"His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy

21 Jul 2009 - 2:47pm
3 years ago
55 replies
2388 reads
Christopher Rider
2009

Howdy,

I'm working on a website targeted primarily at women. In several places we
need to ask for information about the user's significant other. 80%+ of our
visitors are straight women, but we do get the occasional man (gay or
straight) or gay woman.
The team is debating which pronoun to use in field labels - e.g. "Their
Birthday" or "His/Her Birthday". The site has a pretty relaxed/informal
tone, so we're leaning heavily toward "their", but we thought the list might
have some opinions to share.

Thoughts?
--
Chris Rider
cjrider at gmail.com

Comments

21 Jul 2009 - 3:20pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

Their, definitely.
His/Her just throws the differential in the alternate's face; it just
solidifies that they are fringe.
'Their' is MUCH better.

</psych major>

On Jul 21, 2009, at 12:47 PM, Christopher Rider wrote:

> Howdy,
>
> I'm working on a website targeted primarily at women. In several
> places we
> need to ask for information about the user's significant other. 80%+
> of our
> visitors are straight women, but we do get the occasional man (gay or
> straight) or gay woman.
> The team is debating which pronoun to use in field labels - e.g.
> "Their
> Birthday" or "His/Her Birthday". The site has a pretty relaxed/
> informal
> tone, so we're leaning heavily toward "their", but we thought the
> list might
> have some opinions to share.
>

21 Jul 2009 - 3:42pm
Anonymous

Their.
Much easier to read.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 3:44pm
Adam Lerner
2009

Not to be "that guy", but isn't there some concern about choosing
the option that is flat-out grammatically incorrect? "Their" is
certainly smoother sounding in spoken language, but I'm not sure how
happy I would be with my brand's copy being "wrong".

Just a thought.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 3:46pm
Anonymous

Definitely "their".

Did you consider "Your partner's birthday" or even "Partner's
birthday"?

Suze Ingram
User Experience Consultant

suze [dot] ingram [at] gmail.com
@suzeingram
http://suzeingram.blogspot.com/
http://www.linkedin.com/in/suzeingram

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 3:44pm
Sarah Weise
2009

"Their" implies multiple partners (and multiple birthdays). Plus,
it's grammatically incorrect.

Could you say "Your significant other's birthday:" as a
compromise?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 3:50pm
Mike Myles
2009

I'd be strongly inclined to use their over his/her. It's become a
fairly accepted approach (though some certainly object to it).

Here is a related Wikipedia entry on the "singular they" -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 3:58pm
mgreen49
2007

Although my internal nun is scowling at me, I'd have to agree with
Mike. It's certainly accepted in everyday speech and the language
needs such a term.

I think "youse" would be a harder sell (except in Philly).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 4:01pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Here is a related Wikipedia entry on the "singular they" -
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
>

Wikipedia is hardly a reliable source for grammar expertise. Don't make me
send Grammar Girl after you.

"Their" is grammatically incorrect when used to refer to a single person.
Consider rewriting the sentence all together.

In my books, I consistently interchanged "he" and "she" to encourage the
reader to visualize an actual person without giving favor to either gender.

-r-

21 Jul 2009 - 4:22pm
gretchen anderson
2005

People always get irritated about nouns becoming verbs and yet we all
"google" things.

Language lives! Evolve! Their! Theirs! ;)

That's how your friends would talk, no?

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Mark Green
Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 6:58 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy

Although my internal nun is scowling at me, I'd have to agree with
Mike. It's certainly accepted in everyday speech and the language
needs such a term.

I think "youse" would be a harder sell (except in Philly).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

21 Jul 2009 - 4:23pm
Mike Myles
2009

One may say that the use of the singular they is not universally
accepted, but to state that it's blatantly incorrect ignores the
flexibility and ever changing nature of the English language. It's
more commonly accepted by speakers of British English - who
incidentally adopted the title prefix "Ms" long before those in the
colonies.

I suspect the trend to using the singular they will continue despite
the best efforts of language police, because it's useful, effective,
and serves a purpose.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 4:26pm
jayeffvee
2007

How about a direct, 2nd person approach like "Your partner's birthday?"

I'm w/ Robert - rephrase and be correct.

Awesome that you have an internal nun, Mark.

