spivak pronouns

Hello Friends!

This message is being cross-posted to my writing group. Sorry for the double reads.

So I'm working on this project, and I'm doing ok with it. But I have a problem.

I forgot to assign gender to these characters. The story I'm telling is an expansion of a story that I outlined in the prologue of a (failed) novel I wrote a long time ago. In that prologue I was pretty careful to avoid saying he or she, and because it was short that wasn't an issue.

So I expanded the story and I'm writing now, and I still haven't gendered the two main characters (who are at least theoretically/abstractly a couple), and so my question is: do you think I can get away with using Spivak pronouns, should I give in and make them boys or boy and girl.

First of all Spivak pronouns were developed by computer gamers (I think, it's defiantly an internet thing) and derived from "they/their/them" forms ie:

  • he and she = ey (pronounced as a long e sound)
  • his and hers = eir(s?) (pronunced as "air")
  • him and her = em (pronounced as an M, like the first syllable of Emily)

Plurals, of course obtained by prefixing a th-

My issue is that this isn't exactly a story that's all about gender or sexuality in such obvious terms, but it's my work, and I'm who I am, so it's part of what I'm thinking about. Also, since the story focuses on them, it's hard to have such things sort of slip into the background like I usually would. I fear that using Spivaks would draw undue attention, at least at first to the fact that they're not being gendered, and that's something I'm not sure I can deal with.

As I think about it, the main kind of sentences I'm having trouble with are ones that talk about bodies, and movement (so mostly the "his" form: the pendant hung from (possessive pronoun) neck, and so forth). Most other things I can sort of work around, but it's a question I'd think about, if you have ideas for this, I think that'd be great.


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