4

He and she in Mandarin looks like this:

Male tā: 他

Female tā: 她

What would a non-binary tā look like? 也?

它 is for animals and inanimate objects, not exactly fitting.

祂 is for gods, not really appropriate.

牠 is the same as 它.


For practicality purposes 你 could work the same:

male nǐ: 你

female nǐ: 妳

non-binary nǐ: 尔?

4
  • 你 is used for both male and female. 妳 is seldom used. There is no TA which can be used for both male and female (except when one does not know the gender, usually 他 is the default).
    – fefe
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 4:09
  • -:)) ‘He and see’ ? 他, 见? ‘
    – Pedroski
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 22:05
  • @fefe I believe 妳 is used much more frequently in Taiwan than on the mainland.
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 15:10
  • Fun fact : 佢 is come from Cantonese
    – eXkc
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 4:30

3 Answers 3

13

The best candidate for a non-binary TA is in fact . This is particularly obvious in the word 他們 (them), which definitely does not refer to a group of specifically males. 他 did not acquire the specific meaning he until well after was invented, and 他 originally was a generic word meaning other (e.g. 他人 the other person).

她 did not actually exist before the new culture movement; its creation was from the direct influence from European languages. This is commonly seen in older popular novels like Dream of the Red Chamber, where 她 makes no appearances and it is incorrect to assume that 他 means he or him.

Note: In Taiwan, 他 is still sometimes used to refer to both he/him and she/her, although this practice is declining.

3

TA (exactly what you see here in Pinyin, not in Chinese character) is widely used by media in China when the gender is not certain. For example:

孩子的眼睛需要你和TA共同守护
孩子的眼睛需要你和TA共同守护
news.youth.cn

你 is good for both sexes in mainland China, in Taiwan and Hong Kong, some people like to change the left side to be a 女 if it refers to a female, but with too much exchange and communication with mainland, things have been changed.

Also in mainland, there is not a special word for the third person noun for God or deities or fairies.

0
3

While not an official character, a recent article put forth the pronoun:

X也 drawn as a Chinese character
Cathy Lai, ‘X也’and ‘Ta’: The gradual rise of gender-neutral pronouns in Chinese, July 2020

It's typed "X也" since the character is not currently in use.

The article describes non-binary people also use 他 (acknowledging its history as non-gendered), 佢, and TA (the Latin letters).

1
  • 1
    Maybe it could be written: ⿰メ也 (but that is using a Japanese glyph) perhaps: ⿰メ也 is better?
    – Mou某
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 10:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.