A friend doesn't go on a diet because you are fat. -Erma Bombeck
Question #11931 posted on 12/25/2004 3:12 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Could you outline the basic rules for using "werf", and maybe give some good examples of how to do so. Its an awesome word and I want to use it more, but I always end up sounding like an idiot when I do.

- ?!?!?

A: Dear ?!?!?,

"Werf" was created to replace the more cumbersome "he or she" and, as such, can be used anywhere the third person singular pronoun would be used. Eg. "Who is this reader and why is werf so upset?"

Most unusually, the pronoun does not decline in its object form, so "werf" can also be used to replace "him or her." Eg. "I don't think anyone here knows werf in RL."

The possessive form of "werf" is "werf's" (or possibly "werfs"). It replaces "his or her." Eg. "What is werf's problem?"

The werfish form of "his or hers" (possessive noun as opposed to possessive adjective) is unclear. The correct form may be "werfs," but the usage has not yet settled down. "Werfself" may also be used as a substitution for "himself" or "herself." Eg. "If every reader would search the archives for werfself, werf would save the writers a lot of time."

As a fairly new addition to the English language, the usage of "werf" is still in flux, although I think the above outlined rules are becoming fairly concrete. Additional, non-standard uses of werf include using it as a general term for people ("Greetings, werfs!") and also as a mild expletive or interjection ("What the . . . werf?").

Where literary style is generally concerned: if Ambrosia does it, it's kosher.

- Katya
A: Dear Questioner,

I love it, I love it, I love it. Three cheers for the spreading of Independent Study subcultural quirks.

I'm impressed. Katya has exactly nailed it. (And thanks for the good word.) The one detail I would clarify: werf's, not werfs. "Werfs" may eventually take noun status meaning "those people of unknown gender" (it's been used that way before), but that seems superfluous to me. "People" is much simpler for that.

Anyway, mad snaps to you for incorporating werf into your vocabulary. Should anyone question your use of the word, please pass the good word along. Explain to werf that "werf" is the efficient, time-saving solution to the problem created in a politically correct society that uses a language devoid of a suitable gender-neutral, third-person singular personal pronoun.

Merry Christmas.


*p.s. For the etymology of "werf," see Board Question #7416