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Abbreviation of "he or she" and "his and her"

English translation: s/he, his/her (or her/his)

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:Abbreviation of
English translation:s/he, his/her (or her/his)
Entered by: Paul Mably
Options:
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- Include in personal glossary

16:06 Jul 14, 2002
English to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial
English term or phrase: Abbreviation of "he or she" and "his and her"
Hello everyone,
Is there a standard abbreviation for "he or she" and "his or her". It needs to be repeated hundreds of times in the text I'm translating (from Spanish, which doesn't need a subject prononoun and uses the same possessive pronoun for both masculine and feminine!). Repeating "He or she" all the time makes the sentences very awkward!
Any suggetions???
Many thanks in advance,
Paul
Paul Edgar
Local time: 04:20
s/he, his/her (or her/his)
Explanation:
This form is now quite common,
but I also agree that one can use a noun like 'manager', 'employee', 'person' as well.

Suerte!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-16 22:39:43 (GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

Yes, this is a tough one into English. Spanish is much more economical in this respect.

Thanks, Paul
Selected response from:

Paul Mably
Canada
Local time: 19:20
Grading comment
From the wide variety of anwers posted and the opinions expressed, this is obviously a difficult one. Thanks to everyone for your suggetions, which have been a real help in deciding how to word certain sentences.
I have chosen this answer mainly because it is what I have used throughout the text. Unfortunately, in this case the questions could apply to a variety of people (Managing Director, Financial Director, Trainee Manager.....) so it was impossible to replace the pronouns with nouns. However, as many of you suggested, I rewrote the sentences (many times until they sounded natural) and avoided the use as much as possible.
Well, once again, thanks very much for your advice.
All the best,
Paul
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +7s/he, his/her (or her/his)Paul Mably
5 +3Use a combination of plural, he/sheANDhis/her, and appropriate nounsHelen D. Elliot
5 +2Two possibilities: 1)use masculine gender with a note 2) use appropriate noun formHelen D. Elliot
4 +2employee, worker,
Margaret Lagoyianni
4 +2they/them
Rufino Pérez De La Sierra
4 +1There is None!rvillaronga
4Another option
Trudy Peters
4one
Illona Morris
4The person/individual - the job
Kim Metzger


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


2 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
they/them


Explanation:
I have seen that used many times, but I don't know what context are you using...

There's even a Chicago Style manual that allows for that...

Good luck!

Rufino

Rufino Pérez De La Sierra
Canada
Local time: 23:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in pair: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Patrick McKeown: definitely;there's no eloquent way around this problem in English; you could try alternating they/them/their with whatever noun best suits your context: the reader's/the user's/the company's and so on
2 mins

agree  alx: "They" can be used indeed referring to a singular in some cases.
2 hrs
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13 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
employee, worker,


Explanation:
It's often useful to substitute a noun for the personal pronoun.

Margaret Lagoyianni
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:20
PRO pts in pair: 9

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  airmailrpl: the employee...
14 hrs

agree  Oleg Osipov: and many more nouns, depending on the context - it's a general technique.
1 day14 hrs
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15 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
The person/individual - the job


Explanation:
Maybe you can avoid the problem by substituting "the person" as in the person is competent, responsible, etc. doing "the" job.

Kim Metzger
Mexico
Local time: 21:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 2249
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22 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Two possibilities: 1)use masculine gender with a note 2) use appropriate noun form


Explanation:
I agree that we use the plural form in English wherever possible to avoid the "he/she" "his/her" situation

Another technique is to use the masculine gender with a note at the beginning of the questonnaire:

Note:
In the questionnaire the masculine gender is used only to lighten the text

Wherever possible, you may also use an appropriate noun (immediate superior):

E.g., On a scale of 1 to 10 .... how would your rate your immediate superior for ....?

My immediate superior keeps me informed of changes to the plan.




--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-14 16:34:04 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The example should have read as following, (in a list of several things to rate)

E.g., On a scale of 1 to 10 .... how would your rate your immediate superior for the following?
1) My immediate superior keeps me informed of changes to the plan.
2) My immediate superior provides clear detailed instructions regarding.....

And so on

Helen (who has done over a thousand questionnaires)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-14 18:28:13 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Again all I mean is that there is even sexist bias inherent in the he/she by putting the masculine first, (just as there would be in the she/he form).

There are certain conventions for dealing with this and use of the gender-neutral clause is still an option exercised by many.

I always ask a client if they want one--because it is their choice, otherwise I proceed as detailed below using a combination of the three possibilities.

