New "Dealing with eBay" FAQs are up

Sat May 28 22:24:35 EDT 2005

I agree that, in nearly all cases, making the noun plural is
the best solution.  But if you want to be theoretical and
abstract, the generic pronoun "he" -- inherently abstract when
it refers male and female -- is ideal.  Recasting the sentence
into the plural makes it more concete, as does the use of "he
and she."  In most writing it's better to be concrete, but
sometimes in academic writing expressing a proposition in
abstract terms is appropriate.  Yet I don't know of any
academic journal that would allow me to use the generic "he" 
regardless of the level of abstraction in which I may wish to
express myself.  


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sat, 28 May 2005 16:31:59 -0700
>From: "Bill DiBenedetto" <billdi at>  
>Subject: RE: New "Dealing with eBay" FAQs are up   
>To: <modlib at>
>That's probably the best way to handle it.
>In my other life as an editor dealing with the conspicuous
and pervasive
>sexism of the English language, and finding ways around it,
is a constant
>part of the job.  The "modern" constructions that attempt to
solve the
>problem --he/she. s/he, hir -- are too awkward, ugly and
jarring, plus they
>are unreadable and difficult to say aloud. In a way they are
also sexist
>because they call attention to the issue by trying so hard
not to be sexist.
> As Richard D. Johnson, in the Handbook of Good English,
says, "They are
>bows in the direction of feminism and are therefore sexist
anyway." He says
>the least annoying solution is to "evade the problem by
making any noun that
>will become the antecedent of a pronoun plural, so that 
they, them, their
>can be used."
>206-491-0296 (wk)
>206-963-0499 (personal)
>-----Original Message-----
>From: owner-modlib at
[mailto:owner-modlib at]On
>Behalf Of Scot Kamins
>Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2005 4:06 PM
>To: modlib at
>Subject: Re: New "Dealing with eBay" FAQs are up
>On May 28, 2005, at 3:58 PM, Michael Stutz wrote:
>> Scot Kamins <kamins at> wrote:
>>> On May 28, 2005, at 3:35 PM, Michael Stutz wrote:
>>>>> "Hir" is part of a movement in certain modern schools of
grammar to
>>>>> eliminate the awkward "him/her" construct when the sex
of the
>>>>> object
>>>>> is indeterminate but the number is singular.  But it is
a bit
>>>>> startling. I'll change it.
>>>> What's wrong with Strunk & White?
>>> I avoid wasted words whenever possible. :-D
>> Then you'll love what S&W has to say: never ever ever use
that clumsy
>> awful "him and her" and stick with the intelligent "him."
>But growing up in the gender-bending and anti-sexist 60's, I HATE
>"him" when the referand  could be a "her."  And of course
using the
>gender-neutral "one" sounds too pretentious even for moi. I
>could rewrite the sentence using the plural "sellers" and thus
>allowing me to say "their" and "them."
>- Scot Kamins
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Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
Library and Information Science Program
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
aa3401 at 

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