Thursday, October 19, 2006

Have you all noticed somone oddly using pronouns. They represent the future.

I got into a big tiffle with my feminist economics professor my first year of graduate school. Following standard grammar, after much agonizing, I used he as the third person singluar genderless pronoun. I considered he-or-she, s/he, it but found them all awkward.

I have since capitualted and follow the convention accepted in academic economics, alternate between he or she, but if there is a stereotype, use the gender that defies the stereotype.

I stubbornly refuse to adopt what is becoming increasingly common, using "They" for the singular genderless. I heard it on NPR this morning and see it quite regularly in magazines.

English has always had an awkward shortage of pronouns.

More glaringly, is the missing 2nd person plural. Historically 2nd person singular was thou and thee, and 2nd person plural was you and you.

Thou and thee have long degenerated and we were left with confusion. However, I wouldn't be surprised if before long, we get you and you for 2nd person singular, and 'you all' and 'you all' for 2nd person plural.

Having lived in Washington for only a few months, I catch myself using "you all." It certainly fills a much needed gap, and more acceptable (to me anyway) than "yous" and "y'all." It surprised me how ubiquitous it is here, not just by southerners.

On the whole, I am fine with these developments, though I may resist them myself. English language like english law (by contrast to french language and french law) is not codified, but organic.

For my many friends who get offended when nuclear is pronounced "nucular," I refer them to Monty Python's Holy Grail where they prounounce knight, well like "k-n-i-g-h-t," when for the past few hundred years, we have taken to pronouncing it "nite."

Language is fluid and adaptive. And that's cool.
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