Author Topic: Episode #700  (Read 25647 times)

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Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #135 on: December 24, 2018, 02:01:04 AM »
Here is a great piece by McWhorter on the singular they:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/the-new-they/568993/

The first example John McWhorter provides:

Ariela isn’t wearing the green one.  They think it’s time to wear their other one,

is just incoherent.

It should be:

Ariela isn’t wearing the green one.  They think it’s time for her to wear her other one.

If you persist in claiming that you can use ‘they’ as a 3rd person singular pronoun for a single specified person, then it should be:

Ariela isn’t wearing the green one.  They think it’s time for them to wear their other one.

Which is just terrible.  The second sentence doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the first.  The ‘they’ think that ‘they’ should be wearing something other than Ariela’s green one.

In the example I provided, ‘every child should feel safe in his own home,’ ‘all children should feel safe in their own homes,’ and ‘every child should feel safe in their own home,’ the first option is completely unacceptable.  I prefer the second option, but the third is also acceptable.  ‘Every child’ is designating all children, male and female, so ‘their’ is OK for describing more than one unspecified person.  It’s similar to ‘the wages of sin is death.’  Grammatically, it should be ‘the wages of sin are death,’ but death is such a strong concept it overpowers wages of sin.

But if you’ve got one specified person - CarbShark - it’s just wrong to use ‘they’ as the pronoun, when ‘he’ is the obvious choice.
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Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #136 on: December 24, 2018, 07:05:15 AM »
I second brilligtove's recommendation to check out McWhorter's work. He does a podcast called "Leixcon Valley" on language, and it is fantastic. I've learned a lot from listening to it.
I binge listened to them all just this past week. He's got a way with words. Whimsical erudition as it were.

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #137 on: December 24, 2018, 11:45:33 AM »
I recommend starting with his first episode - not the most recent - because he gradually becomes more and more eclectic. I think if you start with the latest you'll be a bit lost and confused.
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Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #138 on: December 24, 2018, 02:39:00 PM »
The final example John McWhorter provides of the old-new use of ‘they’ is: ‘Tell each student that they can’.  Again, ‘each student’ means more than one student - it means all students..

It’s not an example of a single specified person taking ‘they’ as a personal pronoun, which would have been the case if it had been ‘tell that student (or the student) that they can.’

I concede I overreached when I wrote that it’s possible to put general statements into the plural to avoid the incorrect use of ‘they.’  ‘A child should feel safe in their own home’ is just as correct as ‘all children should feel safe in their own homes.’

Sometimes, it’s not possible to avoid putting a sentence into the plural to avoid this use of ‘they.’  Steven Pinker in ‘the Sense of Style’ provide 4 incorrect examples:

Is it your brother or your sister who can hold his breath for four minutes?

The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work.  As he shaves or pulls on his pantyhose, he is easing himself by small stages into the demands of the day.

She and Louis had a game-who could find the ugliest photograph of himself.

I support the liberty of every father or mother to educate his children as he desires.


In all the examples, ‘he’ and its derivatives should be ‘they’ and their derivatives, since in each case ‘he’ implies ‘two or more’ not just ‘one and only one.’  Both your brother and your sister could hold their breath for longer than 4 minutes, the average American is many Americans (both male and female), not just a single American, she and Louis could find equally ugly photos of themselves, every father or mother is all fathers and mothers, not just one father or mother.

Grammatically, it’s necessary to use ‘they.’  My favourite one should have read The average American needs the small routines of getting ready for work.  As they shave or pull on their pantyhose, they are easing themselves by small stages into the demands of the day.’

Can anyone cite a single example of ‘they’ being used correctly to refer to a single specified person, not just to avoid a gendered 3rd person pronoun?  Does anyone think that the statement ‘Many people realise that CarbShark recommends ketogenic diets.  They think they’re healthiest’ is grammatically correct?  Let alone make any sense.
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Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #139 on: December 24, 2018, 02:54:54 PM »
Does anyone think that the statement ‘Many people realise that CarbShark recommends ketogenic diets.  They think they’re healthiest’ is grammatically correct?  Let alone make any sense.

It sounds ok to me.  8)

Mate, It's 3:50AM your time Christmas Day. Relax and have a few drinks and enjoy what looks like being a nice Perth Xmas day

This is not that important a subject to be obsessing over in the middle of the night. Take a break for the day  8)




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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #140 on: December 24, 2018, 03:52:32 PM »
Does anyone think that the statement ‘Many people realise that CarbShark recommends ketogenic diets.  They think they’re healthiest’ is grammatically correct?  Let alone make any sense.

It sounds ok to me.  8)

Mate, It's 3:50AM your time Christmas Day. Relax and have a few drinks and enjoy what looks like being a nice Perth Xmas day

This is not that important a subject to be obsessing over in the middle of the night. Take a break for the day  8)

Why does it make sense?  Does the first ‘they’ refer to ‘many people’ or ‘CarbShark’?  Does the second ‘they’ refer to ‘many people,’ ‘CarbShark,’ or ‘ketogenic diets’?

It obviously should be ‘Many people realise that CarbShark recommends ketogenic diets.  He thinks they’re healthiest.’  It’s both clear and non-ambiguous.  Using ‘they’ for a single specified person, when it wouldn’t have taken much effort to realise that he’s male is just laziness.

I’m up early, because I’m always up early.  I take the dog for her 5 am walk while it’s still cool.  And it’s going to be a hot 35 degree Celsius day, so I’m planning to visit the gym early then aestivate most of the rest of the day, till she gets her evening walk.  Then I’ll have brinner.
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Offline Harry Black

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #141 on: December 24, 2018, 07:23:45 PM »
Dave is right, the meaning is perfectly clear.
It has been in every example you have tried to use to make your point.

