Angry Tweets, angry television interviews and angry debates. It seems that the argument over pronoun use is becoming louder and angrier by the day. Now you may be wondering “Why is any of this even important?” A fair question to ask and before I attempt to answer in a step by step presentation of the facts, there are some things about me, that you the reader should understand.
I am really no one of interest, simply a lone voice presenting facts. I am a linguist as well as a social scientist, the last of a rare breed of apolitical (politically neutral) social scientists. To be objective it is necessary in order have no horse in the race so to speak. As part of linguistics I study early childhood language development which encompasses neurolinguistics along with sociolinguistics. Another point that the reader should grasp is that I believe in the greater good of all mankind, regardless of race and regardless of whether you are a male or female. I am also not particularly liked by anyone because I draw attention to faults of various Ideals. When I see untruth I must however speak out.
The last sentences have probably already triggered some individuals.
Do try to hear the arguments before you decide.
A pronoun is defined as :any member of a small class of words found in many languages that are used as replacements or substitutes for nouns and noun phrases, and that have very general reference, as I, you, he, this, who, what. Pronouns are sometimes formally distinguished from nouns, as in English by the existence of special objective forms, as him for he or me for I, and by non-occurrence with an article or adjective.
A simple definition, yet far too simple to comprehend the how pronouns are used. Pronouns interact with surrounding grammatical structures and form complex patterns that validate the semantic expression and clarify its pragmatics within the given context.
The pronoun therefore confirms the state of being in which the individual spoken of exists in regard to the context of the communication taking place.
Consider the sample sentence “She took her dog for a walk.”
It is assumed that you and I are already familiar with the person in question, hence, instead of referring to the individuals name a simple “she” is sufficient to act as in identifier of the person in question.
“Her” denotes either the state of possession of a noun or close relationship in connection with the noun, which in this case is a dog.
Take another example of “be” verbs into consideration.
These verbs are represented in English by “ am, are , is” for present tense and “was, were” for past tense. It must be clearly stated that the rules of “be” verbs are fairly complex in English and that other languages make do with fewer forms and some have more than English.
“Be” verbs interact under strict grammatical rules with pronouns. To illustrate, “She are very happy”. The native speaker of English will very quickly see an inaccuracy as the sentence is grammatically incorrect, but why is it incorrect?
It does not follow the grammatical rules which have formed over the centuries of language usage.
Here lies a conundrum in the use of alternative pronouns, they don’t follow proper grammar.
Another point that bears mentioning, is the whole “they” as a singular personal pronoun. Whoever made this argument or posed this idea in the first place is bereft of the least amount of linguistic knowledge.
Are “they, them, their” used as a singular? Yes. Are these used as singular for when the person we are speaking of is known to us? No.
“If someone comes while I am out, tell them I will be back after lunch”, clearly the person speaking does not know who is coming and therefore uses an gender neutral term.
Basically, “they, them, their” refers to an unknown category and this is the only time when it is proper to use “they, them, their” for an individual. The parameters of “they, them, their” are constant and at no time has it been used to refer to someone in first person. To imply otherwise is an outright fallacy. This recent reinvention of “they, them, their” is a clumsy attempt by non-linguists to push a certain ideology, but more on that later.
THE IDEOLOGY OF COMPELLED SPEECH
The ideology of compelled speech is extremely dangerous and often precedes catastrophes in history. Compelled speech is essentially the opposite of free speech.
Note should be taken to understand exactly what the nature of free speech is. It includes the ability to express controversial ideas freely and to debate issues that may be contentious. This gives ample space for a diverse range of opinions.
Most governments have regulations in place to prevent so called “hate speech”. The context of hate speech is designed to to prevent radicals inciting the population to violence or committing other such vile crimes. In the case of Germany, denying the Holocaust is rightly defined as hate speech and brings with it heavy penalties. The necessity of this legislation stemmed from the strong anti Semitic propaganda that had polluted the minds of the population. This propaganda as one should clearly note, was based not on a mere dislike or aversion to Jewish culture but called for the extermination of the entire group. Hate speech should therefore NOT be confused with simple disagreement or difference of opinion.
What is the point of this?
Compelled speech draws no distinction between free speech and hate speech. It classifies anything deemed controversial or potentially offensive under the same umbrella term.
