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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 regional lines.) ========================================================================= 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