;-)

On Jul 21, 2009, at 5:22 PM, Gretchen Anderson wrote:

> People always get irritated about nouns becoming verbs and yet we all
> "google" things.
>
> Language lives! Evolve! Their! Theirs! ;)
>
> That's how your friends would talk, no?
--------

Wikipedia is hardly a reliable source for grammar expertise. Don't
make me
send Grammar Girl after you.

"Their" is grammatically incorrect when used to refer to a single
person.
Consider rewriting the sentence all together.

In my books, I consistently interchanged "he" and "she" to encourage the
reader to visualize an actual person without giving favor to either
gender.

-r-

---------
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> Mark Green
> Sent: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 6:58 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy
>
> Although my internal nun is scowling at me, I'd have to agree with
> Mike. It's certainly accepted in everyday speech and the language
> needs such a term.
>
> I think "youse" would be a harder sell (except in Philly).
>
>

Joan Vermette
email: jayeffvee at mac.com
primary phone: 617-495-0184

21 Jul 2009 - 4:31pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

I'd rant about ignoring the grammarians and there are far more
authoritative sources for the singular "they", ...

BUT, I don't think either is the best choice and agree with
reframing to "Your [partner's/lover's/special someone's]
birthday". If you're trying to be casual, then be that and fun.
Think about how women talk about these things with each other. Use
language that makes them think about the relationship and not about
form-filling.

Mini-rant: It's interesting that so many of us gripe about grammar
lessons in school, then want to enforce it in places like this,
calling things "wrong" and "ungrammatical". And at the same time
we talk about designing for people. People communicate. In all
different ways. Changing according to context and communication
partners. The true wrongs are believing that there is only one right
and focusing on structure over meaning.

Phillip
phillip at design-outloud.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 4:32pm
Becubed
2004

> The team is debating which pronoun to use in field labels - e.g. "Their
> Birthday" or "His/Her Birthday".

If we're talking specifically about field labels, consider dropping the
pronoun entirely: "Birthday".

This should work fine if the context for the overall form is clear. For
instance, you don't often see "Your email address", "Your phone number",
etc. on registration fields -- because it's clear *whose* information is
being requested. Same might apply for your situation.

BBB

21 Jul 2009 - 4:35pm
Jarrod Lombardo
2008

"""Using the plural pronoun to refer to a single person of
unspecified gender is an old and honorable pattern in English, not a
newfangled bit of degeneracy or a politically correct plot to avoid
sexism (though it often serves the latter purpose). People who insist
that %u201CEveryone has brought his own lunch%u201D is the only
correct form do not reflect the usage of centuries of fine writers. A
good general rule is that only when the singular noun does not specify
an individual can it be replaced plausibly with a plural pronoun:
%u201CEverybody%u201D is a good example. We know that
%u201Ceverybody%u201D is singular because we say %u201Ceverybody is
here,%u201C not %u201Ceverybody are here%u201D yet we tend to think
of %u201Ceverybody%u201D as a group of individuals, so we usually say
%u201Ceverybody brought their own grievances to the bargaining
table.%u201D %u201CAnybody%u201D is treated similarly.

However, in many written sentences the use of singular
%u201Ctheir%u201D and %u201Cthey%u201D creates an irritating clash
even when it passes unnoticed in speech. It is wise to shun this
popular pattern in formal writing. Often expressions can be
pluralized to make the %u201Cthey%u201D or %u201Ctheir%u201D
indisputably proper: %u201CAll of them have brought their own
lunches.%u201D %u201CPeople%u201D can often be substituted for
%u201Ceach.%u201D Americans seldom avail themselves of the otherwise
very handy British %u201Cone%u201D to avoid specifying gender because
it sounds to our ears rather pretentious: %u201COne%u2019s hound
should retrieve only one%u2019s own grouse.%u201D If you decide to
try %u201Cone,%u201D don%u2019t switch to %u201Cthey%u201D in
mid-sentence: %u201COne has to be careful about how they speak%u201D
sounds absurd because the word %u201Cone%u201D so emphatically calls
attention to its singleness. The British also quite sensibly treat
collective bodies like governmental units and corporations as plural
(%u201CParliament have approved their agenda%u201D) whereas Americans
insist on treating them as singular."""

