The use of gender pronouns

  • #51
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i support the vulgar use of the singular "she"

as in

"that's what she said"
why?
 
  • #52
Chi Meson
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Vulgar? I think this use of non-gender specific pronouns dates to my 2nd-grade reader book, back in the 60's, while describing the actions of a generic, non-gender-specific person.

It wasn't considered "vulgar" for second-graders back then. It certainly shouldn't be considered vulgar now.
Unfortunately, the use of "they" as a singular is still a huge "no no" by most english teachers. It is not yet "accepted" by the "authorities." In fact I am greatly surprised that a singular "they" would have been in a 2nd-grade reader, though more likely in the 60's than now.
 
  • #53
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Sandy Koufax? I guess I can't expect a Briton to know US baseball players.

When the gender is unknown, I tend to use the word "they" as a gender-neutral third person pronoun, and I don't care what the grammar manuals say.
I suppose a Briton who wanted to be an all-round Trivial Pursuit champion might take the trouble to learn the names of US baseball players...
 
  • #54
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Nope, and I don't think Sandy is gender neutral (like I said, cultural thing) - never heard a dude called it before, actually only heard one girl and that's in Grease.


I try to 'mix it up', use a bit of everything. Keep it even.
How about Sandy North, all-American pioneer hero in Champion, The Wonder Horse? (Better shut up while I'm ahead - showing my age now).
 
  • #55
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Unfortunately, the use of "they" as a singular is still a huge "no no" by most english teachers. It is not yet "accepted" by the "authorities." In fact I am greatly surprised that a singular "they" would have been in a 2nd-grade reader, though more likely in the 60's than now.
Quite right too. Who in their right mind would want to say "They has discovered" or "These results is consistent with... "? Or conversely, and for the sake of verbal impartiality, "This experiment have proved... "?

The English language is the most demanding and sophisticated tool that you and I will ever use in the course of our daily work. You can throw in your lot with the majority, and bend the knee to the Tyranny of Mediocrity, or you can learn to use it with the same skill that a bricklayer brings to the trowel, or a surgeon, to the scalpel. Choose.
 
  • #56
Chi Meson
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Quite right too. Who in their right mind would want to say "They has discovered" or "These results is consistent with... "? Or conversely, and for the sake of verbal impartiality, "This experiment have proved... "?

The English language is the most demanding and sophisticated tool that you and I will ever use in the course of our daily work. You can throw in your lot with the majority, and bend the knee to the Tyranny of Mediocrity, or you can learn to use it with the same skill that a bricklayer brings to the trowel, or a surgeon, to the scalpel. Choose.
Wherefor hast thou spoken with such vulgarity?
 
  • #57
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Really! Years ago I worked a summer with a girl from Wales. Her English was perfect, but with the most disturbing, yet beautiful lilts of any accent I've ever heard. She ended many sentances with a sharp upward pitch, whether she was asking a question or not. It that common among the Welsh?
Until you mentioned it I hadn't really noticed, but I'd say there's a general trend.

My English, in fairness, is better than a lot of 'English' people I meet. But the accent kills it. For example, I've spent ages in bars in London asking for a glass of Coke and have the bar staff look at me stupid and ask "you want a glass of cork?". You'll also note that anyone with a Welsh accent pronounces "ear" and "here" as "year".
Unfortunately, the use of "they" as a singular is still a huge "no no" by most english teachers. It is not yet "accepted" by the "authorities." In fact I am greatly surprised that a singular "they" would have been in a 2nd-grade reader, though more likely in the 60's than now.
I know it's not taught, but I'm not sure if it's marked down or not.
How about Sandy North, all-American pioneer hero in Champion, The Wonder Horse? (Better shut up while I'm ahead - showing my age now).
I'm Welsh so have no idea who that is.
 
  • #58
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16
Unfortunately, the use of "they" as a singular is still a huge "no no" by most english teachers. It is not yet "accepted" by the "authorities." In fact I am greatly surprised that a singular "they" would have been in a 2nd-grade reader, though more likely in the 60's than now.
The use of scare quotes around "authority" is a good idea given that no such "authorities" exist. However, I get the feeling that you are willing to fill the gap. In that case, be aware that I will not "accept" it. The use of the word 'they' to indicate a singular is a feature of the language. The goal of a linguist is to describe the rules of a language, not make them. And that is what they do.
 
