Over the past few days I've been doing a lot of thinking and talking about they/them pronouns, singular they vs. plural they, and how best to present the they/them checkbox option on the annual survey.
(Following this blog post, mainly: https://gendercensus.tumblr.com/post/651198185451175937/on-plural-they-and-plural-inclusivity)
@gendercensus Even in this thread I'm unsure whether plural they means "they referring to multiple people" or "they/.../themselves referring to any number of people"
@madewokherd There are three theys:
Singular they - referring to one person, any reflexive but usually "themself", e.g. "they are a writer"
Plural they - referring to two or more people, reflexive "themselves", e.g. "they are writers"
Indefinite they - referring to an indistinct other of unknown number, any reflexive probably, e.g. "they say it's good to write what you know..."
@gendercensus I would argue that the forms including reflexive determines the pronoun set, not the number of people referenced.
@madewokherd The ways of using "they" basically boil down to the intent/meaning of the word, and words are created to convey meaning, so I would probably argue that they are the *point* of the words and the most important part! Like, in French the word for avocado and the word for lawyer are the same spelling, but they are definitely different words. :D
@gendercensus You could presumably distinguish those by context and/or pronunciation. If you used "indefinite they" as a specific person's pronouns (if that's not a contradiction to begin with), the context and pronunciation would be identical, so the pronoun set would be equivalent in usage and indistinguishable.
@madewokherd You're right, and also because it means something different to the participant I want to record it the way they would want it to be recorded, especially if they felt strongly enough about it that they typed it in even though an identical set was already available as a checkbox.
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