A note about the pronoun, "yo."
Throughout this web-site you will notice we use the pronoun "yo." Yo is a gender non-specific pronoun. After a good deal of deliberation in the 1990's, we concluded that "yo" would be a good word to be used in place of he, she, her, him, his, and hers when the gender of the subject is unknown or unimportant. For example:
If a person has questions about this faq, yo should send us an email and we will answer it as soon as possible.
That person may have a question that others are asking so we will try to answer yos question as quickly as possible.
We are, of course, aware that this sounds funny at first. However—like all new words—we have found that you can get used to it sooner than you think.
We believe that the language we use has a profound effect on how we conceptualize the world. We believe this is both a more healthy and more accurate use of our language.
In using "yo," also note that "yos" is the equivalent of "his" or "hers" (no apostrophe) and "yo's" is the equivalent of "he's (he is)" or "she's (she is). Yon is the equivalent of him or her.
What is Yo (capitalized)?
More about the derivation of the word "yo"
[A few years after a founding member of Yoism moved to Baltimore to become a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University and held a number of Yo gatherings there, we became aware of a new linguistic phenomenon taking form. Apparently, it may be catching on.]
3rd January 2008
'Yo' Being Used As 'Gender-Neutral Pronoun'
Street term 'Yo' is being used by kids as a gender-neutral
replacement for 'he' and 'she', according to researchers.
Language experts in the US
say since at least 2004 students have been saying "yo" as a
substitute for gender specific pronouns and the trend is growing.
After previous attempts to introduce a gender-neutral pronoun failed,
researchers suggested "yo" could become commonly used.
Experts said the growth of the word's usage in this way was remarkable as it
was a "grass-roots phenomenon".
The study, published in this week's New Scientist, found middle-school and
high-school students in Baltimore,
Maryland, used the word in
sentences such as, "Yo put his foot up" and "Yo looks like a
Researcher Elaine Stotko, a linguistics expert at
John Hopkins University in Baltimore, found one in two teachers in a class she
was holding used the word "yo" in this way.
She and teacher Margaret Troyer then started a probe listening for spontaneous
uses of the word and judging the authenticity of sentences. They distinguished
the new use of "yo" from interjections such as "Yo, Adrian!"
They carried out sentence-translating exercises which had
Ms Troyer said: "They translated yo as he/she pretty consistently.
"This showed me that students are not only using a new slang word because
it's cool. They are actually aware of the meaning of what they are saying."
Dennis Baron, a professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign, has written extensively about the failure of invented
words that have not been picked up as pronoun substitutes.
He described the emergence of "yo" as significant because it has not
been planted and was a grass-roots phenomenon.
He said: "Most of the gender-neutral pronouns are artificial coinages that
are then marketed - unsuccessfully - to users".
Although the chances of "yo" being accepted into the English language
are still slim, Mr Baron said he couldn't rule it out.
He said: "All it takes is a way to break out of the narrow range of use
into the broader community of speakers and while that's not likely, it could
The lack of gender-neutral substitutes has been a point of discussion for at
least two centuries.
Adrian Quintero, a transgender person, said: "Our language really needs
words to acknowledge folks who do not feel included in the gender binary."