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From: Emily Shaffer <emilyshaffer@google.com>
To: Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget <gitgitgadget@gmail.com>
Cc: git@vger.kernel.org, gitster@pobox.com,
	sandals@crustytoothpaste.net, stolee@gmail.com,
	jrnieder@gmail.com, Derrick Stolee <derrickstolee@github.com>,
	Derrick Stolee <dstolee@microsoft.com>
Subject: Re: [PATCH 4/4] CodingGuidelines: recommend singular they
Date: Tue, 8 Jun 2021 10:39:42 -0700	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <YL+rXqDMIPvA2a3+@google.com> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <d2c079264955b3bd6c3a5ef77a9c3684206f8475.1623085069.git.gitgitgadget@gmail.com>

On Mon, Jun 07, 2021 at 04:57:48PM +0000, Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget wrote:
> 
> 
> Technical writing seeks to convey information with minimal friction. One
> way that a reader can experience friction is if they encounter a
> description of "a user" that is later simplified using a gendered
> pronoun. If the reader does not consider that pronoun to apply to them,
> then they can experience cognitive dissonance that removes focus from
> the information.
> 
> If we use singular "they/them" pronouns instead of "he/him" or "she/her"
> pronouns, then we can avoid this congitive load on the reader.
> 
> Using singular "they" is also incredibly efficient. Choosing a gendered
> pronoun is usually arbitrary between "he" or "she". Using constructs
> such as "he or she", "s/he", or "(s)he" are more complicated than
> singular "they".
> 
> When choosing a gendered pronoun, that pronoun no longer applies to
> nearly half of possible readers. Even if we alternated between "he/him"
> and "she/her" perfectly evenly, we would still expect male and female
> readers to experience an incorrect pronoun half the time. However, some
> readers will not prescribe to either of these binary genders. Those
> readers hence suffer an incorrect pronoun the entire time. Singular
> "they" applies to every reader.
> 
> Perhaps due to similar reasons, official style guides have changed their
> stance on singuler "they" in recent years. For example, the APA style
> guide changed their official recommendation in 2019 [1]. The MLA
> handbook also references helpful ways to use singular "they" [2]. While
> not fully endorsing it, the Chicago Manual of Style has removed its
> blanket ban on singular "they" [3] (the previous recommendation was to
> only use "it" as a singular non-gendered pronoun).
> 
> [1] https://apastyle.apa.org/blog/singular-they
> [2] https://style.mla.org/using-singular-they/
> [3] https://libraries.indiana.edu/chicago-manual-style-singular-pronoun-they
> 
> While not all styleguides are updating their recommendations, we can
> make a choice as a project to adopt the concept because of the
> efficiencies above, as well as the benefits of increased inclusion.
> 
> To futher justify singular "they" as an acceptable grammatical concept,
> I include the careful research of brian m. carlson who collected their
> thoughts on this matter [2] (lightly edited):
> 
>   Singular "they" has been used by native English speakers as part of
>   the language for over half a millennium and is widely used and
>   understood. This usage is specified in Merriam Webster[3]:
> 
>     The use of they, their, them, and themselves as pronouns of
>     indefinite gender and indefinite number is well established in
>     speech and writing, even in literary and formal contexts.
> 
>   Wiktionary notes[4] (references omitted):
> 
>     Usage of they as a singular pronoun began in the 1300s and has been
>     common ever since, despite attempts by some grammarians, beginning
>     in 1795, to condemn it as a violation of traditional (Latinate)
>     agreement rules. Some other grammarians have countered that criticism
>     since at least 1896. Fowler's Modern English Usage (third edition)
>     notes that it "is being left unaltered by copy editors" and is "not
>     widely felt to lie in a prohibited zone." Some authors compare use of
>     singular they to widespread use of singular you instead of thou.
> 
>   Linguists fit roughly into two camps: prescriptive and descriptive.
>   The former specify rules for people to use, and the latter document
>   language as it is actually used without forming a judgment.
> 
>   Some prescriptivists think it is acceptable, and some do not. But
>   descriptivists will rightly note that it is and has been commonly
>   used in English across countries, cultures, and contexts for an
>   extended period of time and is therefore generally accepted by most
>   English speakers as a normal part of the language.  Since we are
>   writing text for an English language audience who are mostly not
>   linguists, we should probably consider using the language that most
>   people will use in this context.
> 
> [2] https://lore.kernel.org/git/YKrk4dEjEm6+48ji@camp.crustytoothpaste.net/
> [3] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/they
> [4] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/they
> 
> If we refer to a specific person, then using a gendered pronoun is
> appropriate. Examples within the Git codebase include:
> 
> * References to real people (e.g. Linus Torvalds, "the Git maintainer").
>   Do not misgender real people. If there is any doubt to the gender of a
>   person, then use singular "they".
> 
> * References to fictional people with clear genders (e.g. Alice and
>   Bob).
> 
> * Sample text used in test cases (e.g t3702, t6432).
> 
> * The official text of the GPL license contains uses of "he or she", but
>   modifying the license this way is not within the scope of the Git
>   project.
> 
> Other cases within the Git project were cleaned up by the previous
> changes.
> 
> Signed-off-by: Derrick Stolee <dstolee@microsoft.com>

