A Lexicon of Neologisms.  Mikhail Epstein (Emory University)


             Grammatical Words (pronouns, conjunctions…)


bespite conj  (blend of because  and despite) -  a condensed form of the expression "because of, or perhaps in spite of."  


This work, when done and published, will be met with keen interest by scholars and the general public alike, bespite its controversial nature. 


Bespite the intensity of the debate, there has been considerable advancement in our understanding of this global trend.


Bespite the expectation of Truman's impending loss, Democrats turned out, and by means of an "underdog effect" assured Truman's victory.


                        *     *     *

hu  pron (a clipping of "human") - a 3rd person gender-neutral pronoun referring both to a man and a woman.

Hu  belongs to the category of back-clippings, in which an element or elements are removed from the end of a word to create a shortened form: flu (influenza) lab(oratory), math(ematics), ad(vertisement), piano(forte), and condo(minium). Endings with an open syllable, as in "hu", are common in such clippings as flu, piano, condo...

Hu  is pronounced  (hju:), like "hu" in "human." As a sound pattern,  "hu" is closest to the two other genderless, singular, person-related English pronouns: "you" and the interrogative "who." "Who" and "hu" are naturally drawn to each other by rhyming and communicational contexts, as a question and the answer:  (hu:)?  -  (hju:). "Hu" designates precisely that generic, un-gendered HUman to whom the question "who?" refers. Thus the answer is prompted by the question itself. Who buys this stuff? Who would want a car like that?   "Anyone who believes that hu can afford it."


The five forms of the 3rd person pronouns make up the



            nom     gen (adj)      posses       acc          refl

            ---      ---                 ---           ---           ----

male      he         his              his           him         himself

fem       she        her             hers         her          herself

neut      hu         hus             hus          hu           huself


All derivative forms are pronounced similarly: hus (hu:z), huself (hu:self).


Anyone who admits that hu has a conflict of interests should not serve as an investigator.

An employee may choose to cover only huself and hus child or any number of children.

It's the vice-president's job to support the president and take hus  place when hu is away.


It should be the chief aim of a university professor to

exhibit huself in hus own true character - that is, as an ignorant human being, actively utilising hus small share of knowledge.


An introvert can easily become an extrovert when it is

advantageous for hu to do so.


For some speakers, preferable technique in avoiding gender-biased pronouns is to change the noun into plural. However, such a solution is problematic and even detrimental to the language's ethical and conceptual capacity to deal with individuals. Compare:


                  A hero is one who places huself at risk for another.


                  Heroes are those who place themselves at risk for others.


To convey this idea I would like to imagine A HERO, a heroic human being, rather than a group of heroes, a mass of heroes. Resorting to “they” successfully eliminates not only gender, but individuality as well. Should we speak and think about people only in terms of multitudes? I think it's important to talk about a student, an employee, an author, a doctor, a physicist, or a person, rather than to refer to faceless students, authors, doctors, persons, etc. We need to accommodate grammar to ethical and conceptual concerns, not the other way around. Gaining gender-neutral grammar at the expense of an individual reference is a dubious achievement.


There are several advantages of "hu" over other contenders for the



1.  "Hu" is fully motivated, semantically and etymologically

justified, as a shortened form of "HUman."  Whenever the pronoun is

used, you have the idea  of the noun behind it making it memorable,

inherently meaningful and suggestive (unlike purely

conditional, artificial pronouns earlier suggested such as "e,

et, mon, na, ne, po, se, tey").


2."Hu" is a short, one syllable word.

The use of "hu" (2 keystrokes) cuts effectively the

time needed to type "he or she" (9 keystrokes);  cf. "huself" (6)  and "himself or herself," (18) etc. This is a  substantial economy of time, space,  and effort in our frequent daily use of gender-neutral pronouns,  especially in e-mails.


3. "Hu" fits the pattern of existing 3rd person pronouns ("he" and "she"),  first, by including the  consonant "h" common to all of

them; second, by containing only one vowel, like all of

them.  "Hu - he - she" - these words, all open syllables,

one consonant plus one vowel, are good partners in

distributing the gender roles within one lexical family.


4. The spelling of "hu" coincides with its pronunciation; there

are no irregularities of the kind that damages, for example, the

"s/he" pronoun, making it good in writing but unpronouncable.


5. "Hu" is used in a regular grammatical manner, in

contrast to "they" (as a singular pronoun). "Hu" can be used routinely and automatically, without  twisting the sentence to put all nouns in plural or exploiting "they" in a disagreeable manner to refer to a

singular person.


6. It is easy to form derivatives from "hu" following the

existing patterns:  "hus"  and "huself."


7. If we decide to borrow a gender-neutral pronoun from

another language, we'll have to consider the Persian "u,"

Arabic "hu" and Old English "ou." All of them could be

easily incorporated in contemporary English with the

addition or preservation of "h," as a shortened form of the

genderless "human".


So far, I don't see any strong logical or historical arguments against hu-language. It is the language of undivided HUmanness. In the near future, this HUmaness will need even better articulation to distinguish our species from artificial "it" forms of intelligence that are rising to a more active role in civilization and language. Soon we'll have to answer such  questions as "Who is reading, writing, calcuLatg, speaking, and even thinking?" The answer may be "hu" (human) or "it" (machine). We need "hu" not only to speak equally about men and women, but in order to speak differently about humans and non-humans who share with us many similar  qualities and predicates and fulfill many comparable tasks.  We increasingly need "hu" as a sign of a humanly specific  actor or agent in the language of mental actions and symbolic  interactions.


In a celebrated episode of "Star Trek: The Next  Generation," the crew of the Enterprise manages to liberate an  individual from the hive-like structure of the maleficent Borg Collective. They name hu, of course, Hu(gh)!


                           PreDictionary. A Lexicon of Neologisms