Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What They Said

I'm no language purist. I follow the rules and at the same time take delight in breaking them now and again because languages are fluent organisms, not stagnant sets of rules. Still, even I have to admit I was surprised and rather taken aback when poet extraordinaire Celia White pointed out that according the Merriam-Webster, it is now okay to use "they" as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun. A rousing discussion ensued on Facebook about the pros and cons of this ruling.

If you are thinking, what does that mean, then let me tell you that if you have been diligently using "he or she," "he/she" or my personal (non)favorite "s/he," you can now use M-W to back you up when you just go for "they". If you don't know (or would rather not say) the gender of the person doing whatever, you can use they.

Lots of folks already did this and probably think that M-W is late and lame for finally just accepting it.

What can we expect from a world where young men can proudly wear their pants below their derrieres, belting them into this auspicious place? Pants dip further down, language slides into chaos, but I'm sure we'll all survive just the same.

1 comment:

52 Faces said...

Yeah, I think OED decided this a few years ago, making me very excited - but since then nobody's been utilizing it! Argh