Date: Sat, 5 Nov 1994 12:23:00 EST

From: "Dennis.Preston" 22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: "them" singulars

Since I was the first to respond to the silly notion that they/them singulars

was somehow learned as s response to current PC trends, I suppose I should

answer again, although soem have already been kind enough to point out that

this usage is common in the speech of many (most?) Americans, and I certainly

learned and used it (with perfect clarity I might add) long before any current

political issues were involved (although historical facts relating to this

issue are much older than many assume, as Dennis (the other one) shows in his

1986 Grammar adn Gender (Yale Univ. Press).

As for the other of Lancaster's claims, particularly that we communicate

poorly as a result of breakdown in grammar, I can only utter (oooops! careful

with that only placement) the usual linguist's sigh. I suppose the loss of the

thou/thee/thine singulars did cause a little misunderstanding for a while (a

real grammatical breakdown) and I also assume that those who oppose such

breakdowns are 100% behind such repairs as you guys, you all, youse, and yuns.

(Why do I suspect that they are not? Is it for the same reason that

Michiganders yuk it up when hillbillies like me conflate pin and pen but don't

even get the joke when I laugh at their conflation of horse and hoarse -- what

conflation? They're pronounced the same, right? Yuk-yuk)

Dennis [dIn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]s] Preston