Compelled speech also has a powerful propagandist effect on the population becoming a self policing totalitarian mind-set. Where plurality of opinion does not exist, those not associated with the “hive mind” are quickly identified and ostracised or worse singled out for eradication.
This type of propaganda and legislation quickly produces the atmosphere under which language can be weaponised. This was effectively introduced by Joseph Goebbels the head of propaganda in the National Socialist German Worker’s party (NAZI Party) who was instrumental in silencing all other opinions along with installing the rabid campaign against all undesirables but especially the Jews. Failure to used compelled speech in refusing to say “Heil Hitler” immediately singled one out as a free thinker that is to say, an enemy of the German race. The death toll as most would know, exceeded 8 million.
Humans are very slow in learning from history. This compelled speech was further implemented under the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics and its many children. The death toll that resulted from such propaganda campaigns is estimated at well over 40 million.
The key to the implementation of this ideology is the insidious nature by which it is introduced. Hitler did not start out by claiming that he would exterminate the Jews, rather he sought to paint them as the villains and enemies of not only the German people but all mankind which also led to the ideology of the “superior and pure” race that would be the saviour of the world. This perfect race was to be superior not only in mind-set but also in genetics. One form of propaganda led to another and supported by pseudoscience as well as lacking any counter opinion, the flames of demented bloodthirsty fervour spread like a cancer, turning previously peaceful people into murders.
Compelled speech is deadly.
What on earth, does all that have to do with pronouns?
It is ingenuously a battle for the control of your mind, the creation of a mindless spoon fed and unquestioning drone. The substitution of science and fact with pseudoscience and interpretations of self-declared moral outrage. The declaration that what is abnormal is normal.
Pronouns are grammatical constants and have never been used as a term of insult or abuse, to infer therefore that they are “offensive” is the greatest act of insult to those who truly suffer from verbal abuse on a daily basis. Any stable minded person would not equate a refusal to use a certain pronoun with hate speech, death threats or incitement to violence.
Pronouns are merely the start however. Think for a moment how one is viewed who refuses to use a pronoun out of personal belief, conscience or conviction.
Such individuals are portrayed as various types of “phobic”, extremist, small-minded or wholly ignorant simply for having a difference of opinion.
Pronoun usage is therefore a new method of classifying undesirables based on their opinions. Individuals who are adamant about alternative pronouns are often (not always) closed to any thought of debate or respectful conversation on differences in opinion. This lack of openness to dialog and demand about what others must say coincides with the compelled speech movement.
ON LINGUISTICS & GENETICS
Linguistics can however be somewhat beastly when it comes to classifications due to retaining a sense or feeling of the original word, even when a new term is coined.
Take the “trans” prefix for example. By its very use it implies that the person is not biologically a man or woman acting as a paradox for claiming that they are “real” men or women. Further pushing the agenda that this mental condition of confusion about ones gender is “natural”. Be aware that this is a play on words. “Natural” to many people equates to “normal “in that it is found in nature. Yet, natural can also be undesirable or cause abnormalities, as is the case of “naturally occurring” viruses, bacteria, parasites and genetic diseases.
“Trans” activists also often equate themselves to those who have chromosomal mutations and that they are therefore “natural” alternative forms of our species. In a television debate on the subject, Robert Tur claimed that Ben Shapiro was uneducated, however then went on to cite Klinefelter Syndrome as a defence as well as threaten violence. The scientific reality is completely different to the statements made.
People who suffer from chromosomal mutations are suffering from a very real physical ailment and are not confused as to whether they are male or female at all. In many cases, individuals only become aware of their mutation by means of tests due to the symptoms of their syndrome such as infertility. The types of chromosomal mutations are listed below.
Female (♀): 45,X (Turner’s syndrome) multiple health problems, may need human growth hormone to develop more normally.
Male (♂): 47 XXY (Klinefelter syndrome) or (KS), also known as 47 XXY or XXY. It is the set of symptoms that result from two or more X chromosomes in males.
Male (♂): 47 XYY (XYY syndrome): XYY syndrome is a genetic condition in which a male has an extra Y chromosome. Symptoms are usually few.
Female (♀): 47 XXX (XXX syndrome). Triple X syndrome, also known as trisomy X and 47 XXX, is characterized by the presence of an extra X chromosome in each cell of a female.