From: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 4:37pm
Christian Crumlish
2006

The singular/indeterminate "their" is attested in English as far back as
modern English goes. We all innately understand this but fight against it
because of our medieval grammarian influence (usually anxious about things
that weren't parallel to Latin - hence our predicate nominative after the
verb "to be.")

--former copyeditor

--
Christian Crumlish
I'm writing a book so please forgive any lag
http://designingsocialinterfaces.com

21 Jul 2009 - 4:37pm
EngageMotion
2008

Phillip,

Think of grammar as standardization and enforcement of consistency.
There is a right time to "rebel" against grammar rules, just as
there is to rebel against "consistency". The key is knowing when to
break the rules.

Your post, for instance, was *very* hard to read since you scattered
it with fragmented sentences. Maybe you were trying to prove a point?
;-)

CV

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 4:38pm
asbjorn
2009

As mentioned a couple of times already, I think "Your partner" is
direct, neutral yet kind of personal, and appropriate.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

21 Jul 2009 - 4:07pm
Corn Walker
2008

On Jul 21, 2009, at 9:44 AM, Sarah Weise wrote:

> "Their" implies multiple partners (and multiple birthdays). Plus,
> it's grammatically incorrect.

Not so fast... grammar is actually subjective and fluid. Specifically
for this instance the following is a pretty interesting read.

<http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/he-they-generic-personal-pronoun.aspx
>

Cheers,
-corn

Corn Walker
The Proof Group
http://proofgroup.com/

21 Jul 2009 - 5:43pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> People always get irritated about nouns becoming verbs and yet we all
> "google" things.
>
> Language lives! Evolve! Their! Theirs! ;)
>

I'm all for the evolution of language, and yes, nouns become verbs
frequently these days, but in this case, you're talking about making a
plural form singular. It's the equivalent of referring to a single Google
employee as "Googlers".

-r-

21 Jul 2009 - 5:45pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> How about a direct, 2nd person approach like "Your partner's birthday?"
>

*Excellent* suggestion.

-r-

21 Jul 2009 - 5:47pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Mini-rant: It's interesting that so many of us gripe about grammar
> lessons in school, then want to enforce it in places like this,
> calling things "wrong" and "ungrammatical". And at the same time
> we talk about designing for people. People communicate. In all
> different ways.

It's also interesting that you just said people gripe about incorrect
grammar, but that we should be OK with using it. The people who use our
sites gripe about incorrect grammar as well.

-r-

21 Jul 2009 - 5:47pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

No, I think what we're talking about is admitting the homonym.
Straight up Steven Pinker:
http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/books/tli/index.html

On Jul 21, 2009, at 3:43 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr wrote:

>>
>> People always get irritated about nouns becoming verbs and yet we all
>> "google" things.
>>
>> Language lives! Evolve! Their! Theirs! ;)
>>
>
> I'm all for the evolution of language, and yes, nouns become verbs
> frequently these days, but in this case, you're talking about making a
> plural form singular. It's the equivalent of referring to a single
> Google
> employee as "Googlers".
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

21 Jul 2009 - 7:09pm
Christian Crumlish
2006

On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 3:43 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:

> >
>
> I'm all for the evolution of language, and yes, nouns become verbs
> frequently these days, but in this case, you're talking about making a
> plural form singular. It's the equivalent of referring to a single Google
> employee as "Googlers".
>

Is a plural form becoming used for singular cases somehow an impermissible
form of evolution?
How about Sie in German?

Everybody has their pet rules, often learned in school ("do not split
infinitives") and it can be disorienting to learn that said rules may be
based on a misconception, or may have no force of authority.

-x-

--
Christian Crumlish
I'm writing a book so please forgive any lag
http://designingsocialinterfaces.com

21 Jul 2009 - 7:22pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Is a plural form becoming used for singular cases somehow an impermissible
> form of evolution?
>

Just pointing out that it's significantly less common. I actually can't
think of any examples of this happening in English. I'm not sure your German
example counts — we're not talking about German grammar.

-r-

21 Jul 2009 - 7:29pm
Christian Crumlish
2006

On Tue, Jul 21, 2009 at 5:22 PM, Robert Hoekman Jr <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:

> Is a plural form becoming used for singular cases somehow an impermissible
>> form of evolution?
>>
>
> Just pointing out that it's significantly less common.
>

Really? Because it sounded to me like you were stating some abolute rules
with neither credible citations nor a sophisticated theory of linguistic
evolution behind them.

