Just a couple of thoughts to spark your thinking… keep all flammables at a distance please!
Number One: Personal pronouns are used as replacements for proper nouns. Let’s say I have a friend named Bob. When I am in Bob’s presence, I either refer to Bob by his name, or I use the second person pronoun “you”. We use this convention to reduce repetition and boredom. For example, when asking Bob to go get me a beer, I don’t say, “Hey Bob, would Bob do me a favor and go to the fridge and then could Bob bring it to me on the back deck?” No, convention allows – one might say even requires, that we substitute the second person pronoun in the second and third reference to Bob in the sentence. I should have said, “Hey Bob, would you do me a favor and go to the fridge and then could you bring it to me on the back deck?” When someone is spoken to directly, we use their name or the second person pronoun “you” or some other referent (like nicknames or pet names). It is convention.
When we are in someone’s presence the second person pronoun “you” is the grammatically correct thing to do.
When we are speaking about someone rather than to someone, convention requires that we use third person pronouns (he/she – him/her/ (depending of the case [the usage in the sentence] for singular persons or they/them for a plurality of persons. This rule has been around since the language was developed.
The point is, the use of third person pronoun is only required when the person that we are talking about is not in our presence or a part of the conversation. I never call Bob “he” in a conversation. It would be inappropriate and silly. So, third person pronouns should have little or no consequence to the people we are talking about because they are not present or a part of the conversation – therefore they can have no first hand, direct knowledge of which pronouns have been used as replacements. They certainly cannot be directly offended by the pronoun usage because they were not present when uttered. If they have pronoun spies, they can report it, but if they do, they have bigger problems than pronoun sensitivity.
Requiring that others use specific third person pronouns outside of their presence is requiring something that is not only unconventional, it is unnecessary and silly, When we are in their presence, we can just use “you” or their proper name.
This should much ado about nothing… except people and institutions are requiring conformity or else. This, to me, is nothing less than grammatical bullying. If we as a society stoop and succumb to this bullying, we become their grammar slaves and they become our masters.
Number Two: If we allow individuals the power to choose pronoun referents, why don’t we do the same with other parts of speech? What if I have my preferred verbs, adjectives, and adverbs? What if I require you to use adjectives like, charming, witty, intelligent, handsome, ripped, or hygienically pristine? What if I require you use my preferred verbs, adverbs, or gerunds? There would be no end to how far others could push us.
Why stop with pronouns, I ask?
The better question is why start with them?
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For His Glory,