Archive for the ‘sexuality’ Category

Thoughts on “Singular They”

Monday, September 12th, 2011

English lacks pronouns for the third person singular common gender. The plural forms are commonly used as singular for want of anything better, but this seems to be frowned on by The Authorities. And although there have been various suggestions for sets of common-gender pronouns, none of them have really caught on — despite there being entire science-fiction anthologies without a “he” or “she” in sight.

I personally think we should stop acting as though there is anything wrong with using “they” in the singular. After all, outside certain dialects, English no longer makes any distinction between singular and plural in the second person, and the distinction is often blurred in the first person (traditionally, the reigning monarch has always referred to themself as “We”; and this is also often used as a literary device to indicate that the author is not alone in expressing a particular opinion. There are also instances when multiple authors have referred to themselves as “I”.)

So, for the sake of consistency and to avoid introducing new words into the language, I propose that the “overloading” of common-gender third person plural pronouns as singular pronouns be made official.

  • Nominative: They
  • Accusative: Them
  • Genitive: Their
  • Reflexive: Themself (only obvious singular form)

We already use such constructions informally all the time. So why not just make them formal?

Andrew McClintock: an apology

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

In an earlier post, I called Andrew McClintock — who believed he should not have to obey the Law of the Land because his imaginary friend says so — a homophobic dickhead.

It has been pointed out to me that this choice of wording might tend to diminish McClintock’s standing in the eyes of someone who considers being a dickhead to be somehow less acceptable than being homophobic. (I personally would have expected that believing such things would cause most people’s heads to undergo what mobile phone manufacturers’ lawyers refer to euphemistically as spontaneous rapid disassembly.)

I also realise that there is a world of difference between being a dickhead and merely acting like a dickhead. After all, actors in soap operas who portray characters who perform distasteful acts regularly receive hate mail and death threats from members of the public who conflate television drama with reality, and the imaginary character Deirdre Rachid received more letters of support from a concerned public than any real-life political prisoner. I should not stoop to the level of these people.

Anyway, to return to the subject at hand. Andrew McClintock is not a homophobic dickhead. He is merely a homophobe who sometimes behaves like a dickhead. OK now?

Andrew McClintock is a homophobic dickhead

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

See this story on the BBC website:
Gay adoption tribunal appeal due
The upshot of it is that a man is complaining because he has to do what the Law of the Land requires, as opposed to what his queer-bashing imaginary friend requires. Well, boo bloody hoo.

I really, really hope this bigoted prick gets shot down in flames. If someone’s religion said that they had to sacrifice thirteen virgins every full moon, we wouldn’t have to umm and aah about allowing them to do that out of some misguided “respect for their religion”. Why on Earth do these christians think that just because their big book of fairy tales tells them that something is wrong with it, they have the right to interfere with a perfectly natural practice?