What's Your Pronoun?
Beyond He and She
Contextualising 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 spark debate, prompting new policies about what pronouns to use. 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 asserted that he did not include she) and people have been coining new gender pronouns for centuries. An essential work in understanding how 21st century culture has evolved, 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.
“Dennis Baron has spent years researching the quest for a gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun in English. Lively, accessible and full of fascinating details, What’s Your Pronoun? will appeal to anyone with an interest in linguistic and cultural history.”
— Deborah Cameron, Worcester College, University of Oxford