The Pronoun Project is about increasing awareness of two words:
yee and em
"Yee" replaces "he/she". For example:
Q: "Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?"
A: "Yee did."
"Em" replaces "him/her". For example:
Q: "Do you know who Ashley is?"
A: "I've heard of em."
Try saying these examples out loud.
These words can be used when the gender of the person isn't known or isn't relevant:
Share this page using the buttons available. Talk about this project with your friends or on your favourite websites. You can actually use the words if you wish -- that'd be great -- but you don't need to; our only goal is making the words known.
That is all.
Forcing people to use a word is an awkward and unattainable goal. Luckily, the words don't need to be commonly used for this project to be successful. Since all we want is to make the words known, the bigger the discussion, the more successful the project becomes.
Nope! Unless you want to. This project is about giving us options, not about limiting ourselves.
Yes -- sort of. Various academics and groups have been trying to do something like this for over 200 years. However, they did not have the internet, and as you know, they were not successful.
Furthermore, many or most of them were attempting to replace established words instead of simply adding new ones! That wouldn't be a reasonable goal even with the benefit of the internet.
We wanted words that sound natural, aren't easily confused with existing words, have an obvious pronunciation when written, and are compatible with existing language culture.
For instance, "it" is a word that generally refers to things that do not have personalities. Sasha Newborn's "hu" is confusing to say and spell and doesn't have an obvious pronunciation. Michael Spivak's "E" was the most elegant solution, but doesn't have an obvious pronunciation. For cultural reasons, many other words (such as those that start with 'z') sound out-of-place to many native English speakers. "They" and "them" have not succeeded at replacing their third-person singular pronouns, also sound out-of-place, and can introduce ambiguity. And so on.
The idea came from "yo," a naturally occurring word from Baltimore, a large city in the United States. While you might be familiar of its use as a synonym for "your" or "you", it became a pronoun used in all cases where the gender wasn't known (and often even in cases where it was). Due to conflicts with its existing definition and for cultural reasons, we mixed the word with Spivak's "E" to get all the benefits from both.