Welcome back — it’s been quite some time since we’ve explored some neopronouns here, and it’s a great time to do it as we’ve just passed international pronouns day on Oct. 20 (or the third Wednesday of October).
Since it’s been so long, let’s revisit what neopronouns are. They are, essentially, pronouns outside of she/her, he/him and they/them — oftentimes used to express oneself outside any gender, as they/them would accomplish.
This very specific (albeit quite informative) blog identifies Ze pronouns as one of the more popular gender-neutral sets among the online LGBTQ community, and was derived from the German “sie” set of pronouns but “were considered too feminine-sounding since ‘sie’ is German for ‘she’, and ‘hir’ was a feminine pronoun in Middle English,” the article reads.
Though they/them pronouns are generally used for genderqueer or gender-neutral folks, it can sometimes make the individual uncomfortable. With the use of Ze and other neopronouns, one can establish their own comfort.
“Although ‘ze’ tends to be thought of as gender neutral (and many people find pronouns to be an important affirmation of identity), a person who goes by ‘ze’ could actually be a man, a woman, both, neither or something else entirely,” the Resource for Personal Pronouns reads.
The site also takes note of the possibility that some folks go by more than one set of pronouns, as some of you have seen She/They or He/They.
Its pronunciation can be difficult with English dialects. Ze is pronounced with a long “E,” and Zim and Zir hold that “ee” sound, such as “Zeem” and “Zeer.” Though neopronouns — and specifically the use of they/them for a singular person or subject — have been around since the Shakespearian era (in Hamlet) and even before that in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1386), it’s not quite known the first uses of Ze in any particular context.
The set can also be seen as ze/hir/hirs or ze/zir/zirs.