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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 the
> I could not, for instance, say "I was talking to BP the other day,
> they [=BP] told me...". So the default rule for BrE is that the sex
> the human referent must be specified if known, which is still not an > ideal state of affairs.
> --And.
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 attractive..... Not terrible, but I would probably use _she_ And I don't think I can do it with a named antecedent. -Estel ______________________________________________________________________ Post your free ad now!