I am currently listening to a CD recording of a book by a reasonably well known author, set in the 1700s - so horses for transport. Trouble is, that although the horses (and one in particular) have names and are well described (if in laymans terms), auther persists in referring to the horse as "it". "It stood in the stable, eating its grain" What's with that? It is an inanimate object - its can't eat!
Maybe I'm just personificating horses - but I wouldn't call a dog or a cat it either.
Believe it or not, in the English language, animals are referred to as "it"s. As in "That mare Sally over there is lovely. How old is it?"
I have been marked down on papers all throughout my life/education as an English major by the true language sticklers. Whatever, yo, if it has a gender, it gets a gender-specific pronoun!
I kind of agree. I think if s/he has a gender, s/he gets a gender-specific pronoun, but if not, it doesn't. Like: A child shouldn't be allowed to suck its thumb; it will ruin its teeth. But if I were asking about your mare, I'd ask, "How old is she?"
I've only become aware of it in the last few years. Does Black Beauty (in the original version) use he and she? The horsey books I read as a kid all assigned gender specific pronouns. I've just gone a checked a few Dick Francis' and they all use he and she.
The horse in the book I'm listening to has a male name and is clearly described and then called it. It bugs me. I guess if that is the only thing I have to worry about, I'm doing okay!!
I don't mind it in the context of "A horse in the field lifted its head, then resumed grazing," but "The mare lipped up the sugar cube and then went back to its hay" would be annoying...
Nothing like the shouting when I was reading a Regency romance that referred to "tall, slab-sided thoroughbreds and barrel-chested quarter horses" at a livery stable. Where is this 1804 London livery importing its quarter horses from?