They Shall See God
Praying for Love

What Is Your Pronoun?



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Dr. McElfresh wore a plaid, flannel shirt with a neck tie and a sport coat, and carried his Marlboro cigarettes in a Band-Aid can in his short pocket. He taught Greek and classical languages at Virginia Tech in the 70s and he was one of my most colorful professors there. When I inquired about a matter related to koine Greek, his answer was always the same, "The Greeks spoke Greek."

His other memorable quote, imprinted on my mind, was he had stopped trying to address letters to "Dear Sir or Madam" for fear of being offensive. He had simply moved to the greeting, "Good Creatures."

Some would say, he was far ahead of his time or far behind.

I have a been thinking about the awkward us of the pronoun “they” as a singular form of the personal pronoun.

At first my reaction was, “It's plural. It's poor English form. I don't like it.”

I am a grammar traditionalist. However, after reflecting, I will say that I've been living in a state of confusion as a writer and a speaker for several years regarding the correct gender pronouns.

Just because online and by name, you may not be able to tell if a person is male, female, or binary. And we have the issue of now even more complications on being able to discern which pronoun is appropriate.

Not everyone includes their, pronoun preferences in all communication channels. So, I wonder if a lot of this dissonance is about confusion. I am no stranger to confusion. Maybe I should welcome the pronouns, “they,” “their,” and “them” as a standard for everyone.

Indeed, it is showing up in some of the new business correspondence of today.

One thing we know about the English language is that it changes. Rules and forms change. Standards change. Everything changes. Language  evolves. Sometimes it takes a sudden departure up, down to the left or to the right. And I suppose that's okay.

So maybe I will give some consideration to this matter apart from any kind of political correctness or position on gender neutrality. There is a form of political correctness that I've always just called courtesy and good manners, that is,  addressing people the way they wish to be addressed.

  • Whether that's “sir” or “madam,” or “yes sir,” “no sir,” “Mister,” “Miss,” “Missus,” or “Ms.”
  • Your Honor, Your Majesty, Your Lofty Loveliness,
  • Pastor Reverend, Father, Rabbi, Grand Master
  • Officer, Deputy, Detective
  • All those variations.

Father, sister, brother.

And with that in mind, I can only say it may be a welcome change to have some standard that we can all somehow live by without the element of confusion. I want what I write and what I say, all humor aside, although, all humor is never aside, but this is serious, to stand the test of time and be relevant.

I know that not everything will always be relevant, but at least some of it be relevant for the future.

Don’t get me started on unisex bathrooms. I have always been in favor of first come, first serve private restroom is public. I might call that the Public/Private Sector.

So here it is. We do the best we can, and I will give some consideration to the pronouns. Them their, those, all of that.

And if you have “a beef” with that, take it to the pasture; I am a vegetarian.

No offense.