Male (♂): 48 XXYY (XXYY syndrome). XXYY syndrome is a sex chromosome anomaly in which males have an extra X and Y chromosome.
True intersex is extremely rare and can be life threatening especially when there is interaction between the different hormones produced in the opposing gonadal tissue. There are different types of intersex conditions with mosaic tissue usually being confined to a certain part of the body.
Female (♀) or Male (♂) dependant on disorder type: 46 XX/XY mosaic. Different types of mosaicism exist, such as gonadal mosaicism (restricted to the gametes) or tissue or somatic mosaicism.
It should be noted that the gametes are only male or female and that androgen hormones effect the way in which male and female brains form in the womb. At the time of birth sexual dimorphism is already set in accordance with chromosome sets.
The physiological differences between genders are undeniable biological facts. Attempting to pretend that such differences do not exist is merely childish
Further differences arise in the structure and mass of the brain the average weight being about 1370 g in men and about 1200 g in women (Harrison 2003, 25–34). Size does not however effect intelligence as one can note from how the structures interact and the neural connectivity in different brain regions.
It is impossible to have a female body with a male brain or visa versa.
In one Oxford study, it was shown that several sexually dimorphic characteristics are notable in the human brain.
Females were found to have “relative to cerebrum size, greater cortical grey matter volume, larger volumes of regions associated with language functions (e.g. Broca’s area) (…) and white matter involved in interhemispheric connectivity. The number of neurons per unit volume, in the planum temporal, was also greater in women than men”. The same research reported that “compared to women, men have been found to have larger volumes, relative to cerebrum size, or differences in neuronal densities in other limbic and paralimbic regions (i.e. amygdala) (…) and overall white matter volume.” (Goldstein 2001, 490- 497).
Hence, the actual predisposition for aptitude in certain skills may be greater within a certain gender based on brain structure, however, this would not define the gender as being restricted to any particular activity set, only potentially having physiological ad- vantages.
Examples of sexual dimorphism can be seen across human anatomy even as far as the mandibular ramus flexure which differs among males and females, sexual dimorphism is an undebatable fact (Loth & Henneberg 1996, 473–485). It cannot, however, be stated that any of the physiological attributes which are common to a particular gender completely define it.
Some girls for example are tomboyish and enjoy playing in mud and running around, climbing and jumping everywhere. Are these then males trapped in female bodies?
Some would argue that they are, and yet, these same people would argue a feminist point that behaviour is completely a social construct. Unfortunately one cannot argue that something is completely biological or completely socially constructed and then continue to conflate the two. Either they are linked or they are not.
Given that the sequence of DNA will continue to scream out ones real gender/sex and that stable languages structures define male or female pronouns, it cannot be considered offensive to refuse the use of a particular pronoun.
The suicide rate for “trans” people taking hormones stands at a disastrous 40% regardless of whether or not they are in an accepting environment or not. Those who have this tenancy and get proper counselling to work through their confusion have considerably lower rates of suicide.
One can liken this to a schizophrenic patient who hears voices. With the help of family and proper medication, the patient can receive the attention they need and correct or control the problem leading to a better quality of life. Telling a patient that you hear the voices too will only have a detrimental effect of mentally destabilising them further. The result on their mental and physical health can only be adverse.
Normalising the abnormal leads to this mental turmoil not being recognised as something that needs to be addressed and means that these individuals do not have support to recover. Using hormones as a first reaction is will only serve to damage already damaged brain chemistry.
The modern trend is to start hormone therapy early without sufficient research even having gone into this problem. Pertinent research is also actively being obstructed by ideologues as is the case with Professor Lisa Littman being blocked from and harassed out of fundamental research at Brown University. Children are not Guinea pigs and yet that is how these ideological groups are treating them.
Regrettably, the physiatrists who disagree with this new ideological craze such as Jordan Peterson and Gad Saad are branded as heretics of the scientific world. This labelling of “undesirables” leads to a greater vacuum of free thinking and academic freedom. In essence, squelching free speech.
Regardless of what radical ideologues may wish, biology does not bow to ideology.
ON CHILDREN AND INDOCTRINATION
Education plays a pivotal role in how children develop their understanding of the world and in what type of people they will become. Educational policies are therefore paramount to creating a generation that is of benefit to society.
