Main | Monday, June 25, 2007

Get Huh!

Some of you may be aware of the occasional doomed campaign to institute an English-language gender-neutral pronoun. Previously failed contenders have included "shem", "herm" and (my personal favorite) "thon". The newest suggestion comes with the support of some transgendered folks, many of whom have long bristled over the pronouns that support the "binary gender paradigm."

The latest such pronoun comes from DeAnn DeLuna, who teaches literature at Johns Hopkins University. Her creation, "hu," would replace he, she, him, her and his. Because it's just one word, unlike an entire set of pronouns, DeLuna says its easier to use than other gender-neutral pronouns. And the word (pronounced "huh"), trips off the tongue easily.

Gender and pronouns have vexed language watchers for some time. At one point, the English language had no clear female pronoun, so it was a monumental shift when "she" emerged in the 12th century. In 2000, the American Dialect Society chose "she" as its Word of the Millennium.

Sorry, but I don't see anything revolutionary about "hu/huh". It's been the favored pronoun of native New York gay men for as long as I can remember. "I'm through with huh!" Here's a bit of NSFW substantiation of that, a house music track whose opening still slays me 14 years later.

Get Huh! (Download. Stream.)
Ride Committee featuring Roxy
E-Legal Records, 1993

UPDATE: Fixed the music links, sorry about that.

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