"hur": the new 3rd (and 2nd) person neutral pronoun!

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jan 23 18:05:52 UTC 2008

There is a feminine use of "hur" in the first "hur" of the following (1784):

A Welshman, lying in an ale-house, had run up a great deal for
cheese; his hostess therefore demanded a shilling. "How the devil,
cuds splutter-a-nails, can that be?" said he. "Why, look here," said
she, pointing to the score behind the door. "Ah! that's brave indeed,
said he, what doth hur think, hur doth not know chalk from cheese?"

[That is, "what does *she* think, I do not know chalk from cheese".]

And a second person singular use in (also 1784):

A Welsh drover, coming through Oxford, asked his companion, what
out-landish people they were, which he saw walking on the parade
before St. Mary's Church? The other, who was a sage in his own
country, said, "Cot's hart! cannot hur see, they are parsons 'prentices."

[That is, "cannot you see".]


At 1/23/2008 12:23 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>If the Welsh "hur" turns out to have been also used to refer to
>females, we have another candidate.  :-)
>At 1/23/2008 11:07 AM, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>>On Dennis Barron's comprehensive list of suggested epicene pronouns,
>>"e" or "E" is listed as being proposed in 1890, 1977, 1978, 1982,
>>1988, and 1989:
>>Perhaps it just needs to be reintroduced a few more times before it
>>catches on!
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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