But this was no banner-waving activist, and the crowd in this instance was made up of members of the 127-year-old American Dialect Society. “We need to accept ‘they’, and we need to do it now,” came the linguist’s cry, and at that moment an otherwise apolitical event took on an unexpected edge.APOLITICAL? Academics are NEVER apolitical. Here's what BBC considers APOLITICAL:
The Society was meeting in Washington DC to decide on its Word of the Year for 2015. Of all the possible candidates – which included ‘ghost’, ‘ammosexual’ and ‘Thanks, Obama’ – its final choice was an apparently straightforward pronoun. On the face of it, ‘they’ is hardly trailblazing. But what is controversial is the acceptance of a new way of using it. The Society’s website explains that “’They’ was recognised by the society for its emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of ‘he’ and ‘she’.”Thanks, Obama. Apolitical. Nuff said. The real problem, of course, is that BBC and academics don't see this as a contradiction. In their alien mind-like substances, total abject adherence to this week's Correct Line as defined by the party traditionally representing the Left (Labour, Democrat) is apolitical. In linguistic terms, unmarked. Failing to sing the current song of Labour or Democrat is political and heretical and Recognizing they as a singular common-gender pronoun would NOT have been political 50 years ago. The usage was already advancing NATURALLY to replace clumsy formations like he or she. By recognizing they right now, and making specific reference to bizarre science-denier delusions like "non-binary", the decision becomes intensely political. One quoted expert gets the principle right while missing basic facts about the history of English:
Sally McConnell-Ginet, Professor Emeritus in linguistics at Cornell University [says] “We’re much less likely to accept a new form like that than to just allow ‘they’ to expand its scope a bit so that you can freely use it to talk about specific individuals – and that is happening more and more.” She points to one example that indicates we could embrace ‘they’ as a singular pronoun. “There is a parallel in the history of English. We used to have ‘you’ contrasting with ‘thee’ and ‘thou’, and now we happily use ‘you’. We say ‘you go to the store’, not ‘you goes to the store’ – even if addressing a single individual, we still use the plural verb form,” she says. “People don’t seem to be upset about that – why can’t we do the same with ‘they’? Just let it expand to do this job.”Correct about natural evolution, incorrect about you and thou. In fact ye was nominative plural and you was accusative plural, contrasting with thou (nom sing) and thee (acc sing). In table form,
Labels: Language update
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.