Saturday, May 07, 2005

We're returning to where we were.

More than a few years ago, I noticed something weird about how I speak. I realized that I use the word them as a nongender singular objective pronoun instead of him/her (which over specifies gender, when gender either didn't matter or wasn't known to me. Even more weird, I actually often use the contraction 'em to differentiate it from the common plural use of the word them.
At first I thought I was a bit weird. Then I noticed other people use the word them in this way. It's not overly common, but it's out there. Like, "if a stranger comes up next to you in a car, don't get in the car with them no matter what." An english major might tell you that statement is mixing up the subject, but it really is an attempt to apply them in the singular form.
The nice thing about the word 'em is that it is much quicker and easier to say than the artificial sounding P.C. term him/her. I also use themself as the nongender version of him/herself.
Since my realization about this word 'em, I use it intentional instead of him/her except in formal documents. Another thing I've noticed is that I do not use any replacement of he/she. Maybe it's be sounds ignorant to say "They is walking this way." :)
Ok, so is there any takers on helping me start the revolution to get rid of the word him/her? :)

Ok, so thinking about this got me thinking about the complexity of the English language. When I was younger, I used to think that French was strange, with it's unpronounced letters and odd contractions. Of course, English gets many of its habits from French, but it took me a long time to put two and two together. Then one day, I realized that English has just as strange unpronounced letters and even more weird contractions. I'm mean, trying telling a nonenglish speaker that thorough is pronounced "thir-o". Or worse, the same letters that are silence in thorough make the F sound in rough. What the hell? LOL
Along this thought, a phrase popped into my head that I thought would be particularly hard for nonenglish speakers, both in spelling and pronunciation. "We're returning to where we were." We're, where and were. They look pretty much the same, and sound pretty similar, but still distinct. Imagine a french speaker trying to say that three times fast. I think we're, where and were is worse than they're, their and there because at least these have the same pronunciation.

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