Also, it's less common, sure. So what?

> I actually can't think of any examples of this happening in English.
>

How about "you"? We don't say thee and thou for singular "you" anymore, we
use the "plural" word for them instead (and we also lost the polite vs.
familiar distinction).

> I'm not sure your German example counts — we're not talking about German
> grammar.
>

Is that right? Thanks for clarifying that! Please keep informing me of which
degrees of likeness and analogy are permissible in this conversation and
which are offending your delicate sensibilities.

-x-

--
Christian Crumlish
I'm writing a book so please forgive any lag
http://designingsocialinterfaces.com

21 Jul 2009 - 9:57pm
cfmdesigns
2004

Any way to get the gender of the person being targetted (the birthday
person) and provide the right pronoun?

You still have the issue where they can't/won't tell, but you can be
better excused in that case for whatever way you go.

-- Jim
Via my iPhone

On Jul 21, 2009, at 1:46 PM, suze ingram <suze.ingram at gmail.com> wrote:

> Definitely "their".
>
> Did you consider "Your partner's birthday" or even "Partner's
> birthday"?
>
>
> Suze Ingram
> User Experience Consultant
>
> suze [dot] ingram [at] gmail.com
> @suzeingram
> http://suzeingram.blogspot.com/
> http://www.linkedin.com/in/suzeingram
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

22 Jul 2009 - 12:02am
Phillip Hunter
2006

CV,

Thanks. I've made my living from adaptive verbal and written
language communication for 15 years, so I think I've got a fairly
good handle on the place of grammar. It is indeed used for
consistency in part, but not in the way that most people think about
it. Grammar is an internal mechanism of language evident from
studying the actual use of it. Yet often we describe and talk about
externally created rules, as if someone needed to decide that we
weren't very good at this communication thing, despite a few
thousand years of forward progress.

The main "rule" brought up in this discussion actually is based not
on true grammar that is born of how people communicate. Like others,
it is from social engineering attempts to enforce class distinctions.
So, while much of the time I agree that knowing rules and when to
break them is a good thing, first one must know that the rules are
valid. In this case, it is not.

If you are interested in seeing what language scholars think about
all this, I invite you to visit the fine folks at UPenn:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/

Incidentally, I was not trying to prove a point with my sentence
fragments, though I was certainly using a style that gives emphasis.
Sorry it was hard to read for you. As you say, sometimes it is a
choice to go against the rule. In this case, I opted for more
emphatic versus straightforward structure.

All the best,
Phillip

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

22 Jul 2009 - 3:23am
William Hudson
2009

Chris -

'They' and 'their' are increasingly popular as singular personal
pronouns. There is even a Wikipedia page on the subject (so it must be
true<g>) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

Certainly 'they' and 'their' are much less clumsy than 'he or she' and
'his or her'.

Regards,

William Hudson
Syntagm Ltd
Design for Usability
UK 01235-522859
World +44-1235-522859
US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
mailto:william.hudson at syntagm.co.uk
http://www.syntagm.co.uk
skype:williamhudsonskype

Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road, Abingdon
OX14 2DS.

Confused about dates in interaction design? See our new study (free):
http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/datesstudy.htm

12 UK mobile phone e-commerce sites compared! Buy the report:
http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/uxbench.shtml

Courses in card sorting and Ajax interaction design. London, Las Vegas
and Berlin:
http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/csadvances.shtml
http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/ajaxdesign.shtml

> -----Original Message-----
> From: new-bounces at ixda.org [mailto:new-bounces at ixda.org] On Behalf Of
> Christopher Rider
> Sent: 21 July 2009 13:48
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] "His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy
>
...

22 Jul 2009 - 8:20am
Frank Siraguso
2008

Here's how I rationalize the "their" idiom: he she makes it
plural and, thus, their. It's still wrong. My inner nun says to
translate it into Latin and see how it works. (Or choose any other
language besides English, say, Russian or Japanese.) And partner
seems so cold, while significant other seems so mid-70s. Arrgh.

In short, just rewrite the damn thing.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

22 Jul 2009 - 11:36am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> Just pointing out that it's significantly less common.
>>
>
> Really? Because it sounded to me like you were stating some abolute rules
> with neither credible citations nor a sophisticated theory of linguistic
> evolution behind them.
>

Not at all. Sorry if it appeared that way. But please, let's not assume the
worst of each other, eh?

