Human Being and 'his' or 'its' nature, behaviour, etc...

English translation: human(s) and their nature .../humanity and its nature ...

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:Human Being and 'his' or 'its' nature, behaviour, etc...
Selected answer:human(s) and their nature .../humanity and its nature ...
Entered by: B D Finch

09:37 May 31, 2011
English language (monolingual) [PRO]
Philosophy / contemporary philosophy
English term or phrase: Human Being and 'his' or 'its' nature, behaviour, etc...
Hi All,

I am working on the translation of my own paper, to be further proofread, so this is not a 'work for a client'.
I wonder what would be the most correct form when using the subject of 'The human' or 'Human being': should I refer as 'its'? or should I use 'his' and this will be ok?

eg. A philosophical comprehension of the human and modes of being; technical being, and so on.

Unlikely in PT-BR, I have to avoid using 'Man' (in order be gender friendly;) and unfortunately, in the context, since refer to a general existential condition, I find a bit odd to use the common "his/her" all the time, since it is a transcendental 'person', not individuals...

thanks a lot in advance!
Soraya Hoepfner
Germany
Local time: 13:50
human(s) and their nature .../humanity and its nature ...
Explanation:
This is always tricky and a matter of personal style. If it is possible to avoid the problem by referring to "humans" in the plural or to "humanity" that is the neatest solution. I would avoid using "human being"

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Note added at 11 mins (2011-05-31 09:48:58 GMT)
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The use of the plural "their" with a singular subject is often used. It avoids his/her, s/he etc. but, though I do use that, from time to time, as a way around the problem, it is grammatically irritating.
Selected response from:

B D Finch
France
Local time: 13:50
Grading comment
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



SUMMARY OF ALL EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED
4 +10human(s) and their nature .../humanity and its nature ...
B D Finch
3 +1Mankind and human nature, behaviour, etc...
Vesna Maširević
4the nature of human beings
Donna Stevens


Discussion entries: 1





  

Answers


7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +10
human being and 'his' or 'its' nature, behaviour, etc...
human(s) and their nature .../humanity and its nature ...


Explanation:
This is always tricky and a matter of personal style. If it is possible to avoid the problem by referring to "humans" in the plural or to "humanity" that is the neatest solution. I would avoid using "human being"

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 mins (2011-05-31 09:48:58 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

The use of the plural "their" with a singular subject is often used. It avoids his/her, s/he etc. but, though I do use that, from time to time, as a way around the problem, it is grammatically irritating.

B D Finch
France
Local time: 13:50
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thank you, Finch! as you said it is 'grammatically irritating';)


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Charles Davis: I entirely agree
36 mins
  -> Thanks Charles

agree  Liz Dexter (was Broomfield): I think their does help
1 hr
  -> Thanks Liz

agree  DLyons: It's possibly a cultural issue - personally I don't find "their" jars at all.
2 hrs
  -> Thanks. Vesna has demonstrated that it didn't jar with Shakespeare or Thackeray, so who am I to be so hyper-sensitive?

agree  Phong Le
3 hrs
  -> Thanks Phong Le

agree  Ildiko Santana
6 hrs
  -> Thanks Ildiko

agree  Judith Hehir: their" definitely irritating—good suggestions
6 hrs
  -> Thanks Judith

agree  Jenni Lukac (X): Everybody's dilemma. At times, a singular is needed.
7 hrs
  -> Thanks Jenni

agree  Yasutomo Kanazawa
1 day 1 hr
  -> Thanks Yasutomo

agree  Jocelyne S: Have just seen this now.
2 days 22 hrs
  -> Thanks Jocelyne

agree  Thuy-PTT (X)
5 days
  -> Thanks Thuy
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30 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
human being and 'his' or 'its' nature, behaviour, etc...
the nature of human beings


Explanation:
If you use the plural, then you avoid the problem with gender. The nature of human beings has been the subject of many studies, both philosophical and scientific in nature. When you do refer to the singular, then he/she is the way to express it, in my opinion. You can also say he or she for variation. But in scientific papers, such variations are not required.


    Reference: http://www.smh.com.au/news/science/this-man-advocates-clonin...
Donna Stevens
Norway
Local time: 13:50
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
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29 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
human being and 'his' or 'its' nature, behaviour, etc...
Mankind and human nature, behaviour, etc...


Explanation:

The term man has traditionally referred to humans in general, or mankind
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/275376/human-being

So, your best option for avoiding genders is to avoid any he/she variant and use "they"
" You can make the relevant noun plural, rewording the sentence as necessary"
http://oxforddictionaries.com/page/heshethey/he-or-she-versu...

See this: http://www.fethullahgulen.org/love-and-tolerance/270-the-ide...




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Note added at 36 mins (2011-05-31 10:14:13 GMT)
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"Since at least the 15th century, "they" (though still used with verbs conjugated in the plural, not the singular), "them", "themself", "themselves", and "their" have been used, in an increasingly more accepted fashion, as singular pronouns. This usage of the word "they" is often thus called the singular "they". The singular "they" is widely used and accepted in Britain, Australia, and North America"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

There's not a man I meet but doth salute me / As if I were their well-acquainted friend — Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, Act IV, Scene 3 (1594)
"A person can't help their birth," Rosalind replied with great liberality. — Thackeray, Vanity Fair (1848)

Example sentence(s):
Vesna Maširević
Serbia
Local time: 13:50
Native speaker of: Native in SerbianSerbian, Native in Serbo-CroatSerbo-Croat

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  B D Finch: Thanks for the references re "singular they". If it was good enough for Shakespeare and Thackeray, it's good enough for me!
2 hrs
  -> you're welcome ;)

neutral  Jim Tucker (X): Singular they is fine, though irrationally avoided by some, and disliked by editors. But as long as we're going gender-neutral, then "humankind" instead of "mankind" // some may dipute it because they think "man" and "human" are etymologically related...
3 hrs
  -> Thanks but I think that's debatable ;) but than again, 'they' also raises many different opinions.../Yes, I've fund some interesting readings on the subject ;)

agree  Amanda Jane Lowles: I think 'mankind' sounds really good here.
10 hrs
  -> Thanks! I also think simple "human nature" sounds much better than their (or whoever's) nature
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