Oh my, this change will be hard on some of us traditionalists ("We've Come to Prefer They/Them Pronouns," Sept. 12). To minimize the change, how about changing your sentences when possible? In your examples: "When a customer walks into a restaurant, he or she can order off the menu" — why not change it to, "When customers (plural) walk into a restaurant, they (plural) can order off the menu." In the other example: "Every attendee brought his or her dog." Make it instead: "All attendees brought their dogs." Same meaning but more grammatically correct and less jarring. A little editing can work wonders.
Edward "Buzz" Webb, McKinleyville
"You know what language doesn't change? A dead one," observe Jennifer Fumiko Cahill and Thadeus Greenson, quite correctly ("We've Come to Prefer They/Them Pronouns," Sept. 12).
While we agree that a tongue should not die for lack of updates that keep it relevant to contemporary culture, we would rather language evolved to greater clarity and elegance than degenerated into meaningless slop. If a plural pronoun ("they") might now represent either singular or plural antecedents, we have encouraged confusion, which is the opposite of building an ever more effective language. We, personally, have always preferred accurate, concise communication, and have done what we could to avoid murky usages that actively kill the English language.
"They" is the plural of "she," "he," "it" and whatever might be used for a non-gender-specific individual in the third person; and it's long been employed for hypothetical or unknown persons, whether singular or plural. Misusing a word that already has at least two common meanings is sure to create befuddlement and frustration.
New vocabulary — for example, "ze/zerm/zis" or "e/em/ers" — might sound odd at first but as soon as such an upgrade were widely adopted, it would improve precision in language, i.e., clear communication. People laughed at "Ms." in the early 1970s; nobody blinks an eye now. Non-cis-language crafters, we implore you to present reasonable alternatives to the corrosive misuse of tried-and-true pronouns. AP Style will adapt.
We trust that no haters will diss us for our own chosen pronouns; show some respect to a person whose "thing" is English! A plural first-person pronoun that might indicate one or many people is no more confusing than a plural third-person pronoun capable of the same, is it? (My preferred pronouns: first person — "we/us," second person "you/y'all" and third person — never speak of us in the third person!)
Laura Cooskey, Petrolia