AmSp article about a new gender-neutral pronoun is getting some play

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Thu Jan 3 01:06:37 UTC 2008

An article in the Fall 2007 (vol. 82, no. 3) issue of the ADS journal
"American Speech" is getting a little play.

Wall Street Journal


New Scientist

The article is "A New Gender-Neutral Pronoun in Baltimore, Maryland: A
Preliminary Study" by Elaine M. Stotko and Margaret Troyer of Johns
Hopkins University.


"This article presents data collected on the use of yo in schools in
Baltimore as a new third-person singular pronoun, as in _Yo handin’
out papers_ ‘She (the teacher) is handing out papers’ and _Peep yo_
‘Look at him’. In the spring of 2004, a number of middle and high
school teachers enrolled in a graduate linguistics class for teachers
noted that their students at certain city schools were using yo in
place of _he_ or _she_. The authors collected spontaneous occurrences
of the pronoun and then designed several writing activities and
sentence judgment tasks. The tasks were administered to more than 200
students in two unrelated schools in Baltimore. It was clear from the
results that students in these two schools use yo as a gender-neutral
third-person singular pronoun, primarily in subject position. Limited
follow-up was conducted in the spring of 2007."

Grant Barrett
Vice President of Communications and Technology
American Dialect Society
gbarrett at

The American Dialect Society -

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