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #142 on: December 24, 2018, 07:42:44 PM »
Does anyone think that the statement ‘Many people realise that CarbShark recommends ketogenic diets.  They think they’re healthiest’ is grammatically correct? 

The problem with that sentence is that you're using an indefinite pronoun. It has nothing to do with plural or singular. The following examples have the exact same problem:

"Many people realize that intelligent people recommend the ketogenic diet.They think they’re healthiest"

"Bachfiend finally realized that carbShark is right to recommend the ketogenic diet. He thinks they’re healthiest"
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Offline stands2reason

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #143 on: December 24, 2018, 07:55:30 PM »
OK, all of you who want to use ‘they’ as a 3rd person singular pronoun, I take it you’ll be completely happy with writing or saying:

i saw John Smith this morning.  They are the chairperson of the ABC Corporation.

You don’t know that John Smith is male.  She could be transgender and wants to be regarded as female.  Or her parents could have decided that ‘John’ was a good name for a girl.  And ‘chairman’ is hopelessly sexist.  It’s much safer and less offensive to use ‘they are the chairman of ABC Corporation.’

Right?  Just to be consistent.

And which of the following alternatives is best:

Every child should feel safe in his own home.

All children should feel safe in their own homes.

Every child should feel safe in their own home.


How do the alternatives differ in meaning?  Why is your selection best?

There are asymmetries in English pronouns. Not only is there (or was there) a missing singular gender neutral pronoun, it is also missing gendered plurals. Surely it is equally important to describe the men's/women's sports team or whatever, using a plural gendered 3rd person pronoun just to make it is clear they are all the same gender (i.e. he-they's and she-they's, and of course hims-theirs and hers-theirs for object pronouns).

As someone mentioned, gendered second-person is missing. Obviously, I am being facetious, and gendering second-person seems unnecessary. I would be more interested in having a proper explicit plural second-person (you-all or you-people, but without sounding so informal that people don't recogize it as a pronoun phrase).

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #144 on: December 24, 2018, 09:31:47 PM »
I would be more interested in having a proper explicit plural second-person (you-all or you-people, but without sounding so informal that people don't recognize it as a pronoun phrase).

'youse' works  ;)

"you stay here Bob, youse blokes follow me"

It has become coarse sounding in modern times and fallen out of favour, but it was originally a quite acceptable plural of 'you'

It is still alive and well in the UK and Australasia.  ;)

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Episode #700
« Reply #145 on: December 24, 2018, 09:52:15 PM »
It is still alive and well in the UK and Australasia.  ;)

As is y’all in much of the US. Albeit mostly Trump country.

I’d wager in the UK  youse is more prevalent among the Brexit crowd.


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Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #146 on: December 24, 2018, 10:41:20 PM »
It is still alive and well in the UK and Australasia.  ;)

As is y’all in much of the US. Albeit mostly Trump country.

I’d wager in the UK  youse is more prevalent among the Brexit crowd.

It is definitely more used by the working class in UK and Oz than the middle class and higher.





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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #147 on: December 24, 2018, 10:58:44 PM »
It is still alive and well in the UK and Australasia.  ;)

As is y’all in much of the US. Albeit mostly Trump country.

I’d wager in the UK  youse is more prevalent among the Brexit crowd.

It is definitely more used by the working class in UK and Oz than the middle class and higher.
Youse used to be common in the Bronx, too.


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Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #148 on: December 24, 2018, 11:04:41 PM »
OK, all of you who want to use ‘they’ as a 3rd person singular pronoun, I take it you’ll be completely happy with writing or saying:

i saw John Smith this morning.  They are the chairperson of the ABC Corporation.

You don’t know that John Smith is male.  She could be transgender and wants to be regarded as female.  Or her parents could have decided that ‘John’ was a good name for a girl.  And ‘chairman’ is hopelessly sexist.  It’s much safer and less offensive to use ‘they are the chairman of ABC Corporation.’

Right?  Just to be consistent.

And which of the following alternatives is best:

Every child should feel safe in his own home.

All children should feel safe in their own homes.

Every child should feel safe in their own home.


How do the alternatives differ in meaning?  Why is your selection best?

There are asymmetries in English pronouns. Not only is there (or was there) a missing singular gender neutral pronoun, it is also missing gendered plurals. Surely it is equally important to describe the men's/women's sports team or whatever, using a plural gendered 3rd person pronoun just to make it is clear they are all the same gender (i.e. he-they's and she-they's, and of course hims-theirs and hers-theirs for object pronouns).

As someone mentioned, gendered second-person is missing. Obviously, I am being facetious, and gendering second-person seems unnecessary. I would be more interested in having a proper explicit plural second-person (you-all or you-people, but without sounding so informal that people don't recogize it as a pronoun phrase).

I think it was I who noted that English lacks a gendered 2nd person pronoun.  As you note, it’s unnecessary.

Compared to other languages, English is remarkably ungendered.  German has three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter.  Das Kind, das Mädchen and das Fräulein (child, girl and young woman) are all neuter and take es and sein (it and its).  Other languages have gender specific verb endings depending on whether the speaker is male or female.

From what I can see ‘they’ is used as a 3rd person singular pronoun when the subject is implicitly ‘two or more.’  ‘Each American president has the right to choose their own cabinet’ because it implicitly refers to all presidents, not just the peanut currently in office.  I can’t find any convincing cases in which ‘they’ is used referring to a single specified person.

If you have a single specified person, then you should know the person’s gender (or at least you should know by which gender the person wants to be identified) and use he or she.  Using they is just a lazy cop out.
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Re: Episode #700
« Reply #149 on: December 25, 2018, 12:12:53 AM »

I think it was I who noted that English lacks a gendered 2nd person pronoun.

Dude?


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