$newsid = '3NpV8.firstname.lastname@example.org'; ?> Mike Newdow, the guy behind the Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, is a gender-neutral pronouns nut. In a profile in the New York Times he used his 15 minutes of fame to rant about two things: child custody and the need to replace English's gender-biased pronouns with neutral ones.
I'm certainly with him that in an ideal world, English would permit one to gracefully be ambiguous about gender in ordinary speech, as do many other languages (for instance, Chinese). But language planners have been tilting at this particular linguistic windmill at least since 1850 with little success. There have been dozens of attempts to introduce "epicene pronouns" (as they're called) into English, but English hasn't budged.
A bit of review. Standard English has five pronouns for four gender/number combinations:
Subject he she it they Object him her it them Possessive Adjective his her its their Possessive Pronoun his hers its theirs Reflexive himself herself itself themselvesReformers have often looked at the he and she columns and proposed a new set of singular pronouns for animate objects which would not require the speaker to indicate a gender. The Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ lists 145 different forms in over 340 schemes, from "ae" to "zirself". Newdow's preferred scheme of "re/erm/rees" isn't even listed. A few examples:
1850 1970 ? Newdow Subject hiser co sie re Object hiser co hir erm Possessive Adjective hiser cos hir rees Possessive Pronoun hisers cos hirs rees Reflexive hiserself coself hirself reeself
Supposedly the "co/co/cos/cos/coself" scheme had some actual use among alternative co-opers in the 1970's and occasionally some of the other schemes are used in written discussion on the Net. Otherwise, all these would-be language planners have been spinning their wheels.
And this is what the most famous atheist du jour chooses to promote during his moment in the Times! Hell, even an enthusiasm for Esperanto or Klingon can be cast as a simple hobby. Why must all atheists in the public eye be cranks?Usenet thread