  • #59
Chi Meson
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The use of scare quotes around "authority" is a good idea given that no such "authorities" exist. However, I get the feeling that you are willing to fill the gap. In that case, be aware that I will not "accept" it. The use of the word 'they' to indicate a singular is a feature of the language. The goal of a linguist is to describe the rules of a language, not make them. And that is what they do.
No sir! I claim no such "authority," and I am aghast that I may have implied that I did. I am truly in the camp of "descriptive linguistics," which is why I am in favor of the use of the singular "they," not against it. I am truly surprised that this was not clear. This is a common spoken application across the English speaking world. So common in fact, that a person might not even notice when they use it. Invented forms of a neutral pronoun are clumsy and would never "catch on" since they are "prescriptive" in nature, and natural languages are disgusted by prescriptions.
 
  • #60
Char. Limit
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Quite right too. Who in their right mind would want to say "They has discovered" or "These results is consistent with... "? Or conversely, and for the sake of verbal impartiality, "This experiment have proved... "?

The English language is the most demanding and sophisticated tool that you and I will ever use in the course of our daily work. You can throw in your lot with the majority, and bend the knee to the Tyranny of Mediocrity, or you can learn to use it with the same skill that a bricklayer brings to the trowel, or a surgeon, to the scalpel. Choose.
But that's not how we use the singular they. It's more like this.

"Whoever stole my lunch from the refrigerator, they are in big trouble!"
 
  • #61
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3
Have any of you all considered "y'all" as a candidate for the currently redundant English second person plural pronoun (with that of the first person), which most other languages distinguish between.
 
  • #62
Containment
Ya know you "guys" have a point I'm going to have to start calling everyone and everything an "It" I think.
 
  • #63
378
2
But that's not how we use the singular they. It's more like this.

"Whoever stole my lunch from the refrigerator, they are in big trouble!"
"Person who stole my lunch is in big trouble"

"I am going to crush the person who stole my lunch"

"I am going to eat the person who stole my lunch"

:biggrin:
 
  • #64
cobalt124
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I thought "singular they" was within the rules. It seems the best option.

@Jared, does Welsh have this problem?
 
  • #65
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@Jared, does Welsh have this problem?
Do you mean the accent (and 'slang' used be English speaking Welsh people) or the actual Welsh language?

If it's the latter then you'd probably want to ask someone who speaks Welsh. From my very limited knowledge of it, I believe it does.
 
  • #66
fuzzyfelt
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When writing, I use "he/she". However, there are many other good words like person, user, human.
I've written "he/she" too, but have wondered at the time why I don't write "she/he", or "s/he".
 
  • #67
cobalt124
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I meant the gender pronoun issue, but I will apologise for assuming that because you are Welsh, you are fluent in Welsh.
 
  • #68
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I meant the gender pronoun issue, but I will apologise for assuming that because you are Welsh, you are fluent in Welsh.
No apology necessary. Quite used to it now and I never take offence to it.

You'd be surprised at the number of times I've had people go into a "Hang on lads, this guy's Welsh. Speak slowly and clearly." mode when they first meet me.
 
  • #69
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16
No sir! I claim no such "authority," and I am aghast that I may have implied that I did. I am truly in the camp of "descriptive linguistics," which is why I am in favor of the use of the singular "they," not against it. I am truly surprised that this was not clear. This is a common spoken application across the English speaking world. So common in fact, that a person might not even notice when they use it. Invented forms of a neutral pronoun are clumsy and would never "catch on" since they are "prescriptive" in nature, and natural languages are disgusted by prescriptions.
Sorry, it seems I completely misread your post.
 
  • #70
Chi Meson
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Sorry, it seems I completely misread your post.
That one post of mine, by itself, could be considered ambiguous in intent I'll admit. But In context with this entire thread, I believe my opinion is quite clear.

Another thing that is clear: I use "quotes" far too much. It's "easier" than putting those self referential words into italics as would be "proper," but I'll try not to be so lazy in the "future."
 
  • #71
Chi Meson
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I've written "he/she" too, but have wondered at the time why I don't write "she/he", or "s/he".
My professor in grad school (where I got my MFA in Literature and Creative Writing--no joke, I did) had his opinion of s/he:

He thought it was s/hit.

Edit:
May I have my first warning ever now please?
 
  • #72
918
16
That one post of mine, by itself, could be considered ambiguous in intent I'll admit. But In context with this entire thread, I believe my opinion is quite clear.

Another thing that is clear: I use "quotes" far too much. It's "easier" than putting those self referential words into italics as would be "proper," but I'll try not to be so lazy in the "future."
"Hey, no problem, I completely understand."
 
  • #73
fuzzyfelt
Gold Member
751
4
My professor in grad school (where I got my MFA in Literature and Creative Writing--no joke, I did) had his opinion of s/he:

He thought it was s/hit.

Edit:
May I have my first warning ever now please?
:rofl:
May I have my first for quoting?
 

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