"They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

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Anaxagoras
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"They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Anaxagoras »

I recently learned something interesting about the grammatical history of the English language:

"You" used to be plural (it still is grammatically plural: we say "you are" not "you is"). The singular form of "you" was "ye" or "thou." But nowadays nobody uses "ye" or "thou" anymore, and "you" is generally thought of as singular despite the fact that it is treated as plural for grammatical purposes.

Now it is becoming increasingly common for people to use "they" instead of "he" as a singular personal pronoun in cases where the sex of the person being referred to is undetermined. But traditionalists still resist this change, especially in writing. Why don't we all just embrace the change and get over it? Start teaching it in school. Put it in the style guides.
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Doctor X
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Doctor X »

Anaxagoras wrote:The singular form of "you" was "ye" or "thou."
Actually, "ye" was the second person plural--not to be confused with the "ye" that comes from the thorn [þ--Ed.] which preceded the digraph "th." So correct purveyors of "Ye Olde Butt Shoppe" by pronouncing it "The Shag Parlor."

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But nowadays nobody uses "ye"
They do in court.
Now it is becoming increasingly common for people to use "they" instead of "he" as a singular personal pronoun in cases where the sex of the person being referred to is undetermined. But traditionalists still resist this change, especially in writing. Why don't we all just embrace the change and get over it? Start teaching it in school. Put it in the style guides.
Madness.

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Anaxagoras
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Anaxagoras »

Doctor X wrote:They do in court.
"Hear ye, hear ye"

OK, sure. They also sometimes use words like "witnesseth" in contracts. But in the real world, it's a dead letter.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
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Doctor X
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Doctor X »

There is nothing more real than court.

--J.D.
Mob of the Mean: Free beanie, cattle-prod and Charley Fan Club!
"Doctor X is just treating you the way he treats everyone--as subhuman crap too dumb to breathe in after you breathe out."--Don
DocX: FTW.--sparks
"Doctor X wins again."--Pyrrho
"Never sorry to make a racist Fucktard cry."--His Humble MagNIfIcence
"It was the criticisms of Doc X, actually, that let me see more clearly how far the hypocrisy had gone."--clarsct
"I'd leave it up to Doctor X who has been a benevolent tyrant so far."--Grammatron
"Indeed you are a river to your people.
Shit. That's going to end up in your sig."--Pyrrho
"Try a twelve step program and accept Doctor X as your High Power."--asthmatic camel
"just like Doc X said." --gnome

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Rob Lister
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Rob Lister »

Anaxagoras wrote:Now it is becoming increasingly common for people to use "they" instead of "he" as a singular personal pronoun in cases where the sex of the person being referred to is undetermined. But traditionalists still resist this change, especially in writing. Why don't we all just embrace the change and get over it? Start teaching it in school. Put it in the style guides.
I have not seen they use that singularly in formal writing.

I would prefer it.

:)

it? which it?

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ed
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by ed »

Anaxagoras wrote:I recently learned something interesting about the grammatical history of the English language:

"You" used to be plural (it still is grammatically plural: we say "you are" not "you is"). The singular form of "you" was "ye" or "thou." But nowadays nobody uses "ye" or "thou" anymore, and "you" is generally thought of as singular despite the fact that it is treated as plural for grammatical purposes.

Now it is becoming increasingly common for people to use "they" instead of "he" as a singular personal pronoun in cases where the sex of the person being referred to is undetermined. But traditionalists still resist this change, especially in writing. Why don't we all just embrace the change and get over it? Start teaching it in school. Put it in the style guides.
If speaking to more than one person one might say "I want you to come over here". Still common.
I'll stick my neck out for YOU!!

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Doctor X
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Doctor X »

The need to specify plurality engendered "you all" and, of course, "y'all."

We should bring back "ye" since it is cool.

--J.D.
Mob of the Mean: Free beanie, cattle-prod and Charley Fan Club!
"Doctor X is just treating you the way he treats everyone--as subhuman crap too dumb to breathe in after you breathe out."--Don
DocX: FTW.--sparks
"Doctor X wins again."--Pyrrho
"Never sorry to make a racist Fucktard cry."--His Humble MagNIfIcence
"It was the criticisms of Doc X, actually, that let me see more clearly how far the hypocrisy had gone."--clarsct
"I'd leave it up to Doctor X who has been a benevolent tyrant so far."--Grammatron
"Indeed you are a river to your people.
Shit. That's going to end up in your sig."--Pyrrho
"Try a twelve step program and accept Doctor X as your High Power."--asthmatic camel
"just like Doc X said." --gnome

ImageWS CHAMPIONS X4!!!! ImageNBA CHAMPIONS!! Stanley Cup!Image SB CHAMPIONS X6!!!!!! Image

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Rob Lister
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by Rob Lister »

ed wrote:
Anaxagoras wrote:I recently learned something interesting about the grammatical history of the English language:

"You" used to be plural (it still is grammatically plural: we say "you are" not "you is"). The singular form of "you" was "ye" or "thou." But nowadays nobody uses "ye" or "thou" anymore, and "you" is generally thought of as singular despite the fact that it is treated as plural for grammatical purposes.

Now it is becoming increasingly common for people to use "they" instead of "he" as a singular personal pronoun in cases where the sex of the person being referred to is undetermined. But traditionalists still resist this change, especially in writing. Why don't we all just embrace the change and get over it? Start teaching it in school. Put it in the style guides.
If speaking to more than one person one might say "I want you to come over here". Still common.
Yankees hate yall.

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DrMatt
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Re: "They" as a gender-neutral singular pronoun

Post by DrMatt »

"Thou" and "Thee" were the familiar, only to be used with the closest of friends. The modern German cognates are "Du" and "Dich".
"You" and "Ye" were both the general plural and the formal singular, used with all but the closest of friends. The modern German cognate is "Sie", with "Sich" having been coopted in German for reflexive forms, as in: "Mein lieber Herr, gehen Sie und Sich ficken."
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