Date: Sat, 5 Nov 1994 10:15:42 -0800 From: Dan Alford Subject: Re: "them" singulars "They/them/their" as singular goes back to Chaucer. It doesn't eradicate. I agree with Birrell Walsh -- the best of a bad set of choices, and look at all the well-attested history behind it. Now, excuse me, why was it we didn't want to use these forms anyway I remember reading once that Meillet or one of those dead French linguists had uncovered a substratum of animacy below/before the sex-gender distinctions. English handles animacy really badly, which is another reason I don't find the plural/singular conflation a problem, and why I for one wouldn't mind if ikind of went away. He/she merely draws attention to genitalia and secondary sex characteristics in a way that makes people from other languages and cultures wonder why they have to pay so much attention to sex in order to just speak English properly. He/she vs it tends to invoke a "living/dead" contrast. And then, to top it all off, we have a great big gaping hole in that pronoun set -- any living creature whose genitalia we're not interested in or can't immediately tell (neighbor's new baby or dog, a tree, a whale, a bug, a star we label 'IT', as if the creature is dead! I contend our pronoun systems is subtly complicit in it-ting Mother Earth to death because of this basic lack of formal respect. Note this is different from Romance languages where masc/fem/neut are applied to all objects and beings equally, without absolute dependence on sexual characteristics. So gimme them they's and their's! -- Moonhawk (%->) <"The fool on the hill sees the sun going down and> <-- John Lennon>