Re: Epicene pronoun in english?
|From:||Estel Telcontar <estel_telcontar@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, March 10, 2004, 19:35|
And Rosta ha tera a:
[snip some stuff]
> That said, single-referent _they/them_ is normally used only when the
> sex of the referent is unknown or deliberately concealed by thespeaker.
> I could not, for instance, say "I was talking to BP the other day,and
> they [=BP] told me...". So the default rule for BrE is that the sexof
> the human referent must be specified if known, which is still not an
> ideal state of affairs.
I (Canadian English) can use _they/them_ in contexts where I know the
gender of the person referred to when I'm concealing the identity of
the referent, even when the sex is known from context. I think this
comes of a habit of usually concealing sex when concealing the identity
of the referent, which carries over into contexts where the sex is not
concealed. Hmm, let me see if I can think of an example.... usually
happens when discussing romantic interests... No, can't make one up now
that I'm trying. But I've noticed it before, that I'm talking as if
I'm concealing gender, when I only need to conceal identity.
Okay, thought of an example that would work. Suppose I'm saying about
a female friend,
"One of my friends once told me that one of the things they find really
attractive about guys is nice forearms... and that they like guys who
play guitar because it shows off their forearms really nicely."
I could easily say that, even though I know my friend is female and am
not trying to hide it, and a hearer would probably guess so from
context. I'm just trying to hide her identity.
But it still doesn't work too well with names or specified genders.
?A girl I know once told me that one of the things they find really
Not terrible, but I would probably use _she_
And I don't think I can do it with a named antecedent.
Post your free ad now! http://personals.yahoo.ca