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  1. CarloSsS's Avatar
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    #1

    it vs. him

    In the following context, could "it" be used to refer to the baby even though the sex of the baby is known (he)?

    While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have the baby, and she gave birth to her first son. Because there were no rooms left in the inn, she wrapped the baby with pieces of cloth and laid it/him in a box where animals are fed.

    I've heard native speakers (Americans) talk about babies even though they knew their gender, but the speakers didn't have any relationship with the baby.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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    #2

    Re: it vs. him

    Referring to a human infant as "it" was once standard, but today seems affected if not merely callous.

    PS. By the way, physical sex; grammatical or behavioral gender. Please don't confuse the two.
    Last edited by abaka; 02-Jul-2012 at 19:58. Reason: added PS

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: it vs. him

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    PS. By the way, physical sex; grammatical or behavioral gender. Please don't confuse the two.
    I am afraid that 'gender' is now widely used and accepted where you and I would use 'sex'. It is, unfortunately, no longer incorrect in BrE. I don't know about AmE.

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    #4

    Re: it vs. him

    Yes, no one wants to say "sex" anymore, so they say "gender."

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    #5

    Re: it vs. him

    "It is no longer incorrect" in the new world, either.

    To use "gender" for "sex", however, misses the important distinction. Human beings cannot change sex without surgery, but their gender is a consequence of their mental or emotional makeup, and so a male for example can choose to dress and act as a woman. The sex-change operation reassigns their sex to match the gender they wish to live by: idiom notwithstanding, it is not a "gender-reassignment" surgery, but an affirmation and enhancement of gender.

    We can still choose to speak correctly and to maintain the subtle shades of meaning.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: it vs. him

    In my experience, people still ask expectant mothers "Do you know the sex yet?" not "Have you found out the gender yet?"
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: it vs. him

    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    To use "gender" for "sex", however, misses the important distinction. Human beings cannot change sex without surgery, but their gender is a consequence of their mental or emotional makeup, and so a male for example can choose to dress and act as a woman. The sex-change operation reassigns their sex to match the gender they wish to live by: idiom notwithstanding, it is not a "gender-reassignment" surgery, but an affirmation and enhancement of gender.

    We can still choose to speak correctly and to maintain the subtle shades of meaning.
    I am not sure that I agree that you have used the words 'correctly' in your post

    For me, 'sex' is, or used to be, the state of being male or female; a 'gender' is one of a class of nouns, frequently, and usually unhelpfully named 'masculine', 'feminine' and 'neuter', as words denoting males tend to be masculine gender (Latin 'agricola', feminine, is an exception) and words denoting females tend to be feminine gender (German 'Mädchen', neuter, is an exception); inanimate object fall fairly arbitrarily into one of the three or more genders in a language (The word for 'sun' is masculine in French, feminine in German and, I believe, neuter in Slovak).

    'Gender is now used not only for noun classes but also for what we used to call 'sex'. Your use of 'gender', which seems to suggest something like 'identification of a humans with their 'real' (perhaps 'inner') sex, regardless of the physical sex they were born with' is not one with which I am familiar.

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    #8

    Re: it vs. him

    I am also not sure that the idea of "gender" as some sort of expression of identity which requires progressive institutions like universities to maintain more than 2 types of restrooms is that accepted.

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    #9

    Re: it vs. him

    If you are confirm about the gender, it would be preferable to use him instead of it.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: it vs. him

    Quote Originally Posted by alenjones23 View Post
    If you are confirm sure/certain about of the gender, it would be preferable to use "him" instead of "it".
    I am never going to win any prizes in a "Who likes babies?" competition and consequently, I do tend to have a habit of referring to babies as "it" even when I know their gender and, quite frequently, even when I know the parents! Whilst I wouldn't say to the parents "Is it sleeping through the night yet?" or anything similar, I have been known to say to other friends after the departure of friends with a baby "I got no sleep last night, it kept waking up and crying every half an hour" or "I can't believe they're still letting it sleep in their bedroom with them". I'm far more likely to refer to the baby as "it" in a negative statement. For example, I would probably say "I don't like babies much but she's actually quite sweet".

    I must point out that this is nothing to do with grammatical use at all and should not be followed as such! It is simply how I happen to use the language in certain situations, and I am not alone, so you will hear "it" used for babies.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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