I'm reading "On the steel breeze" by Alistar Reynolds. For a character named Travertine, he uses "ve" instead of "he" and "vis" instead of "his". This is a passage using "ve":

Travertine's a pretty divisive figure. Ve's a friend of mine... When ve was last in trouble..."

and this is using "vis"

Travertine examined vis fingers.

Is this some kind of formal treatment? or the writer made it up? I can't find any info about this.

  • 2
    Ve and Vis are not standard English. See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/86150/…
    – James K
    Jan 1, 2019 at 15:41
  • The writer made it up - and it is almost certainly indicates a (fictional) other gender. Ann Leckie in her novel Provenance has a third gender, referred to as neman (plural nemen, pronouns e, em, eir. Also nuncle, the neman sibling of a parent).
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 1, 2019 at 17:00
  • Germany today (1.1.2019) introduced an intersex divers (or non-binary) gender option for birth certificates and other official documents. independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/… Jan 1, 2019 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


Ve and vis are not standard pronouns in English. The author is using them in a science fiction context for a genderless being (not male or female). There have been numerous proposals for genderless pronouns in English. This (or one like this) had been made before the book was written. It's not certain whether the author was using this proposal or made it up independently. None of the proposals for new pronouns has been adopted by a significant number of people.

Unless someone asks you to use specific pronouns, learners should use the standard he/she::his/her pronoun system for people whose gender is known.

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