• UnderSampled (unregistered) in reply to Olivier

    Singular 'they' is still used with "plural" conjugations. No-one ever has said "They hasn't", nor will they.

    This shift has happened once before, in the English language, and I think it's interesting no-one else has mentioned it. That shift was to the use of the singular 'you'. Early modern English (think Shakespeare and King James) had the Second person singular 'Thou', 'Thee', 'Thy', and 'Thine', which match roughly the First person Singular 'I', 'Me', My', and 'Mine' respectfully, as well as the second person 'You', 'Ye', 'Your', and 'yours'.

    We've obviously simplified a lot since then, so simplifying a little further should be expected as we keep bringing in more languages to the mix (English was a thorough mix of Romantic and Germanic languages, and we've only just added more), and more speakers. A lot of the people in this thread have even said that it is not their first language, and this discussion is here because of complexities which may be smoothed out over time.

    Even without the gender-neutrality discussion, think about this: English has only one (regular) conjugation. To conjugate the verb "to run": I run, We run, You run (singular), You run (plural), He/She/it runs, They run. Only the singular third person is inflected, adding an 's' -- wouldn't it be nice to new learners not to have to remember this? (Side note, in the American South, we say "you all run", and make a contraction: "y'all run")

    For current English though, remember that the singular they is for ambiguous gender (not neuter like 'it'), and so if a gender becomes known, you cannot go back to using the singular they.

  • StopGrammarTime (unregistered) in reply to 🤷

    *its

  • X (unregistered) in reply to Cidolfas

    "but in North America at least, it's now considered the least offensive way of referring to someone if they haven't specified their preferred pronoun."

    Is it so well established by now, that the majority is NOT offended by people NOT using their physical appearance to decide the default noun? At least in the environments I've been in, you have a higher chance of offending people by not defaulting to male/female.

  • Neveralull (unregistered)

    I would refer those people commenting on the use of the singular “they” to read Steven Pinker’s wonderfully informative and entertaining book “ The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century” which discusses that issue and hundreds of others.

    “ Is the English language being corrupted by texting and social media? Do the kids today even care about good writing—and why should we care?

    In this entertaining and eminently practical book, the cognitive scientist, dictionary consultant, and New York Times–bestselling author Steven Pinker rethinks the usage guide for the twenty-first century. Using examples of great and gruesome modern prose while avoiding the scolding tone and Spartan tastes of the classic manuals, he shows how the art of writing can be a form of pleasurable mastery and a fascinating intellectual topic in its own right. “

    https://stevenpinker.com/publications/sense-style-thinking-persons-guide-writing-21st-century

  • Rodd Tundgren (unregistered) in reply to Naomi

    Nicely argued Naomi. I'm convinced anyhow.

  • eric bloedow (unregistered)

    reminds me of a story i heard: someone forgot to add something to the beginning of a program to indicate what program LANGUAGE it was written in before trying to run it, so the old computer produced an entire "core dump" for the FIRST instruction, AND an entire "core dump" for the SECOND instruction, and so on and so on...ending up with a ten foot PILE of printed errors!

  • Shut the fuck up (unregistered) in reply to Ignácz

    Shut the fuck up

  • (nodebb) in reply to masonwheeler

    Unless they're a clown, in which case it's expected :-)

    Addendum 2020-02-05 15:20: In response to: "In English, as others have pointed out, this is actually quite normal. Calling a person "it" is the dehumanizing pronoun."

  • MiserableOldGit (unregistered) in reply to Olivier
    Though not yet very natural :) We are talking about singular "they" so it should read "but in North America at least, it's now considered the least offensive way of referring to someone if they HASN'T specified their preferred pronoun". Now that sounds gross!

    The verb conjugates by the pronoun, not whatever you know or think the reality is, so "they" is always have/are/go etc. It's not only ambiguous gender, it's also used for ambiguity over quantity.

    So best stick with it until you know the "person" you are referring to self-identifies as one individual. I'd elaborate, but "the voices" are telling me to leave it at that.

