Re: Sexism and Pronouns

Subject: Re: Sexism and Pronouns
From: Wolf Lahti <wduby -at- TECHCENTER -dot- PACCAR -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 14:43:01 -0800

Marci Andrews predicted:

>I predict that "they" will evolve to mean the singular as
>well as the plural third person.

'They' has had a long-standing reputation as a perfectly acceptable singular
third-person pronoun, extending to Chaucer and before. It is only in
relatively recent times that the grammarians decided this was an
unacceptable usage. The opinion of such folks, however, has not changed its
usage, at least in spoken English.

An analysis by AHD revealed that its usage in writing is far more common
than the stylistic taboo would suggest. In fact, AHD points out that 'a
major British publisher' (unfortunately unidentified) gives its blessing to
the singular usage of they, their, and them in its dictionaries and other
reference books.

"I hate quotations."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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