Thursday, January 3, 2008

Yet another meaning for "yo"

The Informed Reader (B5, subscription required) scoops Jan. 5 New Scientist, this time about linguistics. And political correctness (or lack thereof--finally! Now that would make a good major for the politically queasy...). Need I say more?

English speakers who want to avoid seeming sexist frequently struggle with the lack of a gender-neutral alternative to "he" and "she." Suggested alternatives such as "ter," "ip," "ze" or "hir" haven't caught on.

But linguists in Baltimore have found that a gender-neutral pronoun has emerged among schoolchildren there. It is "yo," as in "yo put his feet up." Their study showed this usage was different from other uses of "yo" -- as a greeting or as a synonym of "you."

Dennis Baron, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, doubts "yo" will become an established pronoun. But he said it is significant it emerged without politically correct prodding.

No comments: