— From Business Insider: Wharton Professor Adam Grant Explains Why The Most Successful People Are Givers
— French proverb
One of the first things a student learns when studying Mandarin is the third person pronoun, tā. This was originally written 他 , with “human” radical (a radical is a part of a Chinese character that imparts some semantic or linguistic information), and it stood for feminine, masculine, and neuter—”he,” “she,” and “it.” During the early 20th century, however, some bright folks—undoubtedly in emulation of European languages—thought it would be a good idea to introduce gender into the Chinese writing system, so 她 (with “female” radical) came to be used for the feminine and 它 (with “roof” radical) for the neuter. I always thought that rather odd, because no attempt was made to differentiate the three forms in speech, only in writing, hence 他, 她, and 它 were still all pronounced tā.
In recent years, however, there has been an attempt to get rid of the gender distinctions for the third person pronoun and go back to a genderless stage. What is most curious, though, is the manner in which this is being done, namely through Pinyin, the system by which Chinese characters are transcribed into the Roman alphabet. In other words, 他, 她, 它, 牠, and others— all pronounced tā—are now being replaced by the actual letters “ta”!"
(Source: , via explore-blog)