From the website of the University of Southern California‘Obit: English Pronouns’ by Jan Darling The Society February 19, 2021 Culture, Humor, Poetry 31 Comments . Dear friends we gather here to say goodbye To words once used to speak both truth and lie. The HE and SHE and HIS and HERS and MINE By ZIE interred forever at ZIR shrine. No more can we know ZIM or VER by gender Just judging by the personal pudenda It’s ZIS or HIRS or VERS or EIRS or TERS Don’t be surprised—incertitude occurs. When the Alphabet of Egos started out The pronouns that we used were put to rout Good useful words were sent the way of “gay” A word once used for happiness and play. Then, sex assigned at birth did, inter alia, Define us more or less by genitalia. But now we hear there is a kind of speaking Describing diverse kinds of gender leaking. I love the bastard kids of dear old English The “how to use” that oft afflicts in Chinglish. No language has a more expansive heart Than the language handed on from dear old Dart.* It gives me all the pronouns that I need To address myself to any faith or creed I don’t need words that show a sexual preference When he and she provide my basic reference. Chromosomal complication’s not so rare Just a differentiation in your share; Does this require a new approach to grammar? Or do they simply think it adds some glamour? Pronouns tell us who’s who and what is what Ignoring what you DO with what you’ve GOT. Who owns what and which and why is made clear From there do what you like with your own gear. If we let our English pronouns be coerced Our total mother tongue will then be cursed Our English Grammar murdered by these fools By gendered language spread through government schools. Say no to HIRS and ZIM and TERS and VERS Consign them to a multi-gendered hearse Declare yourself in favour of plain speaking Untrammelled by the speech of gender leaking. . *Old Dart: Refers to England: the river Dart in Devonshire enters the sea at Dartmouth, site the Royal Naval College. Officers returning to England after a tour of duty referred to returning to “Old Dart”. It is a sentimental reference. eference. . . Jan Darling is a New Zealander who has worked in Auckland, Wellington, London, Barcelona, New York and Sydney at copywriting and marketing strategy. She has spent her leisure time over sixty years writing poetry and short stories. Now retired, she lives in pastoral New South Wales with her husband Arturo. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. 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CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 31 Responses Cynthia Erlandson February 19, 2021 I love this, Jan! Thank you for expressing truth this way. Reply Paul Freeman February 19, 2021 Great fun and well expressed. Mind you, I do wish we would adopt the second-person plural pronoun ‘yous’, as used by the Irish. It’s much more sensible than the singular and plural being the same. Reply Tonia Kalouria February 19, 2021 Jan, Amusing AND cogent! Paul, in America’s south, there is “y’all” which also makes sense as a plural for “you” to distinguish from the singular. C.B. Anderson February 19, 2021 In southern USA dialect this has already been achieved in “you-all” (singular) and “all you-all” (plural). “yous” is Brooklynese, or something like that. Jan Darling February 20, 2021 Thank you Paul – I’m not worried about dialectic use of pronouns. What is really getting my goat is the imposition of a whole new lexicon through social engineering. Marxist crap. Russel Winick February 19, 2021 “Then, sex assigned at birth did, inter alia, Define us more or less by genitalia.” Classic! Reply Jan Darling February 20, 2021 Thank you Cynthia. The constant abuse of our lovely language enrages me. Reply dm May 7, 2021 Our researchers into Public Opinion are content That he held the proper opinions for the time of year; When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went. He was married and added five children to the population, Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation. And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education. Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard. ……W.H . Auden Reply Daniel Kemper February 19, 2021 Me too! So infuriating those Marxists. Want to control every iota of other people’s lives. Reply Gail February 19, 2021 Excellent! Dreading the day refusal to use the new pronouns will get me arrested for using ‘hate speech’. Reply C.B. Anderson February 19, 2021 Better to be arrested, Gail, than to cave in to the demands of our supposed overlords. Reply Jan Darling February 20, 2021 CB – if I could guarantee that, when arrested, I would be consigned to you as a cellmate I may even misuse the subjunctive. Jan Darling February 20, 2021 Gail – the thought police know where you live. Facebook told them. Resist! Reply James A. Tweedie February 19, 2021 My vote is to use “it” “its” “they” and “their” as both plural and singular and forget the “personal” part of the pronoun completely as in, “I watched Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. They threw the ball like they were still in their twenties! It’s the greatest quarterback, ever!” I’m joking, of course. I’m actually one of those people who would like to revive the Elizbethan “thee” “thou” and “thy” that distinguished between the then-plural use of “you” “ye” and “your.” Consider the confusion this causes in places like 1 