Re: Epicene pronoun in english?:USA
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 10, 2004, 6:09|
> From: "John L. Leland" <Lelandconlang@...>
> I have seen it said that the change from United States are to
> United States is took place around the Civil War, and signaled
> the change in concepts from the U.S. as a loose federation of
> states to the U.S. as an essentially unitary government. I
> believe one of the pundits of the Civil War TV series said this,
> but I do not know the underlying research.
You're thinking of Shelby Foote, and he didn't quite say that.
He said (to paraphrase): Before the Civil War, people said "the
United States are", and afterwards "the United States is": it
made us an "is". Given that Foote is a "Southron" as historians
of the Civil War go, it's unlikely he would have suggested that
Americans then or now view themselves as having a unitary government.
(This might be true in certain of the more deracinated Northern
conurbations, but certainly in the South and to a lesser extent in
the West identity is still largely defined along state and then
Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637