Tag Archives: singular they

Singular they and women

Back and forth to Berlin last week, for the Wild Publics conference organised by Theresa Heyd and Britta Schneider. There were two papers on prescriptivism, my own (Codification – prescription – prescriptivism: The authority of the lay-person) and one by … Continue reading

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His, his or her, their

If people think singular they is a new feature in the English language, arising out of the need to express gender neutrality: it isn’t. There was already an article about the pronoun in 1975, by Ann Bodine. Very well worth … Continue reading

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Washington Post accepts singular they or Newspaper style guides as language authorities

Today one of the top trending tweets on the topic of English usage was “Washington Post will allow singular they”.  The same Post memo stating that they is now okay included the style guide updates regarding the spelling of email, website, … Continue reading

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Adding the Mx: Gender-neutral titles and pronouns

In the Q&A section of the Chicago Manual of Style Online, a question was posed about editing out they as a personal pronoun in reference to a transgender person. Here is the disputed sentence:  “During Harry’s senior year, they were … Continue reading

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And then there were 4

After Grammar Girl’s Top 10 Grammar Myths in 2010 and the Guardian’s 10 grammar rules you can forget three years later, linguist and author Arika Okrent joins the usage problem shortlisting club with her 4 Fake Grammar Rules You Don’t … Continue reading

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Thumbs up for IKEA!

One of Simon Heffer‘s pet hates is the use of singular they: “Being a pedant,” he writes, “I regard [its use] unacceptable” (2010:110). Unacceptable or not, singular they, as Mittins et al. point out in Attitudes to English Usage (1970!), has been … Continue reading

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Editing out singular they?

This was a question Klazien Tilstra, a BA student from the University of Leiden, asked the members of SENSE a few months ago. If you wish to find out the answer, read the summary of her BA thesis on this … Continue reading

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Jane Austen and prescriptivism

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On the subject of what is called singular they (Everyone has their off-days) Mittins et al. write that Jane Austen “uniformly employs this usage”. The authors refer to S.A. Leonard’s Doctrine of Correctness in English Usage (1929) here, where we … Continue reading

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