Magazine November 30, 2020, Issue

Pronouns Go Political

A classroom in Washington, D.C., December 15, 1964 (Library of Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress via Reuters)
What’s Your Pronoun? Beyond He and She, by Dennis Baron (Liveright, 320 pp., $25.95)

‘The movement to make amends for the excludingness of the male pronoun,” recently noted the playwright Tom Stoppard, “is becoming ridiculous.” Whether this is truly a movement or merely a ruckus — a disturbance, a mere commotion — is less than clear. Whatever the case, the casual use of the male singular pronoun he has become an issue, a matter in the flux of controversy. What is at issue in the pronoun war is the want of a properly inclusive pronoun to use with collective and indefinite nouns and pronouns (no one, anyone, someone, none, etc.). This is not a

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Joseph Epstein — Mr. Epstein is the author, most recently, of Gallimaufry, a Collection of Essays, Reviews, Bits.

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