Corinthians 6:19 which, in the New King James version reads, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Is the “you” and “your” singular or plural? This makes a big difference in how to understand what Paul is saying. The original King James Version, with its use of the plural form, “ye,” made it clear that the “you” and “your” are plural while the words “body” and “temple” are singular. This means that it is not “my” body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but “our” collective body. Our language has already been dumb-ed down enough. I don’t mind seeing new words created to address new distinctions, but it makes no sense to cancel perfectly good and useful words and replace them with words that make things even more confusing than they are already. Good poem and thank you for raising the subject. Reply Jan Darling February 20, 2021 I’m right with you on “thee”, “thou” and “thy” and the Corinthian example is a most persuasive one. Reply Joseph S. Salemi February 19, 2021 The debasement of pronoun usage is already occurring in places where proper English is otherwise maintained. Consider the following sentence, which is typical not just in colloquial speech but also in current writing: “If someone wishes to make an appointment, they must first call the secretary in charge.” The use of the plural “they” in the above sentence is ungrammatical and illiterate, but it is now very common. Correct English would have “he must first call…” This debasement was demanded by feminist bitches who objected to using “he” as the default pronoun of reference for a singular antecedent of indeterminate gender. And pussy-whipped institutions went along with it. You want to fight this nonsense? Use the default pronouns “him” and “his” in all your speech (and especially in all your writing) when referring to an ungendered singular antecedent, and if anyone objects tell him to bugger off. If we had all done this ten years ago, the nonsense described in Darling’s poem would never have happened. Reply Jan Darling February 20, 2021 That’s another example of word-fogging. What’s wrong with a simple, direct and much more helpful “Persons wishing to make an appointment should call the appropriate secretary”. MUST???? If I don’t – will I get a whipping?? What kind of bullying language is MUST? And “first” is redundant – would you do it second or third? Reply Joseph S. Salemi February 20, 2021 All bureaucrats are addicted to language that emphasizes their elevated position and authority. Hence their fixation on wording that includes “must” and “are required” and “mandatory.” They are vermin with a power-complex. They are going to have a field day with these imbecilic faux pronouns. Susan Jarvis Bryant February 19, 2021 Jan, first of all (and most importantly) your poem rocks! It romps along with rhyme, rhythm and humour as it addresses one helluva serious issue at the same time. Very well done, indeed! I love the skillful use of rhyme endings. Your reference to the River Dart has taken me back to visits to Agatha Christie’s first private residence (Greenway House) which sits tucked on the banks of the river in all its simplistic and historic glory. Whenever I read about the insidious gender pronoun nonsense, it reminds me of Jordan Peterson saying he had studied authoritarian regimes for 40 years and they’re started by people’s attempts to control the linguistic territory. We must never be bullied into skewing language to suit the requirements of elitist bullies. Jan, when I first joined SCP, you once said to me you wished you had written one of my poems… I wish I had written this! Reply Jan Darling February 20, 2021 Thank you Susan – and since that time I wish that I had written EVERY ONE of your poems. I do so enjoy reading you. Reply Tonia Kalouria February 20, 2021 And … turns out … MATHMATICS is authoritarian and therefore RACIST! My dear late husband, an engineer, used to repeat “Math doesn’t change!” (When trying to explain a problem/solution to me in Statistics 101.) Well, it has (been) changed now. Maddening. And sad. Reply Christopher Flint February 21, 2021 Jan — You have written some extremely clever lines to indict insanity that our language has no business recognizing. We have far too many people who can’t use the pronouns we have now properly and, worse, who don’t realize when pronouns shouldn’t be used at all. Mr. Salemi’s example and your editing both illustrate why we should “inform” in the third person and “instruct” in the second person. Here is the original: “If someone wishes to make an appointment, they must first call the secretary in charge.” To “inform,” we should simply state the fact — “Secretaries schedule appointments.” This makes the instruction inferable. To “instruct,” if necessary, we should command “Contact secretaries to schedule appointments.” This makes the fact inferable. Pronouns and everything else in the example are superfluous, which as Mr. Salemi points out, is typical bureaucratic overkill. The meaning of “make” in this case is less than clear, and “call” is likely too specific. In any case, to your very valid poetic point, destroying genetalia based gender is indeed the real crime. Forcing new pronouns to assert such deceit is aiding and abetting. No one should be indoctrinated with such crap. In our language as is, writing in the correct mood, voice, person, case, gender, and number would help a lot of folks with pronouns, as