Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 08:09:07 -0500 From: Robert Ness Subject: Re: one as a pronoun? I mislike it too. But "one" and "they" as indefinites are old enough, at least late ME: "The carpenter out of his slumber sterte,/And herde oon crien "water!' as he were wood" (the Miller's Tale, I (A) 3116-7). Old English regularly used "man" as an indefinite, as in "man stearf" (Someone died). On Sun, 9 Nov 1997, Alan Baragona wrote: > (Dale F. Coye) wrote: > > > > After reading 72 freshmen papers I find myself facing: "One finds many points > > in common..." in nearly every one. I hate this construction. I especially > > hate it when it's reflexive: "when one asks oneself what one's position > > is..." Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage tells us it is 'usually > > the mark of a formal style,' but I find myself wanting to tell my students > > not to use it ever, because it sounds stiff and unnatural. In other words, my > > Sprachgefuehl tells me people don't use it in informal speech, and formal > > speech that deviates too much from informal speech doesn't set well. My > > question is- what's the current feeling on this construction, in writing and > > in speech? I know some people use it in conversational styles, but is it > > only PhDs? It sounds foreign to me. German, 'man,' French 'on,' but not > > English. > > > > Dale Coye > > The College of New Jersey > > Like you, I don't like it and don't use it. It would be one good way > for students to avoid either sexist pronoun usage or the clumsy "he or > she" except that they always end up shifting from indeterminate > pseudo-pronoun "one" to the masculine anyway ("When one reads J.D. > Salinger, he is overcome by sadness."), and it makes them sound as if > they're trying to be British. > > Alan B. >