"Pre-owned,""near miss," "s/he"

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Sep 28 13:05:52 UTC 2001

'They' has been said they whole dang lives by some us academics. We
was beat up purty bad for doin' it while we was in school, but after
we got out (and got tenured), hit was OK.


>The possible conflict in meanings of "pre-owned"--that is, "someone did
>something before s/he owned it" vs. "used"--is that analogous to the
>formerly common "near miss"?
>"Near miss" looks like it ought to mean that someone almost missed
>something but hit it after all, while it was used to mean that someone
>almost hit something but missed it after all.
>By the way, is there any consensus these days on the non-gender-specific
>pronoun to agree with "someone"?  I see "s/he" in emails, but outside
>academics "they" seems to be the choice by default.
>Thom Harrison
>Macon State College

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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