I'm not sure your German example counts — we're not talking about German
>> grammar.
>>
>
> Is that right? Thanks for clarifying that! Please keep informing me of
> which degrees of likeness and analogy are permissible in this conversation
> and which are offending your delicate sensibilities.
>

Seriously, Christian?

Look, I simply pointed out that we're not talking about German grammar.
German is very different than English, and as such, I'm not sure that a
German example really helps the argument in this case. What exactly was so
offensive about that?

-r-

22 Jul 2009 - 12:18pm
Katie Albers
2005

When you've got this kind of question, it's usually best to start by
reconsidering the way you've cast the whole thing. Can you put the
info into two separate boxes (or otherwise divide them?). Then you
have the section where you ask for the person's data and the section
where you ask for the spouse/partner's data. Include gender in both
areas (which, incidentally, is *not* binary -- I suggest using male/
female/self-identifies as: with a text box for the last) if it matters
to you at all, and have the user select spouse/partner/other for the
second set of data. Then, under that goes the same set of queries as
for the primary user with no his/her/their problem to be found.

Does that help?

Katie Albers
User Experience Consultant & Project Manager
katie at firstthought.com
310 356 7550

On Jul 22, 2009, at 3:23 AM, William Hudson wrote:

> Chris -
>
> 'They' and 'their' are increasingly popular as singular personal
> pronouns. There is even a Wikipedia page on the subject (so it must be
> true<g>) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
>
> Certainly 'they' and 'their' are much less clumsy than 'he or she' and
> 'his or her'.
>
> Regards,
>
> William Hudson
> Syntagm Ltd
> Design for Usability
> UK 01235-522859
> World +44-1235-522859
> US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
> mailto:william.hudson at syntagm.co.uk
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk
> skype:williamhudsonskype
>
> Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
> Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road,
> Abingdon
> OX14 2DS.
>
> Confused about dates in interaction design? See our new study (free):
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/datesstudy.htm
>
> 12 UK mobile phone e-commerce sites compared! Buy the report:
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/uxbench.shtml
>
> Courses in card sorting and Ajax interaction design. London, Las Vegas
> and Berlin:
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/csadvances.shtml
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/ajaxdesign.shtml
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: new-bounces at ixda.org [mailto:new-bounces at ixda.org] On Behalf Of
>> Christopher Rider
>> Sent: 21 July 2009 13:48
>> To: discuss at ixda.org
>> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] "His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy
>>
> ...
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

22 Jul 2009 - 12:24pm
pyces
2007

Building on that idea, you could have the label change to His Birthday
if the person selects that the SO is a male, Her Birthday if selects
that SO is a female. Not sure though what you would do with the
Self-Identifies As, maybe Other with a Their Birthday label (course,
then we get back to that again :), but it would be for a fringe case -
since I believe you already identified that 80% of your market is
straight women.) Don't get too hung trying to design for a rare fringe
case and risk alienating your main audience.

Good luck.

Courtney Jordan

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Katie Albers
Sent: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 1:19 PM
To: IxDA
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] "His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy

When you've got this kind of question, it's usually best to start by
reconsidering the way you've cast the whole thing. Can you put the info
into two separate boxes (or otherwise divide them?). Then you have the
section where you ask for the person's data and the section where you
ask for the spouse/partner's data. Include gender in both areas (which,
incidentally, is *not* binary -- I suggest using male/
female/self-identifies as: with a text box for the last) if it matters
to you at all, and have the user select spouse/partner/other for the
second set of data. Then, under that goes the same set of queries as for
the primary user with no his/her/their problem to be found.

Does that help?

