A Columbia Professor of linguistics, American studies, philosophy, and music history believes it’s time to stop calling girls and boys “she” and “he.” Instead, Professor John McWhorter believes that people should use the word “ze.”
Professor McWhorter, writing on CNN.com, says that “conceptions of gender… are most certainly changing” and so should the words we use to refer to people.
“In this new world,” he writes, “a bland opposition between “he” and “she” seems increasingly antique, and even insulting, to many.”
It’s going to be tough for people to use “ze” instead of the words they’ve been using all of their lives, McWhorter admits. However, “there is room for presenting “ze” as a matter not of fashion, but of basic civility — people must think of new pronouns as the proper thing to do, not as a stunt.”
Further, the word “they” should be changed to also mean one person instead of more than one. “They” should become both “singular and plural,” writes McWhorter.
People will change to “ze” eventually, McWhorter believes: “Assessing the prospects of new pronouns like ze and recast pronouns like they, my bet would be on they, in terms of the chances that, in 50 years, everybody is on board and on to the next controversy.”
He concludes, “What we do know, however, is that we are at a point where anglophones will need to accept some kind of change in how we use the language. Call it a teaching moment –language not only never stops changing, but could not.”