The article surveys the problems English has in finding an enduring third person singular pronoun that is gender-free, as well as some of the novel solutions offered throughout history.
I couldn't resist the chance to give a tounge-in-cheek comment, partly to spark further discussion. Here is my post which I hope will be uploaded by the moderator soon. Any comments will be enjoyed!
Greg wrote: I don't see why all the fuss about avoiding "he" or "she" when the gender of the person is known, though I agree using the form "he or she" is clumsy.
Well if the pedants of the world won't accept what many grammars already allow i.e. the use of the singular "they", then there is another gender neutral third person singular pronoun already available, with no complications of being considered plural as well as singular, and perfectly acceptable in the case of all other life forms on Earth. The pronoun I refer to is "it".
Both male and female animals, birds, fish, insects, etc can be referred to in this way, so why not humans as well? Would a construction such as "it has left it's book here" be so shocking? confusing? Are we so concerned about gender recognition that this would be unacceptable?
While I myself routinely use "they" in these situations, I feel "it" would be a useable alternative for consideration.