24 February 2008

Sunday Judgment V

I don't have much ire left after two straight grumpy posts, so I thought in this installment we could just all meditate on an increasingly divisive issue: "'They' as a third-person singular gender-free pronoun." It sounds as if Randall Munroe is "all for it," as is my friend Scott, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology who studies developmental linguistics. I don't think it will ever sound right to my ear though, so I guess I'm doomed to further hours of toil figuring out ways to avoid "he or she" without being sexist or unnecessarily pluralizing the whole sentence. If you're able to embrace the singular they, though, more power to you.

Speaking of xkcd and language, I highly recommend LimerickDB.com, which Munroe created and which has some hilarious stuff in the Top 150. (I should probably warn you that some of the content there is sexual--though also textual.)

I also recommend this delightful little riff on semicolons from the New York Times. I missed it originally; thank goodness my friend Liz sent it along. I especially like the little celebrity interviews. It is hilarious, though, that they mispunctuated the title of Lynn Truss's book (see the correction). I guess they've never heard the joke.

(N.B.: The they in each of the two proceeding sentences is meant to refer to the author and various editors of the piece collectively and is not an attempt at singular they usage in response to the gender-ambiguity of the author's name. Just to be clear.)

1 comment:

Jason said...

Ha, I loved the first clause of this post.