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The Gender Pronoun Game & Lunars: Fangs at the Gate

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  • The Gender Pronoun Game & Lunars: Fangs at the Gate

    So I've been taking note of something in the manuscript and, incase the Topic title didn't give it away, it regards the usage of gender pronouns in the text and the arrangement of usage.

    So far we see a lot of You, They, It, She and Her, and not always in identifiable patterns.
    - Take for instance the text of the castes: Neutral, Neutral, Neutral, Femenine with an abrupt transition into Neutral again.
    - Merits are a mix of neutral and feminine
    - Charms are almost exclusively feminine except when referring to a resisting target, where it goes masculine.

    I noticed the same thing too in the dragon blooded books too but was surprised to see the same disparity here. This isn't even about the setting, or the NPCs, but directly speaking to the players themselves when explaining the rules.

    I'm all for equal representation, but shouldn't the assumption of the protagonists be kept more consistently neutral or try to keep the same ratios/parity with usages of such assumptions. E.G.:: Alternate by chapter, by charm tree or the like ? Keep it consistent within the same chapter or even the same paragraph/description (I'm looking at you Casteless !)

  • #2
    For charms, the intention of the writers is to use "She" for subject and "He" for object. This is useful, as English has no third-person pronouns that distinguish between subject and object (other than reflexive ones of course). If the book was in Arabic, obviously it wouldn't be necessary.

    They could say "The Lunar" and "The Lunar's Target". But that uses more word count.


    For fluff about individuals, obviously they use a pronoun based on the individual's gender, which makes sense. Ma-Ha-Suchi is He, Rakshi is She, Silent Pearl is They, etc.


    Other than that, I haven't really noticed. Besides charm text (where it's important to be consistent), I don't care a huge deal. I guess "They" makes most sense when talking about a non-specific Lunar, but it's not very important.

    Whereas in the Dragonblood book, I think they were deliberately playing to the idea that the Realm is a sexist society where the assumption is that important people are female, and so speakers of High Realm or Low Realm will default to a female pronoun when discussing most roles.


    Anyway, I see your point about consistency, but beyond the charmset and talking about specific individuals, I don't see it as a big issue. It's certainly not one that jumped out at me reading the book.*

    *Reading Dragonblood, the frequent use of female pronouns, even for non-specific Dragonblood, was very notable to me. Which is good, it should have been, because it really drove in the point that the Realm is a matriarchal society.
    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 02-19-2019, 10:51 AM.


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    • #3
      Per the Onyx Path styleguide, we default to she/her in generic cases, with he/him being used if we need to distinguish. Any singular theys in there that aren't referring to a specifically nonbinary character are probably just me slipping up; that kind of stuff will get corrected in editing.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by kawaiiwolf View Post
        Take for instance the text of the castes: Neutral, Neutral, Neutral, Femenine with an abrupt transition into Neutral again.
        It's actually plural, plural, plural, one sentence in the singular, with the rest of the Casteless spread in the plural.

        The Merits and Charms consistently refer to the character as she and her target as he.

        The chargen chapter addresses the player directly, and so uses you.

        It's pretty consistent, all in all.

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        • #5
          Damnit English!

          Why can't you distinguish between third-person-plural and unknown-gender-third-person-singular! Mandarin does it, why can't English? (Although I guess Mandarin's third-person-plural has issues of clarity in other ways.)

          Still, it's not as bad as British English's failure to distinguish between second-person-plural and second-person-singular, which frankly is embarressing. Texans can manage it, why can't we?


          My characters:
          Dr Soma Vaidya, viper-totem Lunar and kung-fu doctor
          Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng

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          • #6
            English is three different languages standing on each other's shoulders under a trenchcoat, trying to pass themselves off as a single, legitimate language. It is a mongrel language that not only requires children take vocabulary lessons, but spelling lessons, because it follows at least three different spelling conventions.

            Making this misbegotten tongue the new Lingua Franca of the world is but one of the British Empire's many sins.


            Also, certainly one of the reasons why feminine pronouns are used as the subject and male pronouns are used as the object is because of the gendered double-standard that makes it more acceptable for a male to be the target of deliberate action by a female than the reverse, especially in a context where most of the language concerns attacking with intent to kill.


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            • #7
              Or, you know, because female for subject has been industry standard since the 90’s.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                Or, you know, because female for subject has been industry standard since the 90’s.
                Uh.

                That is... emphatically not the case.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                  Or, you know, because female for subject has been industry standard since the 90’s.
                  Really only for WW, and I think Exalted 3e has actually been one of the most sytmeatic of it even then.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kawaiiwolf View Post

                    I'm all for equal representation, but shouldn't the assumption of the protagonists be kept more consistently neutral or try to keep the same ratios/parity with usages of such assumptions. E.G.:: Alternate by chapter, by charm tree or the like ?
                    Oh god, that would be hell.

