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Non-binary "singular they" endorsed by Merriam-Webster

"Singular 'they': Though singular 'they' is old, 'they' as a nonbinary proonoun is new — and useful", Merriam-Webster Words We're Watching: Much has been written on they, and we aren’t going to attempt to cover it here. We will note that they has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s; that the development of […]

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Tolerance for singular they

Today's SMBC:

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Singular They of the day

Today's Questionable Content: I think we've reached the point where no one who reads this web comic regularly would even notice. For more on those who would, see "Linguistic Reaction at the New Yorker", 3/8/2016.  

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Enlightened singular they

Today's Questionable Content:

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Xtreme singular they

In the Metro, a free newspaper that I often pick up in Edinburgh, there is an entertainment gossip page called Guilty Pleasures, which of course I never look at. Perhaps the most poisonous of the regular features is a couple of square inches, buried amongst the candid paparazzi shots of heiresses' breasts and film stars' […]

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Canadian Department of Justice: use "singular they"

A page at www.justice.gc.ca recommends that people drafting legislation should "consider using the third-person pronouns 'they', 'their', 'them', 'themselves' or 'theirs' to refer to a singular indefinite noun, to avoid the unnatural language that results from repeating the noun". The page closes with an excellent set of references and quotations — the sources include the […]

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They triumphs?

Farhad Manjoo, "Call Me 'They'", NYT 7/10/2019: The singular “they” is inclusive and flexible, and it breaks the stifling prison of gender expectations. Let’s all use it. I am your stereotypical, cisgender, middle-aged suburban dad. I dabble in woodworking, I take out the garbage, and I covet my neighbor’s Porsche. Though I do think men […]

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On when listening is better than talking: A call for contemplation and empathy

The following is a reply from Emily M. Bender, Natasha Warner and myself to Geoff Pullum’s recent posts (A letter saying they won, 12/4/2017; Courtesy and personal pronoun choice, 12/6/2017). Respected senior linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum recently used the widely-read platform of Language Log to remark on the fact that his grammatical tolerance of singular […]

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Linguistic reaction at The New Yorker

Mary Norris, "Comma Queen: The Singular 'Their'", The New Yorker 3/4/2016: Last year, at the convention of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), in Pittsburgh, everyone was talking about “the singular ‘their.’ ” It is the people’s choice for the gender-neutral third-person-singular pronoun that the English language sadly lacks.   Many ACES stalwarts—copy editors, journalists, […]

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The Washington Post concedes on singular they

Bill Walsh, the keeper of the Washington Post's style manual, buries the lede in "The Post drops the ‘mike’ — and the hyphen in ‘e-mail’", 12/4/2015. After 16 paragraphs about mic, email, and Walmart, he finally gets to the most important part, namely the "cautious" adoption of singular they, both for "gender-nonconforming" people and for "those […]

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The future of singular they

I've recently encountered several people in their teens or early twenties who ask, as individuals, to be referred to as  they/them/their/themself. Looking around to see how common this might be, I found an undated (?) survey reporting the following results: All in all, over eight hundred people responded, the majority from the US and other […]

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Regardless whether Prudes will sneer

On both sides of the War of the Iptivists, many people seem to believe that opinions about linguistic usage reflect attitudes towards innovation.  The story goes like this: A new word, a new form, or a new construction is invented; at first, most people reject the innovation and deprecate the innovators; but the innovation spreads all the […]

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We all need someone who relies on

Chris Moody, "New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez: Comments like Romney’s set ‘us back as a party’", Yahoo News 11/15/2012: Martinez criticized Romney's comments when they were reported in September, and on Wednesday reiterated that she found them "ridiculous." "It's a ridiculous statement to make. You want to earn the vote of every single person you […]

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