What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She

What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She

by Dennis Baron


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Addressing one of the most pressing cultural questions of our generation, Dennis Baron reveals the untold story of how we got from he and she to zie and hir and singular-they.

Like trigger warnings and gender-neutral bathrooms, pronouns are sparking a national debate, prompting new policies in schools, workplaces, even prisons, about what pronouns to use. Colleges ask students to declare their pronouns along with their majors; corporate conferences print name tags with space to add pronouns; email signatures sport pronouns along with names and titles. Far more than a by-product of the culture wars, gender-neutral pronouns are, however, nothing new. Pioneering linguist Dennis Baron puts them in historical context, noting that Shakespeare used singular-they; women invoked the generic use of he to assert the right to vote (while those opposed to women’s rights invoked the same word to assert that he did not include she); and people have been coining new gender pronouns, not just hir and zie, for centuries. Based on Baron’s own empirical research, What’s Your Pronoun? chronicles the story of the role pronouns have played—and continue to play—in establishing both our rights and our identities. It is an essential work in understanding how twenty-first-century culture has evolved.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631496042
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 01/21/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 321,788
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Dennis Baron professor emeritus of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois, has long been a national commentator on language issues, from the Washington Post to NPR and CNN. A recent Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in Champaign, Illinois.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Missing Word 17

2 The Politics Of He 39

3 The Words That Failed 79

4 Queering The Pronoun 115

5 The Missing Word Is They 149

A Chronology Of Gender-Neutral And Nonbinary Pronouns 185

Acknowledgments 247

Notes 249

Index 273

Customer Reviews