Spivak pronouns can bite my ass.

"Whoa," you say. "That's unnecessary!"

I'll begin with a small anecdote. Today, I was reading a writeup on E2. It was a good writeup. It was an interesting writeup. It was a thorough writeup. I thought to myself, "I know many people, E2 users and others, who will be interested in this." In the end, I did upvote the writeup.

The writeup had a few typos in it, it seemed, and one of them was a link. I was about to message the author telling him that a link of his was mistyped, when I realized it was a pipe link to the present node.

"CURSES! Spivak pronouns have struck again!"

When viewed in a table, as at the top of this node, Spivak pronouns look decent. The pronouns look somewhat plausible, based on the words they replace, and fit in nicely next to the first and second person pronouns already in use in English. And, certainly, the notion of having a set of true gender-neutral third person pronouns is a great boon to English - no more assuming a persons gender, no more odd awkward phrases like "(s)he" or "his or her." (spivak pronouns)++, no?

Well, no. (spivak pronouns)--, in fact. And again, (spivak pronouns)--. Once more. (spivak pronouns)--. Spivak pronouns fail on one account above all others, but it's enough to completely destroy their usefulness.

They're awkward.

More awkward, in fact, than all the linguistic kludges they try to replace. A document that uses Spivak pronouns looks like one that is poorly edited and rife with typographical errors. The more common ways around the problem Spivak pronouns claim to solve are superior for the sole fact that they use real words. When a writer writes "his or her," he or she may cringe at the awkwardness of the phrase, but can content himself or herself with the knowlege that the intended reader will know exactly what he or she means. If that same writer writes "eir," people unfamiliar with Spivak pronouns, which can be assumed to be most of the population, will be confused.

Leaving awkwardness aside, Spivak pronouns feel artificial. New words that become commonplace in English, or any language, are words that feel natural in the flow of the language. Spivak pronouns, however, flaunt their artificiality for all the world to see.

Besides, isn't attempting to control language vaguely Nineteen Eighty-Four-esque?

From #e: <jm> WE'VE GOT "IT" AND "ITS", FUCKERS
This node intentionally void of Spivak pronouns.