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completely off topic, but is this where we’re at now ? Calling someone « they » and thus create confusion, just in case he doesn’t belong to the 99.9% of the population who is just fine with his DNA, and eventhough he never expressed any kind of opinion leading you to think he isn’t fine with his gender ?

There is no implication that "he isn't fine with his gender". The implication is that the speaker doesn't know, and it doesn't matter enough to find out or make a judgement call.

Personally I still use he/she most of the time unless I have a reason not to, but I also try to get into the habit of assuming less, not least because online in particular it is increasingly noticeable how often we assume someone's gender even in situations we have no reason to.

It's not unsurprising that some choose to carry that over into discussing people they don't know the preference of when it doesn't otherwise matter.

One reason to do so may be to explicitly normalise the usage so it doesn't imply a value judgement e.g based on appearance.

While I'm sympathetic to this point of view, it seems pretty clear to me that Woz self-identifies as male. He has quite a visible profile and has never presented as anything other than masculine (with the exception maybe of the odd flourish on dancing with the stars), so to select such a pronoun in this case I believe is disregarding how he would wish to be identified.

Using a gender neutral pronoun isn't disregarding a person's gender identity, any more than referring to them as a "person" is.

I actually really don’t mind that much, I believe we can use language in whatever way suits us to express our thoughts and beliefs. Gp wasnt being prescriptive upon other people and I respect that. I am all for addressing people by their favoured pronoun.

« One reason to do so may be to explicitly normalise the usage so it doesn't imply a value judgement »

That’s some scary sentence here. so gender is now a « judgment ». Like, there’s no reason to assume because steve wozniak has all the physical characteristics of a male, and has always been called « mister », using « he » (which is the grammatically correct way of designing a male human in the english language by default) is the expression of a value judgement... Seeing this kind of mental twist in a scientific forum (which believes there is something called nature, with laws and hard facts) makes me really scared.

It looks as though you're just looking for an excuse to go on a pre-packaged rant about gender and sex. I find it scary that an innocuous use of singular "they" (which has been in use as long as English as existed) would provoke such a thing.

I'm not native english, so it could be possible that i overestimate the change to the english language using "they" as a default pronoun implies.

I'm extremely sensitive to ideology wanting to change a language to better reflect its theory. It's the first step to totalitarism, and it's almost always done with perfectly good intentions (until we start to see the damaging side effects).

Singular 'they' has been in use for hundreds of years. See e.g. this article that I linked to elsewhere in the thread: https://stroppyeditor.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/everything-yo...

Note that many of the historical examples involve contexts where gender would not even have been in doubt (e.g. all students at Cambridge would have been men).

Thanks for link. So am i dreaming when i think using this term is (re)appearing recently following the whole gender neutral pronoun discussions ? Has it already been as common but i just didn’t happen to notice it ?

I think you're conflating the issue of gender neutrality with more recent discussions of non-binary and trans gender identities. People have always needed gender neutral pronouns to say things like "Everyone has their flaws", or to talk about individuals whose gender is unknown or irrelevant. The only question has been whether it's 'he/him/his' or 'they/them/theirs'. If you speak a dialect of English where 'they' can function as a gender-neutral singular pronoun, then there's really no reason at all not to use that pronoun to refer to Steve Wozniak.

The use of singular 'they' has been common for (at least) several decades, long before any substantial number of people were worried about trans issues.

Can't speak for everyone in the UK, but at least in the area I live we use 'they/they're' a lot, and I don't believe it's a recent thing. We use he/she more, but using they isn't a rare thing.

You completely failed to understand what I was saying, which is that currently, when you say "they", some portion tends to jump to the conclusion that you're trying to make a point about the person you're talking about.

But some people use "they" just as a default when they're not sure. Using it as a default all of the time then serves to remove the consideration of whether or not it is done to try to send some sort of signal about the subject.

As a case in point, you here keep talking about Woz, but there is no reason to assume that using "they" was meant to imply anything about Woz at all. As such you're demonstrating exactly why to some using "they" in a bid to normalize it matters.

As for getting scared about it, it's just a pronoun. If that "scares" you, then that is an indication to me of why it is important.

I don’t think you’ll speak a very nice language if you start to take into consideration what every single word implied meaning could be either when it’s used or when it’s not used, and you start to use the most neutral generic term all the time for anything related to any topic that may potentially offend 0.001% of the population.

Remember one of the goal of a language is also to convey meaning, and if possible in the most precise way (which is already hard enough even without taking moral issues into consideration).

Nobody is asking you to take into consideration what every single words implied meaning could be.

The only question here is whether using "they" instead of "he" in this case implies something about Woz rather than is just a way for the speaker to be gender neutral in how they are writing about it.

It is already increasingly common to use singular "they" when we don't know the gender - I did it above, when writing about the person who originally used "they" about Woz. The only question then is whether there's any issue with doing so when their gender is relatively well known.

Since singular "they" is already common in English, the only reason why there might be an issue with it in the case of Woz would be because someone concerns themselves with the signalling effect.

We also never use language in the most precise way possible. That is a total strawman. Pretty much everything we write is full of ambiguity, sometimes because easier, but often also very much intentional, e.g. to signal that certain details (such as the gender of the person you're talking about) is irrelevant to what you're saying. And sometimes because it is political, such as to signal that gender does not matter can be.

Singular 'they' is pretty well established usage by now, regardless of gender considerations. Even people who complain about it still use it: https://stroppyeditor.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/everything-yo...

That is a great treatment. Thanks for the link.

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