blog postsWill the Supreme Court soon be policing your speech?Nov 20, 2020 11:00 am3524 views Last week Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito delivered a politically-charged speech to the conservative Federalist Society. He denounced same-sex marriage, bemoaned the loss of religious freedom in America, complained that the Covid-19 pandemic gave government unprecedented control over our lives, and lashed out at experts influencing public policy. Justice Alito also reminded his sympathetic audience of the dangers to the First Amendment posed by the “growing hostility to the expression of unfashionable views” on campus or in the office. His one example: “You can’t say that marriage is the union between one man and one woman.” In June, Alito dissented from a Court opinion upholding the rights of gay and transgender employees. In a section of his dissent headed “Freedom of Speech,” he attacked laws and regulations targeting language discrimination, citing what he considered two blatant First Amendment violations: a New York City’s human rights law that makes ignoring someone’s pronoun a punishable offense; and unspecified college regulations that require the use of singular they or coined gender pronouns like xe, zie, and hir. These rules encourage the use of inclusive language, but Alito implied he would welcome litigation asserting the First Amendment defense, “You can’t make me say your pronouns.”Pronouns on TV: pop culture meets inclusive languageAug 1, 2020 11:45 am1043 views You know that gender pronouns like hie and zie are a thing when they start showing up in TV dramas. If you haven’t noticed them, never fear, for I, your professor of pronouns, will now enlighten you. Let’s start with hen. It’s Swedish, not English, but be patient, because there’s an English tie-in at the end. The oldest genderless pronouns are lo and zo, for French, and e, es, em, for EnglishJul 16, 2020 1:00 pm1148 views In 1765, Joachim Faiguet de Villeneuve invented two genderless third-person pronouns, lo (singular) and zo (plural), for an artificial language that he called Langue nouvelle, or ‘new language.’ English didn’t catch up until 1841, when Francis Augustus Brewster coined e, es, and em.Verbing pronounsApr 20, 2020 10:00 am1197 views Nonbinary singular they has become so normal that people now want to know the rules for how to use it. Which is right, they is or they are? Is the reflexive themself or themselves? Even if your answer is, “Wait, what rules? There are no rules,” the fact that anybody’s asking is all the proof we need that English pronouns are continuing to change. Here’s the latest change: as we see in this tweet from the British writer and gender activist, Shon Faye, nonbinary singular they has become a verb: A trans man described his period of identifying as nonbinary to me the other day as “I was they/themming at the time.”Gender conceal: Did you know that pronouns can also hide someone's gender?Nov 9, 2019 4:15 pm2957 views Gender reveals have been exploding in the news recently, but there are also a growing number of gender conceals—using a pronoun to hide someone’s gender. Historically, two English pronouns have been used to mask a person’s gender: it and they. But so far the definitions of it and they don’t include the gender conceal. First let’s look at they. The Oxford English Dictionary lists three senses for singular they: referring collectively to members of a group (everyone, everybody) referring to an individual generically or indefinitely (someone, a person, the student) referring to someone who is nonbinary or gender-nonconforming (Sam Smith’s pronouns are they and them). I think it’s time to add a fourth sense: referring to someone whose gender needs to be concealed (the whistleblower…they). Nonbinary pronouns are older than you thinkOct 13, 2018 5:15 pm26779 views October 17 is International #PronounsDay. We have grammar day, mother language day, dictionary day, punctuation day! apostrophe day’, talk like Shakespeare day, even talk-like-a-pirate day. But this is the first time ever that a part of speech gets its own day. And not just a part of speech, but a part of a part of speech. Oct. 17 is not a day to celebrate all pronouns. We don’t celebrate the interrogatives, demonstratives, and relatives, worthy as they may be. We don’t even celebrate all the personal pronouns. Instead, October 17 is set aside for just the third-person singular gender-neutral and nonbinary personal pronouns. It’s the day for ze, hir, E, per, xi, ip, thon, heesh, co, um, le, and singular they. These may seem new, but they’re older than you think.