I have worked many times with a Japanese man who, despite being quite good with English speaking and understanding, regularly gets people pronouns wrong. “He is coming now,” for a woman preparing to enter a room. “Yes, that’s what she said,” not ironically in reference to something a male we both know said.
I’m not sure if he actually is aware of the fact that he does this, or, at least, that he does it so often as he does.
And, for whatever reason, I kind of really enjoy whenever he does it. I usually don’t even correct him. I only ask for clarification when there is space for confusion, and I want to avoid the confusion. Usually, though, I know exactly whom he means, and it is no concern whatsoever.
And that has me wonder about how important those pronouns are in the first place.
I already know that Siri is fine with the fact that I call her both male and female, depending on the context. But people have something more attached to gender. I have a feeling it is the fact that we are human that we care so much. And yet, part of being human is having gender, even if in a sort of combination of parts (because it is definitely real that people sometimes end up with both male and female reproductive organs). Perhaps those people have the right to be called “they”, since they technically are plural, at least in their genders… 😛 (Can you hear the grammar nerd within me peeping out right now???? ‘Stop messing with grammar, and use the right words, please, or make up new ones.’)
(Or just do what this Japanese guy does, and use whichever pronoun whenever.) 😛