© 2014

British Pronoun Use, Prescription, and Processing

Linguistic and Social Influences Affecting ‘They’ and ‘He’


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 1-8
  3. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 9-44
  4. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 45-75
  5. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 76-112
  6. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 113-142
  7. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 143-167
  8. Laura Louise Paterson
    Pages 168-173
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 174-192

About this book


This study considers the use of they and he for generic reference in post-2000 written British English. The analysis is framed by a consideration of language-internal factors, such as syntactic agreement, and language-external factors, which include traditional grammatical prescriptivism and the language reforms resulting from second-wave feminism.


Grammar socio-linguistics epicene pronouns he they BE06 Corpus feminism second-wave feminism gender studies English history history of literature language pronouns reform reforms syntactic tradition

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of HullUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolUK

About the authors

Laura Louise Paterson is a Teaching Fellow in English Language at The University of Leeds, UK. Her previous works include a diachronic study of generic he and singular they and an analysis of the English Language element of the UK National Curriculum. Her forthcoming publications focus on children's pronouns and online sociolinguistic networks.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title British Pronoun Use, Prescription, and Processing
  • Book Subtitle Linguistic and Social Influences Affecting ‘They’ and ‘He’
  • Authors L. Paterson
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2014
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Palgrave Language & Linguistics Collection Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-1-137-33272-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-1-349-46186-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-137-33273-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages X, 192
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Sociolinguistics
    Gender Studies
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


"Laura Louise Paterson's book entitled British Pronoun Use, Prescription, and Processing gives a very compelling, lucid and in-depth analysis of the term epicene pronoun, which is defined as a pronoun that does not convey gender or sex information, and is coindexed with a singular noun phrase referring to an animate being." - Masculinities Journal