f/k/a . . . the archives

April 10, 2004

Gender-neutral Pronoun Options

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 2:49 am

Here’s the list I compiled, trying to decide which combination of consonant plus long-e sound would make a good choice for a non-gender-specific (gender-neutral or epicene) pronoun, in the subjective case:




  • be — too confusing, given the verb, and the insect


  • ce — no one will know how to pronounce it (‘key”?, “see”?, “chee”?)


  • de — maybe; could be confused with Delaware, or Brooklynese for ”the” 


  • fe — reminiscent of “fee-fie-foe-fum”; the person would be a    contingent ”fee”; symbol for Iron; Spanish for faith, trust;


  • ge — confusing pronunciation (“gee”? or “jee”?); it’s the Greek-based prefix for earth; and the symbol for the chemical element germanium


  • je — it’s not found in any major European language (which is a plus), but it sounds weird (especially its possessive and objective forms)


  • ke – lots of homonyms


  • le — means you/yourself (sing., polite)  in Spanish;


  • me — already taken


  • ne –  confused with Nebraska, northeast, or New England, symbol for neon; variant of nee (born)


  • pe — very unfortunate slang homonym; means “printer’s error”; Phys. Ed.; Pro. Engineer


  • qe — who? why? what?


  • re — too many homonyms, and means “the thing” 


  • se — confuse with “see”; selenium; southeast;


  • te –  Spanish for you (obj. singular, familiar); confuse with “tea”, “tee”


  • ve — confuse with letter “v”


  • we — already taken


  • xe — pronunciation problem (not “ex-ee”, please!); symbol for xenium


  • ye – archaic for “you”


  • ze — maybe, but perhaps sounds too French; sounds like letter “z”

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