Neutral pronouns

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Neutral pronouns

Postby Lomax on June 28th, 2016, 8:50 pm 

I am reading All Art Is Propaganda by George Orwell, and he leads into a passage from Dickens as follows:

The story given below is not particularly funny, but there is one phrase in it that is as individual as a fingerprint. Mr. Jack Hopkins, at Bob Sawyer's party, is telling the story of the child who swallowed its sister's necklace:


What's wrong with that quotation? Nothing factual. But suppose the following passage were also factual:

The story given below is not particularly funny, but there is one phrase in it that is as individual as a fingerprint. Mr. Jack Hopkins, at Bob Sawyer's party, is telling the story of the adult who swallowed its sister's necklace:


It jars grammatically, doesn't it? Or does it? I didn't know whether to put this thread in Art or in Social Sciences because it all depends on your answer. Is there a reason we're comfortable referring to a child but not an adult as "it"? Is there any semblance of psychological accuracy in doing so? Would "it" be an appropriate gender-neutral pronoun for an adult, as opposed to the sometimes jarring "they", or the clunky "he or she"?
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Re: Neutral pronouns

Postby dandelion on July 1st, 2016, 6:51 am 

Just quickly, not answering your questions, but thought I'd mention I've heard "hen" in use in English and personally think it sounds pretty good.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hen_(pronoun)
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Re: Neutral pronouns

Postby edy420 on April 13th, 2018, 7:13 pm 

I noticed it the first time, but missed it the second time.

Im not sure if that's because you used the term adult, or if I ignored it because I was just looking for the differences between the two quotations.

Calling an adult an it still doesn't seem right.
To me it makes it less personal, the adult is an object rather than a person.
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