Katie Albers
User Experience Consultant & Project Manager katie at firstthought.com 310
356 7550

On Jul 22, 2009, at 3:23 AM, William Hudson wrote:

> Chris -
>
> 'They' and 'their' are increasingly popular as singular personal
> pronouns. There is even a Wikipedia page on the subject (so it must be
> true<g>) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
>
> Certainly 'they' and 'their' are much less clumsy than 'he or she' and

> 'his or her'.
>
> Regards,
>
> William Hudson
> Syntagm Ltd
> Design for Usability
> UK 01235-522859
> World +44-1235-522859
> US Toll Free 1-866-SYNTAGM
> mailto:william.hudson at syntagm.co.uk
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk
> skype:williamhudsonskype
>
> Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
> Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road,
> Abingdon
> OX14 2DS.
>
> Confused about dates in interaction design? See our new study (free):
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/datesstudy.htm
>
> 12 UK mobile phone e-commerce sites compared! Buy the report:
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/uxbench.shtml
>
> Courses in card sorting and Ajax interaction design. London, Las Vegas

> and Berlin:
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/csadvances.shtml
> http://www.syntagm.co.uk/design/ajaxdesign.shtml
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: new-bounces at ixda.org [mailto:new-bounces at ixda.org] On Behalf Of

>> Christopher Rider
>> Sent: 21 July 2009 13:48
>> To: discuss at ixda.org
>> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] "His/Her" vs. "Their" in website copy
>>
> ...
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org Unsubscribe
> ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe List Guidelines
> ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines List Help
> .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org Unsubscribe
................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe List Guidelines
............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines List Help ..................
http://www.ixda.org/help

22 Jul 2009 - 12:44pm
Marc Rettig
2004

I've often wanted to build a form with gender input as a slider rather than
radio buttons.

22 Jul 2009 - 1:00pm
Caroline Jarrett
2007

Marc Rettig
>
> I've often wanted to build a form with gender input as a slider rather
than radio buttons.

You might enjoy this t-shirt:
http://nopitycity.com/shirts/gender-malefemaleother

Cheers
Caroline Jarrett
"Forms that work: Designing web forms for usability" www.formsthatwork.com

22 Jul 2009 - 1:06pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 22 Jul 2009, at 19:00, Caroline Jarrett wrote:

> Marc Rettig
>>
>> I've often wanted to build a form with gender input as a slider
>> rather
> than radio buttons.
>
>
> You might enjoy this t-shirt:
> http://nopitycity.com/shirts/gender-malefemaleother

There were some fascinating discussions over in the freebase community
over gender classification (which is, I think, still just male/female/
other over there.) I'm sure Google could dig them out.

Cheers,

Adrian

--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

22 Jul 2009 - 10:05am
marianogoren
2009

Their

Great thoughts here!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

22 Jul 2009 - 7:04pm
Chauncey Wilson
2007

This is a good debate and both sides have some good points. Language
does evolve of course, but the results of evolution might be good or
bad. I might have missed a few of the messages, but I'm curious about
the distribution of reactions of users who read the constructions that
we are discussing. Personally, I still like "data are" and I will
edit constructions like "the user ..... they" but what are the
reactions of the people reading these constructions. Do those users
who follow "traditional" rules of grammar consider the
writer/designers sloppy? There was a web survey some time ago about
the impact of a typo on credibility and it did result in a drop in
credibility.

Chauncey

On Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 4:05 AM, Mariano<mariano at icograma.com> wrote:
> Their
>
> Great thoughts here!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

22 Jul 2009 - 7:40pm
Adam Lerner
2009

Chauncey, you did a much better job at articulating what I was getting
at in my post. Of course (as has already been pointed out) the
audience matters but I worry about things like credibility and brand
image. I'd hate to give site users reason to question the site
sponsor's knowledge of grammar. I guess I am expecting the visitor
to expect the subject-pronoun agreement to be a formal rule.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

22 Jul 2009 - 7:53pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

Just as I would expect the visitor to know Pinker's homonym
contribution to language cognition. ;)
aka
"There's too many theirs there!"

On Jul 22, 2009, at 5:40 PM, Adam Lerner wrote:

> Chauncey, you did a much better job at articulating what I was getting
> at in my post. Of course (as has already been pointed out) the
> audience matters but I worry about things like credibility and brand
> image. I'd hate to give site users reason to question the site
> sponsor's knowledge of grammar. I guess I am expecting the visitor
> to expect the subject-pronoun agreement to be a formal rule.

22 Jul 2009 - 11:05pm
Alicia Nachman
2009

Robert - funny you should mention Grammar Girl. I remember an
interesting podcast she did on this topic. Her takeaway:

"So here's the bottom line: Rewrite your sentences to avoid the
problem. If that's not possible, check to see if the people you are
writing for have a style guide. If not, use he or she if you want to
play it safe, or use they if you feel bold and are prepared to defend
yourself."

