Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#41  Postby Ironclad » Sep 15, 2019 7:01 pm

scott1328 wrote:
Ironclad wrote:Woke.. microaggressions.. fucking spare me! This decade is full of pretensious baby wimps. Grow the hell up

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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#42  Postby scott1328 » Sep 15, 2019 7:49 pm

au contraire, madame, i chose a pronoun for you for my own convenience, i gave no consideration to your preferences whatsoever. so stop whining.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#43  Postby Ironclad » Sep 15, 2019 8:24 pm

I am so hurt right now.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#44  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 16, 2019 12:44 am

Destroyer wrote:Exactly.

Language has one purpose: to convey meaning! It matters not, whether I use the word turkey, when what I am actually referring to is a dog. All that matters is that the recipient of language grasps the exact meaning of its usage.



Right, but concurrent with that is the universality of meaning within that language. While you can of course use the word turkey to mean dog, you cant expect other people to know what you mean unless you first explicitly tell them that you're doing so, similarly you can't expect them to start using turkey instead of dog, and finally and most importantly, if everyone goes round changing words to suit their taste then no one would have a bloody clue what everyone else is talking about as language would become entirely personal and lose its universality of meaning.

I don't see any problem where a binary appellation system is deemed not fit for function, and so another word is sought to not be obliged to fit into that system; but it's a long road to having hand-crafted pronouns enter the language and arrive at fixity across the population. Seems to me that 'they' just solves all the trouble.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#45  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 16, 2019 12:49 am

Ironclad wrote:I am so hurt right now.


It's ok; they will gets over it.

Right after they puts the lotion on their skin.

/horror twist
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#46  Postby Ironclad » Sep 16, 2019 2:13 am

:tehe:
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#47  Postby Spinozasgalt » Sep 16, 2019 7:26 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:This has come up a lot recently with some non-binary individuals wanting to be referred to as 'they/them' and people arguing that it's ungrammatical (as if grammar isn't just codified usage). But one thing you often hear as an argument as to why it is grammatical is that singular they has existed for centuries and indeed Shakespeare himself used it. It's basically an argument from history that it's valid because it's not actually a new usage. However, when people give examples, they tend to give examples that are not the same usage.

Where are people having this argument in this way? Show me what it looks like in the wild. I want to see if you've framed it correctly.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#48  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 16, 2019 7:57 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:This has come up a lot recently with some non-binary individuals wanting to be referred to as 'they/them' and people arguing that it's ungrammatical (as if grammar isn't just codified usage). But one thing you often hear as an argument as to why it is grammatical is that singular they has existed for centuries and indeed Shakespeare himself used it. It's basically an argument from history that it's valid because it's not actually a new usage. However, when people give examples, they tend to give examples that are not the same usage.

Where are people having this argument in this way? Show me what it looks like in the wild. I want to see if you've framed it correctly.

It's mainly something I've come across on Twitter, where I imagine it's just people parroting something they've read somewhere else, but here's a proper article making the argument. Note the linking of old examples of the indefinite usage of singular they to the situation of a person you know asking to refer to them as.....well, them (perfect example right there).

Just for the record, I have no problem with the idea of this new use of 'they' for referring to non-binary people and I think it's much better, and probably more likely to be taken up than by trying to introduce a new set of words like xe and xer (which inexplicably for invented words have needlessly complicated things by having separate subject and object forms). My doubt is purely with the argument that it isn't a new usage. What they're effectively doing is fighting the grammatical prescriptivists on their own terms, by claiming that they're not changing the language at all, whereas what they should be doing is arguing that the language should change to reflect modern society. This is why I put it in the linguistics section, rather than the current affairs section, because I'm mainly interested in fact checking this linguistic argument that I'd seen floating around Twitter.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#49  Postby laklak » Sep 16, 2019 8:29 am

Forsooth, sir, our language doth ofttimes change.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#50  Postby Spinozasgalt » Sep 16, 2019 8:35 am

I can't really see it. In that article it only notes that Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen etc. used the "singular they". It doesn't ascribe to them the definite or indefinite usage. And it provides this:
dictionary.com wrote:Fast forward to this century when The American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year was the gender-neutral singular use of they. This vote, as it happened, came just after the late Bill Walsh, a copyeditor at the Washington Post, announced that the newspaper’s official style guide now allows the use of gender-neutral singular they. He called the use of they “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.”

That, especially the last part, seems to note that this is new usage building on old precedent. I would say, at worst, that they're just guilty of some ambiguity.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#51  Postby Destroyer » Sep 16, 2019 10:08 am

Spearthrower wrote:
Destroyer wrote:Exactly.

Language has one purpose: to convey meaning! It matters not, whether I use the word turkey, when what I am actually referring to is a dog. All that matters is that the recipient of language grasps the exact meaning of its usage.



Right, but concurrent with that is the universality of meaning within that language. While you can of course use the word turkey to mean dog, you cant expect other people to know what you mean unless you first explicitly tell them that you're doing so, similarly you can't expect them to start using turkey instead of dog, and finally and most importantly, if everyone goes round changing words to suit their taste then no one would have a bloody clue what everyone else is talking about as language would become entirely personal and lose its universality of meaning.

I don't see any problem where a binary appellation system is deemed not fit for function, and so another word is sought to not be obliged to fit into that system; but it's a long road to having hand-crafted pronouns enter the language and arrive at fixity across the population. Seems to me that 'they' just solves all the trouble.

Of course. The whole point about the analogy of using turkey instead of dog, is that the recipient is already in the know: hence their grasping of the meaning. But if one goes about using words to convey what is not generally meant by them, then confusion is sure to set in
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#52  Postby zoon » Sep 16, 2019 10:18 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:....
Just for the record, I have no problem with the idea of this new use of 'they' for referring to non-binary people and I think it's much better, and probably more likely to be taken up than by trying to introduce a new set of words like xe and xer (which inexplicably for invented words have needlessly complicated things by having separate subject and object forms). My doubt is purely with the argument that it isn't a new usage. What they're effectively doing is fighting the grammatical prescriptivists on their own terms, by claiming that they're not changing the language at all, whereas what they should be doing is arguing that the language should change to reflect modern society. This is why I put it in the linguistics section, rather than the current affairs section, because I'm mainly interested in fact checking this linguistic argument that I'd seen floating around Twitter.

Perhaps also fighting the grammatical prescriptivists on their own ground by pointing out that it's traditional for pronouns to change on occasion, as when "thou" was replaced by "you" in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Spearthrower commented in post #8 of this thread that the use of "they" as a singular is becoming commoner in London, though less so in the rest of the UK, and the same seems to have been the case when "thou" was being replaced by "you". Quoting from Wikipedia here:
Fairly suddenly in the 17th century, thou began to decline in the standard language (that is, particularly in and around London), often regarded as impolite or ambiguous in terms of politeness. It persisted, sometimes in an altered form, particularly in regional dialects of England and Scotland farther from London,[15] as well as in the language of such religious groups as the Society of Friends.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#53  Postby I'm With Stupid » Sep 19, 2019 2:28 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:I can't really see it. In that article it only notes that Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen etc. used the "singular they". It doesn't ascribe to them the definite or indefinite usage. And it provides this:
dictionary.com wrote:Fast forward to this century when The American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year was the gender-neutral singular use of they. This vote, as it happened, came just after the late Bill Walsh, a copyeditor at the Washington Post, announced that the newspaper’s official style guide now allows the use of gender-neutral singular they. He called the use of they “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.”

That, especially the last part, seems to note that this is new usage building on old precedent. I would say, at worst, that they're just guilty of some ambiguity.

Fair enough. That was just an example I found for you, but as I said, I see it mainly in Twitter discussions where that qualifier isn't used, probably because people don't actually know it. That was what made me start the thread.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#54  Postby LucidFlight » Sep 19, 2019 3:06 am

"I spoke to Sam and they said to come over later."

FWIW, I can see where confusion might arise. For instances where "they" refers to Sam (definite usage?), I suggest something like "xey" for the, uh, gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.

"I spoke to Sam and xey said to come over later."
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#55  Postby Thommo » Sep 19, 2019 7:25 am

I've nothing against the singular they, my "common sense" tells me that it's been occasionally used for both a person of nonspecified gender and an unknown person throughout my life and I've acquired this usage myself.

From the point of view of linguistic clarity I do like the idea of a separate pronoun to refer to a person of in-between or nonspecified gender as opposed to a specific or nonspecific person of as yet undetermined gender. I absolutely loathe all the words beginning with x though: xe, xer etc. They don't conform to my expectation of English. Ze, zer etc. appeal much more, although inevitably I will fall into using whatever catches on, which I expect something other than they ultimately will.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#56  Postby scott1328 » Sep 19, 2019 7:35 am

i prefer rephrasing if possible. for example, LucidFlight’s sentence: “When we spoke, Sam said to come over later”. If rephrasing leads to even more awkward wording, I will use singular they/them. I have not been asked to use the odd pronouns xe/xim. It is regrettable that the singular, neuter pronoun has become the very epitome of dehumanizing, objectifying speech.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#57  Postby Spearthrower » Sep 19, 2019 7:56 am

LucidFlight wrote:"I spoke to Sam and they said to come over later."

FWIW, I can see where confusion might arise. For instances where "they" refers to Sam (definite usage?), ...



That is propa English as far as I'm concerned!

I'd even say:

I spoke to Sam and they said they were* coming over later

So if you all just speak this horrid north London dialect, all these problems will simply go away, innit?


Note I wouldn't use 'was' which means I must have the middle class version of my horrid north London dialect... um, isn't it?
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#58  Postby Fallible » Sep 19, 2019 12:10 pm

Ya get me, blud?
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#59  Postby laklak » Sep 19, 2019 2:28 pm

Our Sam's comin over later.
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Re: Gender pronouns - the singular 'they'

#60  Postby Ironclad » Sep 19, 2019 8:16 pm

How do we pronounce xe, xer etc?
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