Helen D. Elliot
Canada
Local time: 22:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  xxxLia Fail: I totally reject the solution of using masc. gender plus or minus note as sexist
38 mins
  -> As a specialist in this field, I must inform you that it is common practice. It is also common practice for legal documents

agree  Maria-Jose Pastor: disagree on masc. gender as it is very Un-PC, AGREE on your other option as least sexist and more PC.
1 hr
  -> Again, this has nothing to do with sexism. Do you mean to tell me that you are using "she or he" "her or his" in your texts? I'm talking about convention. There are other alternatives, see below.

agree  alx: Absolutely no offense in the note
2 hrs
  -> Thanks Alexandra, much appreciated

agree  John Kinory: As someone working into Hebrew, which is far far more gender-intensive than English, I agree that both your solutions are fine, Siulach's comment notwithstanding.
4 hrs
  -> Thanks John. In any case, the gender-neutral clause would be the client's decision. We do have other alternatives.
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +7
s/he, his/her (or her/his)


Explanation:
This form is now quite common,
but I also agree that one can use a noun like 'manager', 'employee', 'person' as well.

Suerte!

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-16 22:39:43 (GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

Yes, this is a tough one into English. Spanish is much more economical in this respect.

Thanks, Paul

Paul Mably
Canada
Local time: 19:20
PRO pts in pair: 4
Grading comment
From the wide variety of anwers posted and the opinions expressed, this is obviously a difficult one. Thanks to everyone for your suggetions, which have been a real help in deciding how to word certain sentences.
I have chosen this answer mainly because it is what I have used throughout the text. Unfortunately, in this case the questions could apply to a variety of people (Managing Director, Financial Director, Trainee Manager.....) so it was impossible to replace the pronouns with nouns. However, as many of you suggested, I rewrote the sentences (many times until they sounded natural) and avoided the use as much as possible.
Well, once again, thanks very much for your advice.
All the best,
Paul

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Gunilla Zedigh
37 mins
  -> thanks, Gunilla!

agree  jerrie: my manager, my superior etc
47 mins
  -> thanks, jerrie!

agree  cheungmo: Appropriate for a questionnaire. I would not use it in regular text though.
50 mins
  -> thanks, cheungmo!

agree  Illona Morris
1 hr
  -> thanks, Illona!

agree  Sue Crocker
7 hrs
  -> thanks Sue!

agree  Midori Wilson
8 hrs
  -> thanks, dorie!

agree  Piotr Kurek
1 day10 mins
  -> thanks, Piotr!
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
Use a combination of plural, he/sheANDhis/her, and appropriate nouns


Explanation:
Unless otherwise specified by the client (some prefer the gender-neutral clause and use of the masculine form), I use my judgement and combine all of the above where appropriate.

If you really want to, you can find sexism anywhere--even in the presentation of the masculine before the feminine gender in he/she.

The important thing is to write a text that is not cumbersome, that is clear and reads smoothly. I really think the "s/he" forms make for sore eyes after a while.

Where the question allows, you can use the plural without taking away from the meaning:

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means unimportant and 10 means extremely important, what level of importance do you assign to the following statements?

Managers should hold weekly progress meetings with all team members.

Managers should distribute a written report of the week's meeting to all team members no later than the week following the meeting.

Managers should hold monthly progress meetings with all team members....

In the rest of the text, use a combination of "he or she," and an appropriate noun with a definite or indefinite article as applicable.


Helen D. Elliot
Canada
Local time: 22:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Chris Rowson: Paul, you are clearly aware that this is an extremely tricky and sensitive issue. I think you can´t do better than consulting the client and using suggestions such as Helen´s.
3 hrs
  -> Thank you for such flattering praise Chris!

agree  John Kinory: Seconding Chris, praise and all.
5 hrs
  -> Thanks again, John

agree  Sarah Ponting
11 hrs
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
one


Explanation:
one should....

can this be used after using the employee/worker?

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-07-14 19:12:18 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

disregard this answer....I reread further explanation

Illona Morris
United States
Local time: 21:20
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5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
There is None!


Explanation:
No way to abbreviate he/she. And using only one gender is not "politically correct"

May I suggest a transaltion where you AVOID using the he/she pronoun. i.e:

"He or she is competent, responsible etc...in his or her job." It only ever refers to one person, so I can't really use "they" and "them"

"Is competent, responsible, etc."
"Is not competent, responsible, etc."

or

"This person is/is not...."

rvillaronga
United States
Local time: 21:20

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  John Kinory: We can't spend our lives in fear of the PC police.
2 hrs

agree  xxxLia Fail: In reply to Helen, I don't religiously use he/she, I just think that one has to find a solution and TRY to avoid propagating sexism. Also lots of very agood alternatives have been suggested here that are ENTIRELY appropriate for THIS context
1 day3 hrs

neutral  Oleg Osipov: Keeping up with John.
1 day20 hrs
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6 days   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Another option


Explanation:
would be to put a footnote on the first page, saying that "he" as used throughout the text is to be understood to mean he/she.
This was one of my client's solutions to the problem.


Trudy Peters
United States
Local time: 22:20
Native speaker of: Native in GermanGerman, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 65
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