Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Spivak pronouns are new terms proposed to serve as gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronouns in English (see gender-neutral pronouns). These neologisms are used by some people who feel that there are problems with gender-specific pronouns because they imply sex and/or gender (see non-sexist language).
This pronoun set was originated by Michael Spivak, a mathematician-educator who used them in a number of books. It is also the favoured choice of certain people who have written about the subject, such as in Footnotes: Pronouns and in the Gender-Neutral Pronoun FAQ.
The Spivak pronouns derive from the use of the singular they; by simply dropping the "th", the singular form is formed.
There are two variants of the Spivak pronouns in use, as shown in the table below. See Declension for more information on each of the cases.
|Subject||Object||Possessive Adjective||Possessive Pronoun||Reflexive|
|Male||He laughed||I hit him||His face bled||I am his||He shaves himself|
|Female||She laughed||I hit her||Her face bled||I am hers||She shaves herself|
|Singluar they||They laughed||I hit them||Their face bled||I am theirs||They shave themselves|
|Spivak||E laughed||I hit em||Eir face bled||I am eirs||E shaves emself|
|Spivak (alternative)||Ey laughed||I hit Em||Eir face bled||I am Eirs||Ey shaves Eirself|
Spivak is one of the allowable genders on many MUDs and MOOs. Others might include some selection of: male, female, neuter, either, both, splat, plural, egotistical, royal, and 2nd. The selected gender determines how the game engine refers to a player.
In the event that E enters standard English, it will be the fourth word of one letter, the others being I, A, and O.
Spivak pronouns are very rare compared to other solutions and therefore some commentators feel that it is unlikely that they will catch on. Others point out that they are the most natural gender-neutral pronouns and easy to learn, since they derive from an already well-known form. Supporters feel that this makes them preferable at least to the sie/ze/zie/xe forms.
Publications employing Spivak pronouns
- The Joy of TeX (Michael Spivak)
- Comprehensive Introduction to Differential Geometry (Michael Spivak)
- Calculus on Manifolds (Michael Spivak)
- The Paradox of Self-Amendment: A Study of Logic, Law, Omnipotence, and Change (Peter Suber)
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