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Undergraduate Research Journal

Abstract

To determine how Americans have naturally been using epicene pronouns, as opposed to the dictates of prescriptive grammar rules, this study focuses on speech patterns and informal writing. Because of their natural resistance to prescriptions, these two forms of communication tend to be more indicative of the epicenes most commonly used by Americans. 1 In this study, I seek an answer to the question of which epicene is used the most by Americans in speech and informal writing. I will use this information to determine the effectiveness of efforts to change prescriptions and traditions of epicene pronoun usage. After presenting a brief history of the use and evolution of epicene pronouns, I will present the methodology and results of the two surveys conducted in this study and then conclude with a discussion of the results. The results of the two surveys of this study indicate that a change in the gendered pronominal system is not only possible, but will occur as they loses grammatical number and becomes the established, genderless epicene pronoun in every grammatical situation.

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