                    Gender politics aside, I think that OP's style guide makes the text of charms very clear. The She/He distinction makes it very obvious who the actor and the target are without tortured constructions like "The lunar activating this charm," "This charm's target," etc. Alternating by charm tree would be incredibly confusing, which is reason enough not to do it.

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                    • #11
                      Kind of an example of the opposite to me was reading Scion, where it very often alternated. And this did a lot to mess with clarity after how much I got use to Exalted's use of pronouns as actual tools of language. Despite some areas of roughness in the Charmset design, that's one thing I am fully behind now.


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                      • #12
                        I'm calling male genocide.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
                          English is three different languages standing on each other's shoulders under a trenchcoat, trying to pass themselves off as a single, legitimate language.
                          Three?
                          There's a lot more than three.

                          I mean, obviously it's primarily a West Germanic grammar-base with Norman vocabulary, but it has bits of Celtic, Latin and Norman grammar. Then the vocabulary has Germanic base words, Norman, Old French, Latin and Greek vocabulary, plus a bit of Norse, and then obviously loanwords from everywhere.

                          Still, loan-words aren't exactly uncommon in other languages.

                          It is a mongrel language that not only requires children take vocabulary lessons,
                          Most languages do that. Admittedly, English is worse, because it has probably the world's largest lexical corpus. But then, that's an advantage for specificity and poetry. And it makes it useful as a technical language.

                          spelling lessons, because it follows at least three different spelling conventions.
                          Again, any language with a writing lesson requires spelling (or equivalent) lessons.

                          But certainly Italian, Korean, etc, have much easier spelling.

                          Still, it could be worse. It's way easier than Chinese. I'll also say that European and Asian students' English spelling is shockingly good; spelling isn't a huge issue for them.
                          (Unlike Arabs and Persians.)

                          Making this misbegotten tongue the new Lingua Franca of the world is but one of the British Empire's many sins.
                          It's useful as a technical language because of its huge corpus, and obviously users of technical language need a Lingua Franca more than users of

                          There's also some research that says the stress patterns and the vague-but-not-exact spelling-sound link is actually easier for L2 users to pick up than a fully-phonetic alphabet (like Italian). I haven't read it myself though, so I don't know how true that is. It sounds a bit dubious to me, but obviously having a phonetic alphabet for a Lingua Franca is essentially impossible.

                          Still, you could do better than English does.


                          Obviously there's also the fact that it's an Indo-European language (the most widespread language family), that it uses an alphabet (much harder for the barely literature than characters, but much better for the fully literate), that the wide range of loan words means most L2 users will find something they know, etc.
                          Essentially, a Lingua Franca works much better if it's a mash-up of several foreign languages than if it's a Language Isolate. Can you imagine how difficult it would be if Basque was the Lingua Franca?
                          Whereas for North Europeans English is pretty easy (my school has recently given up teaching Danish high-school students General English; they're just too good), and for Southern Europeans it's not very difficult.

                          Were I to pick a language to be a Lingua Franca, I'm not sure English would be no.1, but it'd be in the top 5.

                          (Obviously there's way better hypothetical languages, but I'm talking about real languages.)

                          I assume Chomsky would argue that the easiest Lingua France would be Interlanguage, but Interlanguage is a bit rubbish.


                          Also, certainly one of the reasons why feminine pronouns are used as the subject and male pronouns are used as the object is because of the gendered double-standard that makes it more acceptable for a male to be the target of deliberate action by a female than the reverse, especially in a context where most of the language concerns attacking with intent to kill.
                          I see your point, but I doubt that was a deliberate intention.

                          I suspect the intention of trying to use female pronouns as the subject was simply to make roleplaying games more attractive to women. 80s roleplaying games didn't exactly consider women a significant target audience.


                          My characters:
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                          Brother Alazar, Zenith occultist and last survivor of the Black Monastery of Leng

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                          • #14
                            I like to think of it from an in-setting point of view. Many eras, certainly most on a years-based count, of the Ages of Man were heavily influenced by top political positions being long-held by women (Scarlet Empress, Merela, to name but two). So the default actor is a she. I've observed the convention in my own homebrew/fanfiction.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
                              Per the Onyx Path styleguide, we default to she/her in generic cases, with he/him being used if we need to distinguish. Any singular theys in there that aren't referring to a specifically nonbinary character are probably just me slipping up; that kind of stuff will get corrected in editing.
                              Interesting. Did this get changed when Onyxpath became its own entity different from the old Whitewolf. Didn’t say for instance the old Whitewolf guidelines basically just shift gender references each time so they had half and half usage in Examples? This newer Guideline does make sense for clarity and order reasons.


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