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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 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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Annals of singular "they"

"Pilot misses destination by 29 miles after dozing off", Sky News 11/27/2018: A pilot in Australia is being investigated after they fell asleep in the cockpit and missed their destination by 29 miles. The pilot, who was the only person on board at the time, overshot the remote Tasmanian island where they were due to […]

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Terror of singular 'they'

Joining a crowd of other recent fraudsters, Paul Roberts and Deborah Briton returned from their Spanish vacation and subsequently turned in a completely fake claim against the Thomas Cook package-vacation company, alleging that their time in Spain had been ruined by stomach complaints for which the hotel and the company should be held liable. They […]

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Schooled on singular "they"

[This is a guest post by Bean] My eight-year-old daughter in conversation with me last night: Scene: I am giving her a sock, which she had brought home, only to find she already had both of her socks. So it logically must belong to some other girl (it's obviously a girl's sock). Me: So, bring […]

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Annals of singular "they"

Shane Hickey, "The innovators: the app promising the perfect-fitting bra", The Guardian 1/10/2015: The sizing technology works via an iPhone app. To use it, a woman must take two pictures of themselves while wearing a tight fitted top in front of a mirror. The phone is held at the bellybutton and a picture is taken […]

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ADS Word of the Year is singular "they"

At the American Dialect Society annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (held in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America), the 2015 Word of the Year selection has been made. The winner is they used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun. They was recognized by the society particularly for its emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often […]

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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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Annals of singular 'they': another case with known sex

Karen Thomson, a Sanskritist and antiquarian bookseller living in Oxford, wrote to me to point out the following very significant example of singular they in a Financial Times interview with TV writer and director Jill Soloway: People will recognise that just because somebody is masculine, it doesn't mean they have a penis. Just because somebody's […]

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