Well said.
Acked-by: Emily Shaffer <emilyshaffer@google.com>

> ---
>  Documentation/CodingGuidelines | 5 +++++
>  1 file changed, 5 insertions(+)
> 
> diff --git a/Documentation/CodingGuidelines b/Documentation/CodingGuidelines
> index e3af089ecf26..78cd399f7cf5 100644
> --- a/Documentation/CodingGuidelines
> +++ b/Documentation/CodingGuidelines
> @@ -648,3 +648,8 @@ Writing Documentation:
>   inline substituted text+ instead of `monospaced literal text`, and with
>   the former, the part that should not get substituted must be
>   quoted/escaped.
> +
> + When referring to an anonymous user, use singular "they/them" pronouns
> + as opposed to choosing between "he/him" and "she/her". Do not use more
> + complicated constructs such as "he or she" or "s/he". This recommendation
> + also applies to code comments and commit messages.
> -- 
> gitgitgadget

  parent reply	other threads:[~2021-06-08 17:40 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 124+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2021-06-07 16:57 [PATCH 0/4] Use singular "they" when appropriate Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-07 16:57 ` [PATCH 1/4] Documentation: use singular they " Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-07 17:09   ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-07 17:32     ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-07 17:42       ` Andrei Rybak
2021-06-07 18:21       ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-10  7:44     ` Johannes Schindelin
2021-06-10 14:35       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-07 21:36   ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 18:47     ` Phillip Susi
2021-06-09 20:26       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-11 15:40         ` Phillip Susi
2021-06-11 17:03           ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-10 18:30       ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-11  0:16         ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-11 16:00         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-12 14:02         ` Phillip Susi
2021-06-08  1:18   ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-08  8:51     ` Kerry, Richard
2021-06-08 23:21       ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-09 13:13         ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-10  3:11         ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-08 17:33   ` Emily Shaffer
2021-06-08 18:03     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 13:44       ` Kerry, Richard
2021-06-09 17:44         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-25 14:30           ` Kerry, Richard
2021-06-09  4:48     ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-10  8:18     ` Johannes Schindelin
2021-06-10 14:42       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-14 22:10       ` Robert Karszniewicz
2021-06-07 16:57 ` [PATCH 2/4] *: use singular they in comments Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-07 17:12   ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-07 17:20     ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-10  8:20     ` Johannes Schindelin
2021-06-07 19:02   ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-07 21:44     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-08 17:36   ` Emily Shaffer
2021-06-07 16:57 ` [PATCH 3/4] *: fix typos Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-08 17:37   ` Emily Shaffer
2021-06-10  8:36   ` Johannes Schindelin
2021-06-10 19:53     ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-11  9:55       ` Johannes Schindelin
2021-06-07 16:57 ` [PATCH 4/4] CodingGuidelines: recommend singular they Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-07 18:31   ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-08  1:47     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-07 18:56   ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-07 19:05     ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-08  0:05       ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-10 21:34       ` brian m. carlson
2021-06-10  8:39     ` Johannes Schindelin
2021-06-07 20:00   ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 18:29     ` Phillip Susi
2021-06-09 20:18       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-07 20:20   ` Robert Karszniewicz
2021-06-07 22:18     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-08  7:10   ` Jeff King
2021-06-08  8:11     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 13:23       ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-09 15:20         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-10 22:06     ` brian m. carlson
2021-06-11 16:11       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-08 17:39   ` Emily Shaffer [this message]
2021-06-09  4:44     ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-09 13:27       ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-07 20:10 ` [PATCH 0/4] Use singular "they" when appropriate Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 13:54 ` [PATCH v2 " Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-09 13:54   ` [PATCH v2 1/4] Documentation: use singular they " Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-09 15:33     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 13:54   ` [PATCH v2 2/4] *: use singular they in comments Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-09 15:41     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 13:54   ` [PATCH v2 3/4] *: fix typos Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-09 13:54   ` [PATCH v2 4/4] CodingGuidelines: recommend singular they Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-09 15:50     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-09 15:44   ` [PATCH v2 0/4] Use singular "they" when appropriate Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-09 17:22     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-10  2:03     ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-10  2:28       ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-10  3:30       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-10 22:32     ` brian m. carlson
2021-06-10 22:58       ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-11 16:32         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-11 17:18         ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-11 20:38           ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-13  7:17           ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-15  6:02             ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-15 13:36               ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-15 17:03                 ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-14  0:47           ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-15 14:11   ` [PATCH v3 0/4] Avoid gendered pronouns Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-15 14:11     ` [PATCH v3 1/4] doc: avoid using the gender of other people Felipe Contreras via GitGitGadget
2021-06-15 14:11     ` [PATCH v3 2/4] comments: avoid using the gender of our users Felipe Contreras via GitGitGadget
2021-06-15 14:11     ` [PATCH v3 3/4] *: fix typos Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-15 14:11     ` [PATCH v3 4/4] CodingGuidelines: recommend singular they Derrick Stolee via GitGitGadget
2021-06-15 16:19       ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-15 17:26         ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-16  2:47         ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-16  5:06           ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-16  9:26             ` Bagas Sanjaya
2021-06-16 17:44             ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-16 19:54             ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-16 23:22               ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-17  0:09               ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-17 13:22                 ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-17 14:53                   ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-17 17:06                     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-17 15:25                   ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-18  0:26                   ` brian m. carlson
2021-06-18 16:12                     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-17 15:23                 ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-17 15:58                 ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-18  0:53               ` brian m. carlson
2021-06-18  7:24                 ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-18 16:40                   ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-19  7:03                 ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-28 22:32                   ` Junio C Hamano
2021-06-29  1:31                     ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-29  1:53                     ` Derrick Stolee
2021-06-29 12:29                       ` Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason
2021-06-17 15:12             ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-17 14:46           ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-15 17:08       ` Felipe Contreras
2021-06-12  4:40 ` [PATCH 0/4] Use singular "they" when appropriate Bagas Sanjaya
2021-06-12 14:19   ` Phillip Susi

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