Something interesting I learned in my speech class textbook, Reflect and Relate (Second Edition) about they/them/their in the English language, page 187:
A language’s regulative rules also change. When you learned to speak
and write English, for example, you probably were taught that they is inappropriate as a singular pronoun. But before the 1850s, people commonly used they as the singular pronoun for individuals whose gender was unknown—for example, “the owner went out to the stables, where they fed the horses” (Spender, 1990).
In 1850, male grammarians petitioned the British Parliament to pass a law declaring that all gender-indeterminate references be labeled he instead of they (Spender, 1990). Since that time, teachers of English worldwide have taught their students that they used as a singular pronoun is “not proper.”
I always thought that “they” was considered grammatically improper as a singular pronoun because of the possibility of confusion with the plural “they” (an additional factor also explored in this paper). I wanted to see if their were other sources on the above and there are! I was interested to learn about this in particular because, time and time again, I’ve heard people rudely remark on they/them/their being “improper” after someone would mention this as the pronoun set they’d like people to use in reference to them - both online and off. They/them/their is also the pronoun set I have gelled with best in reference to myself. If anyone has more info on this, I’d love to know about it!
All of this.
Also, the notion that there’s ambiguity between singular and plural they is utterly exploded by the fact that we routinely use “you” as both singular and plural without any difficulty.
And “you”, like “they”, originated as a plural pronoun.
YES THIS and also also, since when is ambiguity in language even a problem? Every language is hugely ambiguous; to not be, they’d have to be way more unwieldy and hard to use. We use context to disambiguate, all the time, every word we ever read or hear.
And yet, nobody’s complaining about the word “bank”.
It’s not just a BS excuse, it’s a BS excuse that translates as “Excuse me, this might hypothetically occasionally cause me the same amount of trouble the rest of the language does, and I think that is MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than your personhood”.
- saucethatisawesome likes this
- rahleighbecket reblogged this from cynassa
- noya-sempai reblogged this from gqid
- ziennajames likes this
- thedronesneedyou reblogged this from anonymous-bosch
- prodigiousapparition likes this
- thatweirdo-intheduckieshirt likes this
- now-at-glory-to-cobrastan likes this
- westformiles likes this
- interstellarmage reblogged this from qwerty-bard
- phobetor reblogged this from anomolisticbeauty
- hermosa-sirena likes this
- anomolisticbeauty reblogged this from bohemianarthouse
- pixelspirit likes this
- nieczynne reblogged this from bohemianarthouse
- glass-onion- reblogged this from bohemianarthouse
- commondense likes this
- bohemianarthouse reblogged this from downlo
- itsahullabaloo reblogged this from aesho
- emptyparallels likes this
- theknightherself reblogged this from davelisterspudge
- anamikadevi reblogged this from broadlybrazen
- broadlybrazen reblogged this from blue-author
- infixe likes this
- daggerpen likes this
- xchailiax reblogged this from glompcat
- xchailiax likes this
- youngjustus likes this
- glompcat reblogged this from aesho
- soilrockslove likes this
- warehouseagentinbelgium reblogged this from kissingkelena
- pondorasbox likes this
- kissingkelena reblogged this from aesho
- glompcat likes this
- aesho reblogged this from acatnamedhercules
- fatmf likes this
- mxnotmrdarcy reblogged this from impromptuonedykedanceparty
- pepperlivesbehindthesea reblogged this from tehcrzy1
- tehcrzy1 reblogged this from tehcrzy1
- khaleersula reblogged this from witnessarias
- stardust-ink reblogged this from zipslasher
- stardust-ink likes this
- callmemauihasmoved likes this
- witnessarias reblogged this from zipslasher
- stirianix reblogged this from zipslasher and added:
- zipslasher reblogged this from casual-isms
- ethanembryo likes this