Peep Yo: Baltimore Students Invent Gender-Neutral Pronoun


| 1/14/2008 1:30:54 PM


Tags: Yo, Linguistics, Pronoun, Gender, Gender-neutral, Baltimore,

The English language has at least one glaring deficiency: There is no gender-neutral pronoun to refer to other people. English speakers have always been forced to use either “he” or “she” when referring to others, until now. According to a recent study in the linguistics journal American Speech, Baltimore students have begun using the word “yo” as a gender-neutral pronoun, effectively replacing both “he” and “she.”

Examples of usage include “Peep yo,” meaning “Look at him or her,” or “Yo’s wearing a coat” meaning “(s)he is wearing a coat.” In an interview on Fair Game from Public Radio International, Margaret Troyer, a teacher who helped identify the pronoun and co-wrote the study, said that it’s considered extremely difficult to invent a new pronoun. When asked how these young students were able to inject more gender equity into the English language, Troyer said, “Maybe they just invented a new pronoun because they didn’t know that they couldn’t.”



Bennett Gordon

 

Dan_2
9/14/2008 9:59:29 PM

As noted by Portia St. Luke in yos comment, yo was developed by the founders of Yoism specifically to be a gender neutral pronoun. The derivation of yo (and some of its meanings in various languages) can be found here: http://www.yoism.org/?q=node/25 Usage notes for yo, yos, yo's, and yon can be found here: http://www.yoism.org/?q=node/23 Note that, more than seven years or so ago, one of the original founders of Yoism moved from Boston to Baltimore and organized a number of gatherings there in which The Way of Yo was spread. So this usage may, indeed, have originated with Yoism.


Dan_2
9/14/2008 9:59:04 PM

As noted by Portia St. Luke in yos comment, yo was developed by the founders of Yoism specifically to be a gender neutral pronoun. The derivation of yo (and some of its meanings in various languages) can be found here: http://www.yoism.org/?q=node/25 Usage notes for yo, yos, yo's, and yon can be found here: http://www.yoism.org/?q=node/23 Note that, more than seven years or so ago, one of the original founders of Yoism moved from Boston to Baltimore and organized a number of gatherings there in which The Way of Yo was spread. So this usage may, indeed, have originated with Yoism.


Portia St. Luke
1/22/2008 6:49:22 PM

Nice to see this phenomenon is finally getting the attention it deserves, but I don't think that the Baltimore students are the ones to come up with it. "Yo" as both a gender neutral pronoun AND a name for the {One/ All/ Divine Force of Creation/ Hairy Thunderer/ Cosmic Mufin} has been in use for some time. For more, as well as the history of the word, the philosophy, and the movement behind it, please visit: http://www.yoism.org http://www.portiastluke.com