Lexicon Valley: The Elusive Quest for a Generic English Pronoun

A show about the mysteries of English.
May 14 2012 3:14 PM

For He/She’s a Jolly Bad Pronoun

Listen to Slate’s show about whether English needs a gender-neutral alternative.

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Listen to Lexicon Valley Episode No. 10: One Giant Leap for Humanity

In the third and final installment of our Lexicon Valley series about language and gender, Bob Garfield and I discuss the ongoing quest for a single, more equitable alternative to “he” and “she.” Since at least the 1850s, English speakers have made many unsuccessful attempts to introduce an epicene pronoun into the language. But University of Michigan professor Anne Curzan argues that we don’t need such a word, since we already have a perfectly acceptable, if controversial, alternative—just use “they.” Don’t like that solution? Maybe she’ll convince you.

You'll find every Lexicon Valley episode at slate.com/lexiconvalley, or in the player below:

Send your thoughts about the show to slatelexiconvalley@gmail.com.

Mike Vuolo is a radio and podcast producer and the host of Lexicon Valley.

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