  • MiserableOldGit (unregistered) in reply to Olivier
    Though not yet very natural :) We are talking about singular "they" so it should read "but in North America at least, it's now considered the least offensive way of referring to someone if they HASN'T specified their preferred pronoun". Now that sounds gross!

    The verb conjugates by the pronoun, not whatever you know or think the reality is, so "they" is always have/are/go etc. It's not only ambiguous gender, it's also used for ambiguity over quantity.

    So best stick with it until you know the "person" you are referring to self-identifies as one individual. I'd elaborate, but "the voices" are telling me to leave it at that.

  • toaster (unregistered) in reply to Naomi
    Leslie's coworker has, shall we say, interesting ideas on source control. When called on it, he'd always say he wants to "get it done", corporate bigwigs be damned!

    Am I implying that Leslie's coworker is male? It's legitimately unclear. But s/\bhe\b/they/g and the ambiguity evaporates! So, inclusivity aside, there's a pretty simple linguistic argument in favor of the singular "they" over the generic "he".

    I think this example is a bit flawed: he here refers to a single, specific individual - Leslie's coworker. So I find he not to be ambiguous at all but instead it clearly indentifies the coworker as male. If the cowoker's gender is unknown or unspecified this of course would be wrong and they should better be used instead.

    On the other hand when refering to an unspecified indvidual or one out of a (mixed) group of indviduals with unspecified gender defaulting to the male pronoun as many languages do should be recognizable as a generic he:

    The good developer tests all code changes he made before commiting.
  • (nodebb) in reply to Chris

    The only problem with "they" as a singular, non-gender specific pronoun, is that it gives away the fact that you aren't sure what gender the person in question is. It's OK when you've received a written submission online, but if you're standing right next to them...

    It's entirely possible to stand right next to someone and not know what their preferred pronouns are

  • BobE (unregistered) in reply to jkshapiro

    I had to come back and revisit this one. Back in my younger days, when men wore their hair longer, and my hair had beautiful ringlets down to my shoulders . . . we had just moved to a new town where my father assumed the position of office manager. On his second or third day at the office, he was standing with two of his new, female, coworkers as they chatted about the state of the world. The conversation went something like this.

    LADY 1: Hair styles are so ridiculous these days, you can't tell the boys from the girls any more. Take that one crossing the street, is that a guy or is that a girl? LADY 2: It's easy to tell them apart. Stand 'em sideways. If they have t!ts it's a girl. MY DAD (barely able to hold back his mirth): Ladies I'd like to introduce you to my son.

    And the point? You can't always tell what pronoun to apply.

  • Anon (unregistered) in reply to BobE

    So you also have t!ts?

  • Nex (unregistered) in reply to Naomi

    There is no such thing as a singular "they."

  • MiserableOldGit (unregistered) in reply to Nex

    Tell Jane Austen that.

  • 🤷 (unregistered) in reply to StopGrammarTime

    *its

    Thanks. It's (this time used correctly) one of those things I will always get wrong, even though I try my hardest to get it right. Maybe it has to do with the fact that in my native language we mostly use the ' where english doesn't, and vice versa. Why does language always have to be so complicated? :(

    About the whole grammatical gender debate: We all should just get rid of grammatical genders. Like finnish. They call everyone "hän". "Hän" can be man or woman. How easy everything would be if we'd just get rid of "he/she" and maybe call everyone just "xhe", or whatever...

  • Bubba (unregistered)

    So a vanishingly small bunch of dickheads decide they want to be different because nobody is paying any attention to their boring shallow selves, and now we're all being dragged into moronic debate over pronoun usage. Fuck off. I don't care what color you dye your hair, nor how 'edgy' you think you are - you're male or female. He or she. Got a problem with that? Shake your tiny impotent fists at the gods of biology. Jesus fucking Christ what is wrong with these people?

  • Airtel Lottery (unregistered)
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