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With greater acceptance and support on campus today for the diverse (and sometimes ambiguous) ways that gender may be defined and expressed, the practice of identifying Preferred Gender Pronouns (PGP's) has become increasingly popular at colleges and universities across the country. It is not uncommon to see student and faculty email signatures that include curious-looking word chains such as, "he/him/his," "she/her/hers," "they/their/theirs," or even "ze/zir/zirs. (1)" While this is a serious and important sociocultural issue that warrants further discussion, I will leave that task to the true scholars amongst us. As for me, a lifelong punster and logophile, I can not resist the temptation to play around with the way PGP's sound when read aloud. This experimentation led me to create a list of celebrities, characters, and miscellaneous classifications of people, paired with the PGP's that would be "appropriate" for them. With apologies to any readers who find this work to be objectionable, I wish to state my conviction that a deep respect for the subject matter and the ability to engage in related wordplay can easily co-exist. In fact, I believe, in the words of author G.K. Chesterton, that, "Angels fly because they take themselves lightly."


(1) Amongst many options available, these are the most frequently used gender-neutral pronouns, (see Table 1)

Marcel Marceau (my/me)

Paris Hilton (she/she)

Female Lead in La Boheme or RENT (me/me)

Mrs. Goldberg (you/who)

Southern Manure Farmer (she/it)

Subtraction Expert (mine/us)

Chocolate Lover (her/she)

Bitsy's Predecessor (its/he)

Political Candidate (who/we)

Poison Ivy Sufferer (it/she)

Asthma Sufferer (we/ze)

French Yes-Man (we/we)

Spanish "Walk the Dog" Champion (yo/yo)

The Fifth Little Piggie (we/we/we)

All the way home!

Works Cited

Leff, Lisa-Associated, Press. 'Preferred' Pronouns Gain Traction at US Colleges. AP Top News Package, Associated Press DBA Press Association, 11/30/2013.

Nordlinger, Jay. "What Are Your Pronouns? The Latest Craze on Campus." National Review, no. 20, 2015, pp. 26-28.


Wheelock College

Boston, MA
 Table 1.
Getting to Know Gender-Neutral Pronouns!
Traditional       He                I called
Masculine         laughed           him
Traditional       She laughed       I called
Feminine                            her
Gender Neutral    They              I called
(Singular         laughed           them
Gender            Ze laughed        I called hir
Neutral           (pronounced       (pronounced
(Ze)              zee as in         here)
                  the letter 'Z')
Traditional       His eyes      That           He likes
Masculine         gleam         is his         himself
Traditional       Her eyes      That is        She likes
Feminine          gleam         hers           herself
Gender Neutral    Their eyes    That is        They like
(Singular         gleam         theirs         themselves
Gender            Hir eyes      That is hirs   Ze likes
Neutral           gleam         (pronounced    hirself
(Ze)              (pronounced   here's')       (pronounced
Source: Nordlinger, Jay. "What Are Your Pronouns?
The Latest Craze on
Campus." National Review,
no. 20, 2015, p. 26.
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Author:Baggish, Steve
Publication:Word Ways
Date:Nov 1, 2017

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