Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Consider that you have a fantasy figure, when writing a comic/book. Could you refer to this figure as he/she without being grammatically incorrect?

Example: Daffy Duck likes his new boat. Because now he can sing "I'm on a boat".

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, StoneyB, Mahnax, tchrist Sep 23 '12 at 20:49

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2  
Definitely he respectively she ;) –  Em1 Jul 28 '12 at 19:57
1  
General Reference. Presumably anyone writing a comic/book with "fantasy" characters will have read other such books, and noticed that Donald Duck, for example, is never referred to as "it". –  FumbleFingers Jul 29 '12 at 3:04
1  
oic - you mean like the Microsoft Microsoft Office Assistant (Clippy). All I can say is I think most people call it an "it", and it has been deprecated in the 2007 release of Microsoft Office. People in general don't like distractions like that on screen -they're probably less bothered by static images in books, but I doubt many readers would be so taken with such "doodles" as to anthropomorphise them into "he/she". –  FumbleFingers Jul 29 '12 at 14:23
1  
@FumbleFingers, I'm Not adding something like Clippy in the book! I don't think many readers would care either, I'm just curious what is correct/most common. –  Filip Ekberg Jul 29 '12 at 16:40
1  
Yeah - I got that from your last comment. There's no concept of "correct" usage if you're just referring to a "character" in the artwork of, say, one of those "XXX for Dummies" books. But as I said, I expect most readers would call it "it", but the author, publisher, and illustrator would probably like us to "warm to it", and call it "he/she". –  FumbleFingers Jul 29 '12 at 17:19

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The suspension of one's normal firm grasp on reality needed to 'enter into' a work of fiction, where human attributes / emotions are ascribed to inanimate objects or animals, is known as engaging with 'pathetic fallacy'. The more fanciful the fiction, the greater the leap of imagination required. (The attributing of human characteristics to sub- (or super-human) persons / creatures / objects is also known as 'anthropomorphism'.) Consistency is usually needed to avoid total confusion (I don't know how Walt Disney got away with a non-speaking Pluto and a speaking Goofy). If Daffy Duck can sing "I'm on a boat", he's a he (assuming Daffy is male).

share|improve this answer
1  
Pluto is a "he" because he's a male dog, even though not anthropomorphized like Goofy. Consider also Lightning McQueen (a personified racecar) and his "girlfriend", a light blue Porshe. her name is Sally. –  TecBrat Jul 29 '12 at 10:43

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