He Versus She

Dr. Seuss invented the term “nerd.” Geoffrey Chaucer coined “twitter.’” Vladimir Nabokov gave us “nymphet,” which is probably what you would expect from the author of Lolita. I have no idea who said “selfie” the first time, but clearly the English language has a long and storied history of word creation.

Which leads me to our problem, the lowly pronoun. English users need a fix, an injection into our verbal circulatory system that serves as the gender-neutral alternative to “he” or “she.”He Versus She

“They,” as neutered substitutes go, bothers me. It’s plural and, therefore, mathematically incorrect. “It” is just pain wrong on so many levels. And the phrase “he or she” sounds awkward, like somebody doesn’t have the balls…err…chops to say what they want.

Argh. See what I mean?

I like the idea of re-purposing “sheesh” as an alternative to “he or she.” It’s one syllable, and the fact that sheesh is almost a palindrome is a huge plus. It feels very yin and yang, which is kind of the whole point of a gender-neutral pronoun, right?

Do you have a suggestion? I hope so. Because we have our work cut out for us. After we solve the he-versus-she problem, we need to deal with him versus her. Same problem.

I took a stab at it. I mashed him and her together and came up with “hirm,” not to be confused with its homonym “herm,” a stone pillar with a carved head on top that was used in ancient Greece as a boundary marker.

But I’m not sold on “hirm.” Maybe we should turn this discussion over to that other newcomer into the English language, the #twitterverse.