Of all the changes coming to The Chicago Manual of Style this September, I’m the most pleased about the fact the provisions will be made for genderless grammar.
Now, to non-word-geek-types, this might seem like some kind of civil rights issue. And though on some levels it might be, where it impacts most everyone is when writing about a group.
Most recently, this was irksome for me during my time as Publisher at Self-Counsel Press where the party line was for language that was “inclusive.” So you couldn’t say something like, “When the subject checks his luggage, he’d better make sure the tags are in place” because that’s not gender inclusive. You’d have to say “When a subject checks his or her luggage, he or she had better make sure…” etc. Genderless grammar gives us all permission to use “they” so that we can now have: “When they check their luggage, they’d better make sure, etc.”
OK: it’s true. There are larger issues in the world. Distressingly, quite a few of them. But tonight I can go to bed happy knowing that language for groups will now be much more elegant. (Email and internet, though, I might never get used to.)
See more about the new Chicago Manual of Style here.