Re: use of he/she/they

Subject: Re: use of he/she/they
From: John F Renish <John_F_Renish -at- NOTES -dot- SEAGATE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 13:05:30 -0500

Scot Herron sez:

>> Geoff Hart says correctly that one can always write around the problem
>> elegantly without violating the rules of grammar, including avoiding the
>> singular "they". Hear him.
>I agree with all of this except the word "always." And "odious."
>You find singular "they" odious. Some people find the traditional
>wording to be more odious. Both are widely held, but far from universal
>opinions. Doubtless we will be seeing a lot both constructions in

... thereby setting up a false dichotomy: I never suggested, nor did Geoff
Hart, that generic "he" was acceptable today (although it had been for some
centuries before the 1960s). And yes, I find the singular "they" odious because
it violates the rule that verbs must agree in number with their subjects. It
causes the discerning reader to stumble and confirms in the uneducated or
politically didactic a false "rightness". For the life of me, I cannot
understand why anybody would employ the singular "they" while carefully
avoiding such ungrammatical structures _everywhere_ else.

>Finally, John F Renish quoted:

>> "A gentleman never unintentionally gives offense."
>> --John Paul Jones
>Interesting choice.

It's why I avoid "he" generically. Apparently subtlety is too fine a tool to
apply to this topic.

John_F_Renish -at- notes -dot- seagate -dot- com
My remarks do not represent any other person or entity
"A gentleman never unintentionally gives offense."
--John Paul Jones

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