[Feature Request] "they/them" changed to "they/them (plural)"

Hello. I’m nonbinary and use they and them as singular pronouns. (In English, singular “they” came before singular “you”.) Other plural pronouns in the course have (plural) after them in English to demarcate them as such. Every time I encounter “they/them” I have to stop and think a moment, and every time I get a little sad and a little frustrated that you haven’t added “(plural)” to the end.

Could you please add the text “(plural)” after “they/them”? I’m not asking for you to even include whatever a nonbinary singular they would be in Mandarin—I have no idea if that’s a thing yet. I’m just asking for this little demarcation that will help not just me but a lot of people (especially younger people) for whom “they” is not plural in all cases. Thanks.

Hello @jtth and welcome to the forum!

Is this about this course here?

Yes, though I imagine it applies to many courses.

A post was merged into an existing topic: [Course Forum] Mandarin Chinese 1-3 by Memrise

OK. I’ve copied/moved your posting to the course’s official thread (see the link above) which is where Memrise staff should be reading your posting.

Out of interest: how can “they/them” be a singular pronoun (or when was it)?
I’m not a native speaker (although I [had to]read MacBeth et al back in school), but that does sound completely unfamiliar to me, even considering all that thou and thee and the such …
To me, they and them is always plural, so I wouldn’t need any further hint, but I might be totally off, of course.

You can learn more about singular they here: A brief history of singular ‘they’ | Oxford English Dictionary

It has always been singular. It’s a non-gendered animate pronoun. I am nonbinary, which means I am not a man nor a woman, so when people refer to me, or when I refer to myself in the third person, “they” is the correct pronoun. So when I see it as implicitly plural in the course that is both technically wrong (especially when such a demarcation exists for “you”) and personally frustrating, because it delegitimizes nonbinary people in the assumptions of its scope.

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Thank you!

I’m a native American English speaker in his 60s. In my lifetime, “they” and “them” have always been plural in standard American book, newspaper, and broadcast English.

Admittedly (also in my lifetime), I have often heard “they” used colloquially when referring to one person, even before the concerns and requests of binary and trans people became more prominent in our public discussions.

However, I’m completely on-board with respecting other people’s preferred pronouns, for the sake of politeness and mutual respect and conviviality, especially if they make allowances for other people while the rest of us get used to the idea.

(But if I ever catch anyone referring to me as anything other than “xul/xum” behind my back, there may be a price to pay! :wink: )

I think it’s unlikely that people in more conservative states and communities in the USA would ever refer to the OED to refine their speech while crafting their utterances. However, in the South it used to be that people would say “y’all” for second-person plural.

I wonder if the OP had considered that people in more conservative Chinese-speaking regions and communities in SE Asia might be resistant to a similar request to modify their language?

Also, when it comes to Chinese (Zhong-wen or Han-yu), when would it ever be difficult to distinguish between “ta1” (singular) and “ta1-men” (plural)?

Speaking as a patchy language learner since my teens, hasn’t it always been the case that sometimes the interpretation of sounds or symbols might require a little pause for thought or consideration of either the context or intention, or both?

It could even be considered quite a source of wonderment that humans can even communicate at all in our variety of languages, which are quite a step up in complexity from the sounds that cats and dogs make to express themselves.

It might cheer the OP and other non-binary Chinese learners that in some of the less conservative cities in SE Asia, recently there has been a proposal for a fourth written variation of “ta1”: