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5E Mearls' "Firing" tweet

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Elfcrusher

Explorer
I went to school in New England, that counts right
Only if it was the University of Maine at Orono. (Ok, bonus points if it was UM Presque Isle.)

Otherwise you were just another stinkin' tourist.

Favorite bumper sticker: "It's called TOURIST SEASON so why can't I shoot them?"
 

epithet

Explorer
I got tired of linguistics discussions so I jumped 5 pages ahead to find...the same linguistic discussion with the same arguments being made.

Is this discussion going anywhere other than people just repeating their same points hoping the other person just lets them have the last word?
Can't speak for anyone else, but it definitely went somewhere for me. Specifically, it went away, once it became clear that the proponents of singular use of plural pronouns weren't actually talking about grammar but were instead talking about ideology. I can go around and around on grammar, but faith and politics? No thanks.
 

Eltab

Villager
As one example, I am specifically thinking about a friend of mine, born and raised in Georgia, came north only after college. He will walk into a room in which there's only one person, and ask, "How y'all doin'?"
"Y'all" is contagious.
My HS German teacher told us students about a friend of his, came from Germany to the US (Tennessee IIRC) after WW2, went back home for his HS class' 25th reunion. He walked into the room full of native German-speakers and in a thick Southern accent said "Guten tag, y'all …"
 

Psyzhran2357

Villager
Can't speak for anyone else, but it definitely went somewhere for me. Specifically, it went away, once it became clear that the proponents of singular use of plural pronouns weren't actually talking about grammar but were instead talking about ideology. I can go around and around on grammar, but faith and politics? No thanks.
I mean, for some of us, challenging the assumed objectivity of dominant worldviews isn't a matter of the politics bugbear, but of basic human decency, but whatever. Us humanities students get undue crap flung at us.

Anyhow, I'm home. I have the brick on my desk that's giving me nightmares. The brick with the giant number 17 on the cover.

Section 5.48 of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style discourages use of the singular "they" in formal writing except when used in reference to a person who does not identify with a gender specific pronoun.

Section 5.252: "Either approach [use of generic he vs. use of he/she and/or singular they] sacrifices credibility with some readers."

Section 5.255 gives a nine item list of techniques to achieve gender neutrality in generic reference. The abridged list:
1. Omit the pronoun.
2. Repeat the noun.
3. Use a plural antecedent.
4. Use an article instead of a pronoun.
5. Use the singular pronoun one.
6. Use the relative pronoun who.
7. Use the imperative mood.
8. In moderation, use he or she.
9. Revise the sentence

Do you have the latest edition of APA or MLA for comparison and contrast as to their approach?
 

Eltab

Villager
Can't speak for anyone else, but it definitely went somewhere for me. Specifically, it went away, once it became clear that the proponents of singular use of plural pronouns weren't actually talking about grammar but were instead talking about ideology. I can go around and around on grammar, but faith and politics? No thanks.
Hey, look - leftovers !

I have taken the singular 'they' to be inspired by the Royal 'We', but referring to somebody who is not member of a house of royalty.
Because in English, 'it' implies an inanimate object.
 

DEFCON 1

Hero
I think what actually happened is that some of us were discussing "y'all" and how Texas wasn't part of the South ...

and then OF COURSE someone from New England had to come in and ruin everything because we weren't talking about New England and something something the Patriots are all just misunderstood something something GOODELL IS THE REAL CHEATER AND BRADY IS THE GOAT something something IM NOT A BANDWAGON FAN, IMA WEAR MY PINK RED SAWKS HAT SINCE 2014 something something yeah, I went to school in New England, that counts right something something you just don't get it, we really are long suffering, I mean, the Celtics didn't even make it to the finals this year blah blah blah LOOK AT ME, DID YOU KNOW WE PLAY SPORTS AND STUFF? YANKEES SUCK. GRONK 4-EVAH!

How you like dem apples?
You forgot to mention the "BROOOOOOOOOOOOOOONS!"
 

Hussar

Legend
[MENTION=6796566]epithet[/MENTION] - to be honest, I find it hard to believe that you would think that this is a purely grammatical issue. It takes a special kind of myopia to look at gender roles in language and think, "Well, we'll ignore that massive cultural and historical baggage with this issue and focus entirely on the stuff that no one other than grammarians actually care about" and then stand back with wide eyed innocence when no one else wants to ignore the massive cultural and historical baggage.

I mean, do you honestly expect me to believe that you are that oblivious to to social and political ramifications of the discussion?
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I’ve never met an actual linguist who had any problem with newer uses of terms, or any other sort of much decried colloquial trend.

Language is inherently non-prescriptive. Dictionaries and style guide describe norms and collective expectations, and must always try to catch up to language as it changes. Dictionaries catch up much faster, because style guides concern themselves more directly with formal and professional writing norms, rather than conversational spoken language, but both change with the times. They do not set the rules, they describe the norms. There are no actual rules.

If you are clearly understood, your language accomplishes the goals by which you choose your words, you are speaking correctly.
 

Bacon Bits

Explorer
I’ve never met an actual linguist who had any problem with newer uses of terms, or any other sort of much decried colloquial trend.
Me, either. Granted, I have not met many linguists. Most, however, are more fascinated with semantics and meaning than syntax and grammar.

Language is inherently non-prescriptive. Dictionaries and style guide describe norms and collective expectations, and must always try to catch up to language as it changes. Dictionaries catch up much faster, because style guides concern themselves more directly with formal and professional writing norms, rather than conversational spoken language, but both change with the times. They do not set the rules, they describe the norms. There are no actual rules.
Eh, kind of. Many languages have language regulators or academies that proscribe the language with varying levels of authority. English is somewhat notable for being so widely spoken and not having any language regulator at all.

And dictionaries do have a major impact on languages. English has changed relatively slowly -- particularly with spelling -- since the invention of the printing press first allowed for widespread publication of dictionaries. Periodically there have been pushes in English to reform spelling, with varying degrees of success. Mark Twain was a notable critic of the American spelling reforms in the 19th century (though that "Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling" is apocryphal).

If you are clearly understood, your language accomplishes the goals by which you choose your words, you are speaking correctly.
Agreed. If, no matter how you communicate, the idea in your head is successfully communicated to your audience, then then you've been successful. Language is extremely complex and abstract. Much of what is meant is not communicated explicitly. That's why it's vital that we strive to interpret what others say in the most favorable light.

For my part, I have no problem with "they" as a singular, and I would question any native English speaker who doesn't find this exchange perfectly cromulent:

A: I saw my doctor today.
B: What did they say?
 

Gradine

Archivist
Yeah, it's important to note that acceptance of singular they is both an issue of respect AND also grammatically correct. To the extent that there's no actual reason to resist it from a grammatical perspective.

Which only calls into question why some people still do.
 

Morrus

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, it's important to note that acceptance of singular they is both an issue of respect AND also grammatically correct. To the extent that there's no actual reason to resist it from a grammatical perspective.

Which only calls into question why some people still do.
Exactly. Arguing against the human condition because it bothers you *grammatically* does not say good things about you or your priorities.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
Yeah, I think I unborked it.

This is BY FAR the strongest citation I've seen for a "singular they" that goes back centuries as opposed to one that is a relatively recent fad. "Man" is an incredibly clear cut singular antecedent paired with a very explicit use of "their". I have no refutation for this particular citation, I think it's pretty solid.

It doesn't change the fact that I was taught from preschool through kindergarten through primary school through elementary school through middle school through high school through and through the style guides I've referred to as an author that "they" is a plural pronoun.
If course the “just because it’s been done for a long time doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong” argument cuts both ways. There is certainly plenty of precedent for style guides calling singular they incorrect, but that’s not a good reason not to use singular they.

It's always going to feel incredibly, shriekingly, gratingly wrong to me to use it or see it used as a singular pronoun, like nails on a chalkboard. I'm still going to make every effort to refer to individuals by their preferred pronouns.
That’s the most important thing, in my opinion. We don’t have to agree whether or not singular they is grammatically correct, so long as we agree that calling people what they want to be called is more important than grammar.
 

epithet

Explorer
Yeah, it's important to note that acceptance of singular they is both an issue of respect AND also grammatically correct. To the extent that there's no actual reason to resist it from a grammatical perspective.

Which only calls into question why some people still do.
It is neither. It has nothing to do with respect, which is earned and should not be assumed. You're confusing respect with courtesy, which is the reason to address a person in the manner requested. I can call you what you want to be called and have no respect at all for you, just as easily as I can respect your accomplishments without doing what you ask me to do.

Let's be clear--I'm not "resisting" anything. Even if I were in a position to change people's minds, or if more than a handful of people actually cared one way or another about my opinion, this isn't a thing worth a high level of engagement. "They" and "them" are plural, but if you want to be called by plural pronouns it's not the end of the world. I'm just not going to agree that it's grammatically correct. If you are one of the very, very few people who actually care about my opinion, well... too bad.
 

epithet

Explorer
Exactly. Arguing against the human condition because it bothers you *grammatically* does not say good things about you or your priorities.
Look dude, it's your site so you can say whatever you want--I understand that--but I have to take issue with your characterization. I am not arguing "against the human condition." People's humanity isn't a factor of their genders, their pronouns, or their grammar.
 
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