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  1. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #1

    Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    Dear forumers!

    There are times when there is a need to use a gender-neutral pronoun when referring to a person who is a party to an agreement. Most of the literature on the subject suggests using "he", "he/she", or "they". I have no problem with using any of those, but the text seems to sound a bit clunky. I've done some research and found that some native speakers use "it". Well, I know that "it" usually refers to inanimate objects, animals, and human babies. I wanted to know if "it" does really sound wrong to native speakers when referring to humans. Here is a piece of text from an agreement I found on an Australian website:

    For registration the User shall give accurate information and, where such information changes over time, shall inform Keystone Healthcare Supplies thereof (to the extent possible: online) without undue delay. The User shall ensure, that its e-mail address, as supplied to Keystone Healthcare Supplies, will be current and an address at which the User can be contacted.

    There are more examples of this usage available online. Can anybody enlighten me on this issue? Thanks in advance!

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    I don't like the use of "its" there. "His/her" or "their" would be much better.

  3. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    Mike, I really don't like it either, but is there any possibility that whoever wrote the above agreement is NOT a native speaker of English? If you're not very busy, could you please take a look at it (just click on 'its')? I just need you to give it a quick once-over to see if the text has been written by a native speaker. I appreciate it. The reason I need this is that there's a contract I translated recently in which I used 'its' everywhere to later find out that it was an organization, not a PERSON. I still have time to make some changes to the text. Please help me out.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    Sorry, way too much to read.

  5. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    That's all right. Are you (or most native speakers of English) as reluctant to use "it" when referring to toddlers as when referring to humans who may be of either gender in legal contracts? If you guys aren't, then, I guess, people could dispense with the use of such weird words as you can find here.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    I never call a baby or a toddler "it". If I don't know the gender, I say baby or toddler.

  7. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    Also, I never refer to a person's pet as "it". If I don'r know the gender, I say "your/the" dog or cat.

  8. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    Here's a great discussion related to using "it" when referring to toddlers. Looks like the British are more acceptable of 'it' than Americans. Still, the question remains: Can we refer to an adult who may be of either gender in legal contracts as 'it'? Babies are much gentler and kinder than adults. Who would care if we called someone who we don't even know 'it', in the context of some legalese claptrap at that?

  9. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    Brits do as Brits do. I can't speak for them.

  10. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Using "it" instead of "he/she" or "they" in legal contracts/agreements

    I greatly appreciate your input, Mike. Most of the stuff they ask me to translate deals with Europe. So I basically don't really care which variant of English to stick to, as long as the text hits the idea home in a clear and concise manner. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking into the issue until someone manages to convince me to stay away from "it".

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