One (was: Re: Oops...

brownt1 at brownt1 at
Mon Feb 8 19:24:59 EST 1993

In article <1kumgiINNt4a at senator-bedfellow.MIT.EDU>, (Erika L Jonietz) writes:
> professions, etc.  May I make a suggestion as to a possible alternative to "he"
> or "she" or "s/he" or "she or he"?  "It" is horrible in my book,
> (OPINION! OPINION!) How about the neglected pronoun "one"?  There seems to be an 
> aversion to the use of this pronoun in the US, but I think the British use it 
> frequently, and it has freely been used in some languages to refer to
> gender-unspecific persons, for instance, the German "man" (pronounced "mahn", 
> meaning "one".)  Granted, this word clearly derives from the German "Mann", 
> meaning one of the male gender, but the English "one" has no such connotations.

I was going to reply to this, rather than followup, but this newsreader 
can't seem to interpret your address.  A shame, because if this had been 
email I would have been able to say I agree completely with your opinion 
of all that PC cr, er, stuff, without worrying about getting flamed by the 
PC police :-)

I'm a supporter of "it" personally, but either way, i don't think you can 
use "one".  It's a sort of bizarre 'pleural personal pronoun'.  I doubt 
you'd ever hear anyone say "A scientist applied for funding, but one 
didn't get it because..." unless you were really talking about yourself, 
or the person you were talking to (of course in that particular case you
could leave the pronoun out altogether).  I also think its usage has vague
class connotations in England.  Generally i think it replaces i/me or you
rather than he or she.  Also remember the Germans assign young women
(madchen? no that doesn't look right, whatever) the neuter genter, and
turnips the feminine gender (possibly depending on the tense, and maybe
the way the winds blowing too :-) 

Cheers -tb
     Terry Brown, INTERNET brownt1 at, 
                  UUCP     tb at,
                  /earth is 98% full ... please delete anyone you can.

More information about the Womenbio mailing list