It has also been suggested that the pronominal expression he or she should be replaced by she or he.
The feminist movement in America also influenced the rules of noun-pronoun agreement. As a result of that feminist influence many people now use the plural pronouns they /their/themselves in place of him /his/himself in sentences like the following: Everyone must submit their assignment by tomorrow. Every student must collect their identity card today. As a result of the feminist movement many organizations issued guidelines about how best their members could avoid using sexist language.
The following are extracts from the guidelines issued in this connection by the Linguistic Society of America to its members. Avoid so-called masculine generics such as the pronoun he with sex-indefinite antecedents or man and its compounds (except in unambiguous reference to males). Use parallel forms of reference for women and men, e.g.
, do not cite a male scholar by surname only and a female scholar by first name plus surname. Avoid consistently putting reference to males before reference to females. Avoid sexist (or otherwise derogatory) content in examples (e.g.
, The man who beats his mistress will regret it sooner than the man who beats his wife). Guidelines like these created a sharp awareness all over the world, particularly in the USA and as a result there was a steep decline in the sexist use of English. The tremendous impact of this movement can be estimated on the basis of the following extract taken from Crystal’s Encyclopaedia of English Language: One study compared the frequency with which such forms as he and man were used in half a million words of American English between 1971 and 1979: the frequency fell from around 12 per 5,000 words to around 4 per 5,000 words during that period.
Women’s magazines showed the steepest decline, followed by science magazines, with newspapers further behind and congressional records last of all.