2014, though it might have been created independently by someone else earlier. It is one of the most commonly used nounself pronoun set. As is likely what inspired the trend of nounself pronouns on the internet set moving forward.

A similar fairy themed pronoun set exists that is fey/fey/feys/feys/feyself. This might have been created independently or it may be an alternate spelling of this system.

Examples:

  • Nominative: Fae (Fae went to the store.)
  • Accusative: Faer (I met faer today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Faer (If fae does not get a haircut, faer hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Faers (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow faers.)
  • Reflexive: Faerself (Fae has to drive faerself to school.)

Other Non-Standard Pronouns

These pronouns may or may not strictly fall into the category of neopronouns, but do not fall within the standard usage of pronouns in English.

It

"It" is the pronoun for inanimate objects in English, though some non-binary people choose to use this as a non-gendered pronoun. Using "it" to refer to a non-binary person is offensive unless one is specifically told to use that pronoun.

Examples:

  • Nominative: It (It went to the store.)
  • Accusative: It (I met it today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Its (If it does not get a haircut, its hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: Its (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow its.)
  • Reflexive: Itself (It has to drive itself to school.)

One

"One" is a gender neutral pronoun for a generic person in English. It is typically used in formal speech when talking about people in general or a hypothetical person. Some people use "one" as an singular alternative to "they" pronouns.

Examples:

  • Nominative: One (One went to the store)
  • Accusative: One (I met one today.)
  • Pronominal possessive: Ones (If one does not get a haricut, ones hair grows long.)
  • Predicative possessive: One's (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow one's.)
  • Reflexive: Oneself (One has to drive oneself to school.)

Alternating Pronouns

Instead of using an alternative or gender neutral pronoun set, some people prefer an alternation between the binary-gendered sets. For example: "When he does not get a haircut, her hair grows long." Alternating pronouns are used in some legal documents to make them gender inclusive.

De

De/dem is a Norwegian set of gender neutral pronouns sometimes used in other language as neopronouns. 

Examples:

  •  Nominative: De (De went to the store.)
  •  Accusative: Dem (I met dem today.)
  •  Pronominal possessive: Der (If de not does get a haircut, der hair grows long.)
  •  Predicative possessive: Ders (If I need a phone my friend will let me borrow ders.)
  •  Reflexive: Demself (De has to drive demself to school.)

No Pronouns/Pronoun Dropping

Also called non-pronouns, null pronouns, or pronounless. Some non-binary people prefer not to be referred to by pronouns of any kind. Instead of using pronouns, a person can be referred to by name, an epithet, or the sentence can be rephrased to omit pronouns, typically by using the passive voice.

Nounself Pronouns

Nounself pronouns can be made by adapting any noun into a pronoun. The pronouns can be themed around concepts that have nothing to do with gender.

Flag

The purple neopronoun flag was designed by‎ AkoiFish on April 25, 2020 on the LGBTA+ Wikia. The meaning is unknown.

The green and orange neopronoun flag was designed by Tumblr user Ferns-Garden/Beanjamoose on or before Jul 1, 2019. The flag is used by the blog yourfave-uses-neopronouns[15]. The color meanings are as follows: Green is for masculine-identifying people who use neopronouns. Blue is for older pronoun sets and the history behind them. White is for non-binary identifying people who use neopronouns. Yellow is for newer pronoun sets and the happiness that comes from them. Orange is for feminine-identifying people who use neopronouns.

Resources

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