Sadly, children are the main target of many radical ideologues because they have easily malleable minds and can be convinced that morally questionable or even reprehensible behaviour is normal. An example of this can be seen in children being encouraged while being sexualised in drag.
The slow process of indoctrination is being introduced into the classroom. “Boy” and “girl” are now micro-aggressions and make students feel “left out”. Now, “gender neutral” terms should be used just in case someone is “gender fluid”. If this were not preposterous enough, children are actively being taught that all matter of things are equally acceptable. Men can be women if they want to and all things are acceptable when people love one another.
This kind of indoctrination is extremely damaging to children, as they do not have the mental faculties to even take in half of the information presented to them. It further degrades their understanding of what is acceptable and puts them in greater danger of exploitation and rape by paedophiles. Even today, there are individuals actively presenting paedophilia as a genuine sexual inclination. The breakdown of social morals leads to a festering of debased ideas such as these.
There is a difference in teaching children not to do harm to others, playing nice, not bullying and indoctrinating them. These are lessons that can be applied to any situation in life. In addition, inclusion of curriculum that teaches that the basic biological family unit is non-binding is a travesty of the greatest proportions.
The overuse of gender neutral pronouns is now finding its way into the teaching of English as a second language. As if learning English was not a challenge in of itself, children now have to take in this ideology along with their language lessons.
Children are the target of ideologues for various reasons. Firstly, they lack reasoning skill as and are much influenced or coerced with greater speed than adults. They are also easier to control (Beber).
Indoctrination programs can be highly effective as is seen in the cases of the Hitler Youth program in Germany and The Youth Cult in USSR.
Both these programs were instrumental in brainwashing the next generation into unquestionably following the desired ideology.
Today is no different.
Indoctrination always has an innocent starting point.
Children are being prepared, the question is for what? Another question that begs answering is whether or not parents will wake up as to what is happening before history begins repeating itself in the vicious circle of previous generations.
Parent, do you know who is teaching your children? Do you know what your children are learning? Get to know your children, spend time with them, be patient with them, let them open their heart to you, do not let the internet or television be their teachers or moral guides.
Any teacher with even a slight degree of skill can be more than inclusive of anyone in their class regardless of race or gender and does not need policy to dictate what pronouns or ideology should be pushed in the classroom, especially with easily impressionable preteens.
All groups and individuals who are willing to use violence to further their ideals or ideologies are repulsive. All violence is deplorable, repugnant and abominable.
Using violence to counter ideas one opposes is like using Ebola to cure the plague.
Incitement to violence is equally disgusting and encouraging others to hurt fellow humans is beyond vile. Incitement to violence for mere difference in outlook, all the more reprehensible.
Today a pronoun, tomorrow a lesson on an infinity of genders and in a fortnight there is no way of knowing what will be acceptable. I speak in hyperbole yet the seriousness of this conversation is by no means less dire. Education systems are slowly being assimilated into an ideology that will produce a terrible effect on society, not just locally but globally. Education lays the groundwork for advancement or great evil when misused. This pervasive ideology is by its own structure self-destructive and merciless. It is an ideology that opposes thought, reason or understanding as espoused through free speech. It is totalitarian and fractures society by polarising it into combatant forces.
The battle for the control of your mind, the creation of a mindless spoon fed and unquestioning drone has begun. The substitution of science and fact with pseudoscience and interpretations of self-declared moral outrage. The declaration that what is abnormal is normal.
Up is down and down is up… will you accept it?
Harrison, Paul J.; Freemantle, Nick; Geddes, John R. “Meta-Analysis of Brain Weight in Schizophrenia”. Schizophrenia Research, 64 (1): 25–34.
Goldstein, J. M. et. al. “Normal Sexual Dimorphism of the Adult Human Brain Assessed by in Vivo Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” Cerebral Cortex, 11(6), 2001.
Loth, S.R. and Henneberg, M., “Mandibular Ramus Flexure: A New Morphologic Indicator of Sexual Dimorphism in the Human Skeleton.” American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 99 (3), 1996.
Beber, Blattman, Bernd, Christopher (2013). “The Logic of Child Soldiering and Coercion”. International Organization. 67 (1): 65 104. doi:10.1017/s0020818312000409.
Alaric Naudé is a professor specialising in education, linguistics and social science. He is widely recognised as having a great face for radio.