KudoZ home » Spanish to English » Poetry & Literature

themselves vs. himself

English translation: See explanation

Advertisement

Login or register (free and only takes a few minutes) to participate in this question.

You will also have access to many other tools and opportunities designed for those who have language-related jobs
(or are passionate about them). Participation is free and the site has a strict confidentiality policy.
GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
Spanish term or phrase:themselves vs. himself
English translation:See explanation
Entered by: Ana Lucía Jiménez Hine
Options:
- Contribute to this entry
- Include in personal glossary

22:00 Sep 4, 2008
Spanish to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Poetry & Literature / themselves vs. himself
Spanish term or phrase: themselves vs. himself
I have a doubt about the right form of the pronoun to use here (whether plural or singular):

"Each character will speak about themselves, about how they make a living and how they sort out their lives...."

Is it correct to use the plural form "themselves" instead of "himself"? I don't want to use "himself" because it excludes the female form, but also because I am referring to each of all the characters (plural).

Thanks!
Ana Lucía Jiménez Hine
Local time: 22:03
See explanation
Explanation:
In formal writing, using "themselves" in this context would still be considered incorrect, although you hear it used a lot in speech and some informal writing.

There are two ways around the problem:

1. Change the referent: "All the characters will speak about themselves"

2. Use both male and female forms of the 3rd person singular: "Each character will speak about him- or herself"

Hope this helps!
Selected response from:

Martin Boyd
Canada
Local time: 23:03
Grading comment
Thanks Martin, thanks Mediamatrix and thanks Jesica for the translation, who knows, maybe someone will use it! I loved the solution of placing "all" at the beginning. ¡Si todo fuera tan fácil!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

Advertisement


Summary of answers provided
5 +9See explanation
Martin Boyd
4see below***xxxJ Celeita
3one possible solution
Robin Levey
Summary of reference entries provided
Donald Scott Alexander

Discussion entries: 3





  

Answers


9 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
see below***


Explanation:
Cada personaje hablara acerca de sí mismo/a....

PERO...para escaparle a eso podrías decir:

"Cada personaje contará su historia personal"

or "Cada personaje hablará acerca de su vida, de qué trabajan, etc"

xxxJ Celeita
Local time: 20:03
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in SpanishSpanish, Native in EnglishEnglish
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

10 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +9
See explanation


Explanation:
In formal writing, using "themselves" in this context would still be considered incorrect, although you hear it used a lot in speech and some informal writing.

There are two ways around the problem:

1. Change the referent: "All the characters will speak about themselves"

2. Use both male and female forms of the 3rd person singular: "Each character will speak about him- or herself"

Hope this helps!

Martin Boyd
Canada
Local time: 23:03
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thanks Martin, thanks Mediamatrix and thanks Jesica for the translation, who knows, maybe someone will use it! I loved the solution of placing "all" at the beginning. ¡Si todo fuera tan fácil!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.
1 min
  -> Thanks, Patricia

agree  xxxJ Celeita: I am retarded! I thought she wanted the translation...DUH. You are 100% correcto mundo!
11 mins
  -> Thanks, Jesijay!

agree  Mónica Sauza
12 mins
  -> Thank you, Monica

agree  Regina Calcagno
1 hr
  -> Thanks, Regina

agree  ClayWWatson
1 hr
  -> Thank you, Clay

agree  lachacel
6 hrs
  -> Thanks!

agree  Rodrigo Tejeda
7 hrs
  -> Thank you, Rodrigo

agree  franglish
8 hrs
  -> Thank you!

agree  Egmont
10 hrs
  -> Thanks!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
one possible solution


Explanation:
In theory you should you use 'himself' (followed by 'his' living, 'his' life, etc.), but, as you say, that's a problem if the group includes women/girls.

One solution is to start the sentence with 'All the characters will ....' - then you can use the neutral plural themselves / their ...

Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 00:03
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Reference comments


2 hrs
Reference

Reference information:
The phenomenon called "singular they" or "generic they" has a long and respectable tradition in English, and has been used by important writers:


    Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
    Reference: http://crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/sgtheirl.html
Donald Scott Alexander
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)




Return to KudoZ list


KudoZ™ translation help
The KudoZ network provides a framework for translators and others to assist each other with translations or explanations of terms and short phrases.



See also:



Term search
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search