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On the train to the airport, Frank Ball grabbed a book on writing and settled in for the forty-five minute ride. As he did mental exercises, flipping scenes and creating unexpected twists, he came across a paragraph describing the painful sentence constructions made necessary because we have no singular pronoun for a person who might be either “he” or “she.”

We work around the problem because we’ve been told we have no choice. This time, he wasn’t buying it. That’s dumb, he thought. This should not be an obstacle too big for writers to handle. He pulled out my pad and started to write.

Why have we burdened ourselves for so long with the absence of a desperately needed pronoun for him or her? Surely, with all the able writers of the world, someone could arrange a few scrabble tiles and form a perfectly good word. All we need to do is modify it, adding h for him or her and we have ith.

Our writing cannot possibly be wrong if there is no rule against ith. Shakespeare invented words. Why can’t we? Heinlein decided he needed to enhance a futuristic language with grok meaning to understand. If he could create a new sound for his sci-fi world, we should have power to say what we mean. English teachers grammicate. We need to communicate.

Ith is neither he nor she. Ith is the pronoun singular for we. Wherever ith goes, others are sure to follow. When one is needed to lead, they is too many. All we need is ith.

When Frank looked up, the train was empty except for a few people who had just gotten on. As they were pulling away from the station, he realized he had been so absorbed in his writing, he had missed getting off at the airport stop.

— Frank Ball © 2004