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Night Out 1/21

Night Out 1/21 published on 6 Comments on Night Out 1/21

Hey, look, it’s the first time Juniper being agender has come up in-strip.

The cute bar guy’s name is Florian, mostly because I want to be able to tag for him with something nicer than “Cute Bar Guy.”


Birch: Ahh, to kick back and have a bros’ night on the town!

*”Bros”=veeery loose translation. The Ceannic word covers all non-women.

Thorn: Thanks for inviting us out, Birch.

Birch: Don’t mention it!

Anything for my favorite, trusted teammates: you . . . Juniper . . . Rowan . . . and, uh . . .

do we know that guy?

Rowan: I picked him up at the bar! Isn’t he cute?

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Why does Ceannic have a word that means “people of all genders EXCEPT female”? Is there a corresponding “people of all genders except male”? Also, what are Juniper’s pronouns?

1) They have a more-precise gender vocabulary than English across the board. Or rather, English does have the word “non-women”, but it sounds exclusionary, and it’s easy to use in a way that sounds like you’re sneering at women. Birch here is using a warm, inclusive Ceannic word.

2) Yes indeed! Though I haven’t decided how to render it yet. “Babes”? “Gals”?

3) Juniper uses singular they/them, the most popular gender-neutral pronoun in Ceannic. If they had grown up speaking Sønska, the plural doesn’t pull double duty, so they would’ve used the well-established natural-sounding singular pronoun. Probably gonna render it as ze/zir. The whole thing is a common stumbling block for translations. (Leif: “Hang on, Sir Juniper is more than one person? I had no idea!”)

heh heh this is gonna be fun. Speaking of which, did you hear “they” is the American Dialect Society’s word of the year for 2015?

I would never want someone to use “they” to refer to me. To me it reads like it’s subordinating the individual identity to the group identity of “non-binary;” I have enough minority identities to juggle without having one try to assimilate me into a collective. Not to mention it makes me feel like everyone’s just given up on getting a proper set of pronouns because we just don’t matter enough to deserve them; and broad adoption of “they” because it’s “easier” for other people to grasp even if they don’t understand the non-binary thing just means that it’ll be much harder switch later. It feels gross and dehumanizing; every bit as bad as “it.” Honestly this is probably almost the entire reason I still use female pronouns.

I also hate it just as a writer/reader, because it can be legitimately confusing at times.

I have met several people over the last few years who prefer they, either as a permanent identity or as a temporary state during their transitions, and I recommend you seek out people with this preference to gain an understanding of their perspective. It’s not simply that “they” is easier for us cis-people to grasp, or that anybody’s given up or given in; it’s that there really are people who feel that “they” describes them better than any other nominative pronoun.

As for confusing pronouns, have you ever written a story in which the majority of characters shared a gender? “He….he”, “she…she”, and even “you…you…you” are just as confusing in my experience as “they…they.” It’s really only totally unambiguous if everyone in your story uses different pronouns, which would be a pain to keep track of.

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