Article here:
http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/he-they-generic-personal-pronoun.aspx

Cheers,
Alicia

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

23 Jul 2009 - 10:47am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

For a mailing list that hates discussions about semantics, this thread
is quite long.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

23 Jul 2009 - 11:22am
Katie Albers
2005

Except that this isn't about semantics. It's about usage and grammar.

kt
who's sorry - but that opportunity was just too good to let it pass by

Katie Albers
User Experience Consultant & Project Manager
katie at firstthought.com
310 356 7550

On Jul 23, 2009, at 10:47 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> For a mailing list that hates discussions about semantics, this
> thread is quite long.
>
> --
> Andrei Herasimchuk
>
> Chief Design Officer, Involution Studios
> innovating the digital world
>
> e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
> c. +1 408 306 6422
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

23 Jul 2009 - 12:57pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> For a mailing list that hates discussions about semantics, this thread is
> quite long.
>

This list only likes to *say* it hates semantic debates.

-r-

23 Jul 2009 - 1:24pm
Christian Crumlish
2006

and to be fair, there is a categorical difference between debating
nomenclature and terminology related to professional job titles and
practices and a debate about the use of language in a user interface. (still
i think it's only tangentially related to interaction design, at best.)

On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 10:57 AM, Robert Hoekman Jr <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:

> >
> > For a mailing list that hates discussions about semantics, this thread is
> > quite long.
> >
>
>

23 Jul 2009 - 2:58pm
ambroselittle
2008

I have a theory, which is that there is a direct relationship between the
theoretical nature of a thread and the thread length, i.e., the more
theoretical, the more replies. And its correlative that even a simple,
rather concrete/straightforward topic can be made to be theoretical in order
to facilitate longer discussion.
So far, IxDA has been proving it out. :o)

On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 2:24 PM, Christian Crumlish <xian at pobox.com> wrote:

> and to be fair, there is a categorical difference between debating
> nomenclature and terminology related to professional job titles and
> practices and a debate about the use of language in a user interface.
> (still
> i think it's only tangentially related to interaction design, at best.)
>
>

23 Jul 2009 - 5:53pm
gretchen anderson
2005

>This list only likes to *say* it hates semantic debates.

When you say *say* what do you mean? ;)

23 Jul 2009 - 6:40pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

>
> >This list only likes to *say* it hates semantic debates.
>
> When you say *say* what do you mean? ;)
>

Oh, you clever bastard, you. I actually almost fell for that.

-r-

24 Jul 2009 - 8:33am
Sarah Weise
2009

Who are your users? Is this a formal website, or is it something more
casual?

If it's a more formal website or something with a serious tone (such
as a health-related site that a user would rely on to provide accurate
information), you might lose credibility with some folks by using
"their."

Not sure how reliable that Grammar Girl site is that someone else
posted, but here's what it recommends:

"Rewrite your sentences to avoid the problem. If that's not
possible, check to see if the people you are writing for have a style
guide. If not, use he or she if you want to play it safe, or use they
if you feel bold and are prepared to defend yourself."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910

26 Jul 2009 - 11:59am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

The New York Times Magazine has an article on the debate about "they"
as singular versus plural.

I have a NY Times account, but I think that you can access this for a
limited time.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/magazine/26FOB-onlanguage-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

They state as some have here that many people, including some famous
authors, have used "they" as singular, but that isn't yet accepted as
universal.

Chauncey

On Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 2:33 AM, Sarah Weise<weise_sarah at bah.com> wrote:
> Who are your users?  Is this a formal website, or is it something more
> casual?
>
> If it's a more formal website or something with a serious tone (such
> as a health-related site that a user would rely on to provide accurate
> information), you might lose credibility with some folks by using
> "their."
>
> Not sure how reliable that Grammar Girl site is that someone else
> posted, but here's what it recommends:
>
> "Rewrite your sentences to avoid the problem. If that's not
> possible, check to see if the people you are writing for have a style
> guide. If not, use he or she if you want to play it safe, or use they
> if you feel bold and are prepared to defend yourself."
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=43910
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

27 Jul 2009 - 11:54pm
Sharon Greenfield5
2008

For what it's worth, I just noticed this on Facebook:
'<my name> just commented on their own status.'

They even already know what gender I am...

There. Dead horse, beaten.

Syndicate content Get the feed