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What word/phrase do you use to include everyone?

Darren Vong
Developer with strong interests in encouraging diversity in tech, travelling and occasional tea drinking.
・1 min read

The languages we speak and write in seems inherently biased. For example, to refer to a group of men, there are plenty of words to choose from: lads, gentleman, chaps... etc. The case is similar for women.

What if you want to refer to everyone, without using "everyone"? This may sound like a rhetorical question, but nine times out of ten, I find the alternative people use to do so is "guys". For me, "guys" is another word for referring to a group of men, so when you use that, are you really including everyone?

Speakers of some European languages may argue that by convention, the masculine plural words (like pronouns) are used and meant to refer to everyone in a mixed group. However, I'd beg to differ and claim that it's masculine biasedness and an outdated convention that doesn't seem applicable to the world we live in anymore.

To ensure everyone is truly included, be that in an event or a meeting, what are your alternative choices for referring to a group of people consists of mixed genders?

Some of my favourites (in English) are: y'all, folks, peeps. What are yours?

Discussion (19)

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avalander profile image
Avalander

Most of the time I use everyone, alternatively I've been known to use everypony now and then. Sometimes I also use folks, fellows, team (when talking to my team, obviously), people and probably others I can't even remember.

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Darren Vong Author

Love everypony!

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Antonio Radovcic

I use just the female form and if anybody complains, I tell them men are included in that.

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Darren Vong Author

I don't see how this is any different from trying to refer to everyone using the masculine version. What about for people that don't fit in either gender (those who identify themselves as one of LGBT+)?

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Antonio Radovcic

On a serious note:

In the German language, the "Guys" would be "Jungs", which would never be used for mixed groups even by less inclusion-sensible speakers. I like to use "Leute", which means "People" but is not as awkward as in EN.
It's a bit on the casual side, though. So in a professional setting I'd probably leave it out entirely.

Also in German there's gendered "occupational words". English words like "User", "Driver", "Occupant" etc. are not gender-specific. The German versions "Benutzer", "Fahrer", "Bewohner", which are often used by default, are male. So for better inclusion you use "Benutzer/in", "Benutzerinnen und Benutzer" and the like.

Those do get pretty cumbersome. So for example in User-Stories, I always use the female form "Benutzerin".

There's also the nominalized adjective, which is often used for groups. For "students" you could say "Studentinnen und Studenten", or just "Studierende", which can be translated to "Studying People". In some contexts, this works really well, but for some it doesn't work out grammatically.

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darrenvong profile image
Darren Vong Author • Edited

To be fair, the reference on some European languages is based on my basic level of understanding of French and Spanish on gender pronouns, which may not translate well across to nouns like "guys".

Although, I imagine occupational words might work in a similar way in French/Spanish as they do in German. If anyone speaks either of those languages, I'd love to hear what you got to say about that πŸ˜…

And super interesting insights on how that works in German, thanks for sharing!

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niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

They are also included in "Hey Girlfriends! πŸ’•πŸ’—".

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deciduously profile image
Ben Lovy

Y'all is legitimately missing from the language and everyone should use it. Sometimes you can even spice it up with an "all y'all" if I really mean everyone in the group.

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Ross Henderson • Edited

To me, "guy" is a very contextual word.

A guy is a man.
Guys are just men generally.
The guys though can be anyone.

I always use "guys". But I don't call a man a "guy" and I don't refer to men as "guys".

It's weird now that I've had to think about it.

Edit: That being said, after a quick Google it looks like "guy" is fairly quickly becoming a neutral word. Which I'm very happy about!

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Darren Vong Author • Edited

Given the word "guy"'s strong male association though for such a long time, I'm not sure it's the best candidate as a neutral term.

Yes, it sounds nitpicky, but things will never change if we never talk about it, so glad I got you thinking about it at least!

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Ben Halpern

I use the phrase "folks" and it's become pretty natural. It's kind of what I just say and I don't often think to say guys, and I feel good about it.

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Darren Vong Author

That's awesome you use an inclusive/neutral word by default already! Unfortunately that's not the case for most people, and finding a balance of calling people out without stirring unnecessary drama is a tricky one. That's probably a discussion on its own!

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Philip Hallstrom

The other nice thing about "folks" is it's well... "folksy" and much less offputting than saying say "fellow resource units."

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Michael Robinson

Folks, y'all, comrades. Depending on context.

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Darren Vong Author

Comrades is a good one - thanks for sharing!

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nataliedeweerd profile image
𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐚π₯𝐒𝐞 𝐝𝐞 π–πžπžπ«π

I sometimes use "troops" :) "Morning troops!"

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Darren Vong Author

"Troops" sounds cool - makes your team sounds like a strong unit :D

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Brandon

"Nerds"
"Humans"
"Mortals"
If it's serious:
"Everyone"

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Darren Vong Author

Nerds πŸ˜‚ I guess that'd work well in most tech settings