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OK, first off I apologize for being away from this discussion board for so long. I've had my hands full with other matters. Something has come up, however, that I think may be of interest to WordCrafters.

I recently submitted this limerick to the OEDILF site (a dictionary project at oedilf.com that had its beginnings here on WordCraft back in 2004):

In the terminal hole-digging biz,
The position of gravedigger is
No one's gold mine, and yet
We should never forget
Job security clearly is his.

with the following author's note:

...or, in these enlightened times, hers.

Fellow OEDILFer rusty then commented:

If you wanna be really enlightened, timewise, the author's note should read:

...or, in these enlightened times, hers/theirs.

I'm guessing though, that you don't.

to which I replied:

If you're talking about individuals identifying themselves with the "they" pronoun (is it the transgender community that is now trying to foist this nonsense upon us?), then yes, absolutely. The first time I read something like "Ms Oneperson went shopping and they returned at 8," I wasted some five or ten minutes rereading several earlier paragraphs looking for someone I had thought I had overlooked. Please!

I decided to post the above in our Forum to encourage a wider discussion of this subject in the full realization that I will likely come off as some sort of lexicographical old fogey, but I do love the English language, and I am offended at what I perceive to be an assault on it with this "their" business. The word has a long-established meaning and it is one that has nothing to do with my Ms Oneperson example above.

Yes, English is a growing, ever-changing language, but changes of this sort, IMO, introduce unnecessary chaos to our oral and written interactions with each other. Any major change of this magnitude will be extremely difficult to bring about, but if a pronoun shift is in the offing, as is apparently the case, may I suggest that we would all be better off adopting one of the newly coined pronouns concocted exactly for situations like this?

Your thoughts?
 
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As I have mentioned before - both here and elsewhere - singular they/them/their has been around for over seven hundred years. No one even thought to criticize it until the eighteenth century. If it was good enough for Shakespeare and Dickens then it’s good enough for me. I wonder how long it will be before it’s good enough for the prescriptivists.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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One can also use "one," just as I'm doing. But I suppose the schizophrenics will complain. Both of them.

Glad to see you again, CJ!
 
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I am in no way a language historian, but I strongly suspect that if one were to speak like Shakespeare or Dickens today, chances are you would not be communicating effectively with your reader/listener.

I am totally comfortable with using "one" (see the first sentence of this post), but that device would not work in the Ms Oneperson example I gave. And I might mention that I pride myself on not being rigid when it comes to changes of this sort. After the newness wore off, I quickly became comfortable with the term "gay," as in "non-straight," and I was at the forefront regarding the use of "Ms" back when I was in the Air Force, which, as you may have heard, is a rather conservative organization, linguistically and otherwise.
 
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All true but my point was that "they/their/etc" has been in continuous use for a VERY long time and can hardly be considered "new".


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Quite so, not new, as is "gay" connoting homosexuality, but it still makes me snicker. I thing of "Don we now our gay apparel..." or "Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Hmmm... Ties in with your gravediggers, eh, CJ?

I'm annoyed not by they/them so much as by the "trendy" use of Lambda for the Roman letter "A" Just how are we going to type that other than inverting "V?"
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff:
Quite so, not new, as is "gay" connoting homosexuality, but it still makes me snicker. I thing of "Don we now our gay apparel..." or "Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Hmmm... Ties in with your gravediggers, eh, CJ?

I'm annoyed not by they/them so much as by the "trendy" use of Lambda for the Roman letter "A" Just how are we going to type that other than inverting "V?"
Example: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/
 
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I have to admit, Geoff, I just don't know what you were linking to there.

I write a lot for my job and have always struggled with the whole "he/she" thing. It just seems awkward. Yet, when APA came out with using "they" as a singular pronoun, I have to admit, I just can't do it. I change the sentence around if at all possible. Maybe it's just habit? I don't know.
 
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And of course, there is also the whole political correctness pronoun situation again. I recently received an email from someone with her name and the a dash and she, her. I guess this is a sign of the times.
 
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We have talked about this many times. Singular they has been around for centuries. And I'm perfectly happy to refer to anyone by the pronouns they would like me to use. The many objection to He/she or in speech "he or she" is that it gets very clunky to use when it occurs several times in a sentence "Every student should now take out his or her pen and paper, write his or her name at the top of each page and ensure that his or her calculator is turned off until he or she has completed the exam and left the room."


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Well, "it" is neutral. But that would probably go over like a lead balloon.
 
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Perhaps refer to people according to what position they assume while urinating, "wall pissers" and "squat pissers?" The bible thumpers should approve since this construction is used in several places in the King James bible.

As for "It," didn't Gollum use it in "Lord of The Rings?"
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff:
Perhaps refer to people according to what position they assume while urinating, "wall pissers" and "squat pissers?" The bible thumpers should approve since this construction is used in several places in the King James bible.

As for "It," didn't Gollum use it in "Lord of The Rings?"


But then you will have to add bed-pissers, trouser-leg-pissers, chamber-pot pissers and a host of others and before you know where you are you will have a whole alphabet again. Personally I used to sometimes identify as an "under-the-railway-bridge pisser" when I had had too much beer to make it all the way home.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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Aww, Bob, you're just taking the piss. Big Grin
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff:
Aww, Bob, you're just taking the piss. Big Grin

That's what I was doing under the railway bridge (which, by the way, happens to be true).


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.
 
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quote:
We have talked about this many times. Singular they has been around for centuries. And I'm perfectly happy to refer to anyone by the pronouns they would like me to use. The many objection to He/she or in speech "he or she" is that it gets very clunky to use when it occurs several times in a sentence "Every student should now take out his or her pen and paper, write his or her name at the top of each page and ensure that his or her calculator is turned off until he or she has completed the exam and left the room."

Actually, this is a fairly current subject, I think. I don't remember a whole of of conversation about it here. We recently sent out a survey to nursing programs with many questions, one of which was on demographics. The number of deans/directors who reported have many students in the "other" gender category was quite surprising.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
 
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I just had an email exchange with my Argentinian teacher of our LatAm Lit course on this. He’d suggested some novels going forward & apologized that there were no female authors among them. [Background: Argentina is way ahead of US in cultural liberalism, leading the world in legislation supporting transgender identity recognition, jobs, et al.]

I tried to quip [in Spanish] that we should call them “autorx” [instead of “autores”] since it wasn’t their fault they were males. He responded that that particular noun is not so easy to ‘neutralize.’ There is no ‘autora’—‘autor’ is grammatically masculine but covers both genders. He says you can do it with an “e” in “chica/ chico” [young woman/ man] for example: “chique” is the newly-accepted ‘neutral.’ I’m still trying to understand his email, but apparently if you have a noun like “Latino/ Latina”, you can easily neutralize it via ”Latinx.” Not so easy with a technically masculine noun like “autor” that covers both genders… ??
 
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Since Latin-based languages have genders that have nothing to do with sex, why can't they have sexes that have nothing to do with genders?

How does one pronounce the "x"? It's such a maligned letter.
 
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Big Grin

Although the letter x (as you recite the alphabet) is pronounced "eeks", when you use it as a neutral ending, you say "eks" [as in English]
 
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I've heard it pronounced "ekes" as well.

I said "maligned" above because in English we use it as a "z" in Xerxes and xylophone, "eks" in X-ray, and "ks" in "exponent. It's Rodney Dangerfield's letter; it don't get no respect!
 
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When I recite the alphabet, I pronounce x like "eks."
 
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