would remembering that antecedents, stated or clearly implied, establish their use. That said, however, pronouns should be substituted only where doing so serves a useful purpose that can’t be otherwise effected. I, like Mr. Salemi, am still a fan of the singular masculine indeterminate default, but pluralization or avoidance altogether can usually eliminate the need for that usage too. Reply Jan Darling February 22, 2021 Thank you, Christopher. I, too, prefer the old-fashioned singular masculine default. The meagre grasp of grammar today is brought about by teaching institutions becoming infiltrated by “new” ideas about teaching. The cancellation from syllabi of the building blocks of our language – in my time known simply as grammar, followed by lessons in analysing the written word – lessons known as “parsing”; further followed by “comprehension”. I was educated by nuns until I was 13 when I attended a state school, where I sat for two full years of English while I waited for the lessons to catch up with my previous education. However, our problem today is more socially intrusive in its objectives which (cunningly) exclude the majority by including the minorities. This is no less than the social engineering of our language by the lowest common denominators. God help those poor children whose minds are being mangled by Marxism. Reply Sarban Bhattacharya February 22, 2021 Besides nullifying these newly invented pronouns, we can also bring back some of our old 2nd person pronouns like Thou, thee etc. In rural Ireland, some of the se old-fashioned pronouns are still used colloquially. As for the newly coined pronouns , I am highly impressed by this poem, which logically presented the systematic throttling of English grammar by the politically correct lefties. The way things are going on these days , one day in near future, English language and literature will be completely under control of the so-called diverse people. We have to stop this now to retain the glory of the English language. Reply Jan Darling February 22, 2021 Yes, Sarban. Mr Tweedie, above, puts forward a most persuasive argument in favour of “thee” “thou” and “thy”. While I have you at my fingertips – my current nightmare is populated by all kinds of people “reaching out” to me. This last week, our electricity supplier stretched its metaphorical arms in my direction. The company on the net from which I buy the occasional item of clothing and other goods reached out to me explaining that they were right out of backflow incense cones. Only yesterday a local real estate agent reached out to me about increasing property values. But oddest of all is the returned services monthly charity who was reaching out to me with news of a special “Veteran Amputees” raffle. How does this verbal contagion get itself sucked up and into circulation so quickly? Reply Joseph S. Salemi February 23, 2021 The ubiquity of the horrible “reach out” idiom grates on my nerves too. The best antidote to it was created by the U.S. Army special sniper squad, which now uses (as its unofficial motto and emblem) the advertising jingle “Reach out, reach out and touch someone!” in conjunction with crossed telescopic rifles and a sighting reticle. David Watt February 23, 2021 Jan, your topical poem is well rhymed and well timed. One of the many buzz words these days is “diversity.” Yet I find it ironic that the replacement of time-proven pronouns by hazy, purposely meaningless words achieves precisely the opposite, at least in terms of a clear male/female differentiation. Reply Jan Darling February 25, 2021 David, thank you. What do you feel about “moving forward”? It’s been around for a long time but seems to be enjoying a renaissance. Of all the grammatical offences that our national broadcasters and general media offer us, the most constant is the use of a collective noun with a plural verb! eg: the Army are… the group of girls were dancing. Editors, politicians and teachers are equally guilty – what hope is there for a literate generation? However, if I were you I would be very careful about expressing the heresy of clear male/female differentiation. Reply David Watt February 26, 2021 Jan, my opinion of the term “moving forward” is that it’s nothing more than a convenient filler. Why not say “In the future”, “From now on”, or something similar? It is true that national broadcasters and the media often set an extremely low grammatical standard. One of our local radio stations features a newsreader who drags out all her sentence endings like all day suckers, and treats grammar as a passing curiosity. I’ll stick to my he’s and she’s regardless of the fashion. You’re right though, expressing a contrary opinion can lead to unpleasant consequences. Reply Joseph S. Salemi February 27, 2021 “Moving forward” is particularly nauseating. My guess is that it started in the business world, in one of those power-point demonstrations of sales figures and projections of future earnings. But now every damned bureaucrat and politician in the country uses it in all situations. Reply Jan Darling March 1, 2021 My guess is that your guess is right on, Joseph. I first encountered it more than 10 years ago when it dripped like honeyed venom from the lips of an ad agency friend. And I’ll bet my bottom dollar he was quoting one of his own power point presentations. Reply Leave a Reply to Cynthia Erlandson Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.