Epicene avoidance?

Ronald Butters ronbutters at AOL.COM
Tue Nov 9 18:43:45 UTC 2010

Gladly would he learn, and gladly teach, as Chaucer said.

On Nov 9, 2010, at 10:23 AM, Paul Frank wrote:

> On Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 3:54 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>> At 12:52 PM +0100 11/9/10, Paul Frank wrote:
>>> The sentence "Applicants must have obtained his or her doctorate by
>>> the date of taking up the post" is just silly. You're right that it's
>>> bad editing or bad writing. There's nothing wrong with "they" here
>>> even from a prescriptivist point of view. By the way, what's the
>>> advantage of "epicene they" over "gender-neutral they"? "Epicene they"
>>> gets 843 googlits; "gender-neutral they" 52,700. I'd heard of epicene
>>> nouns in Spanish and other European languages. But "epicene they" is
>>> new to me. It'll grow on me.
>>> Paul
>> It's been in use in our circles for a while; cf. listmates Dennis
>> Baron ("The Epicene Pronouns: A Chronology of the Word That Failed"
>> at
>> http://www.english.illinois.edu/-people-/faculty/debaron/essays/epicene.htm,
>> and various mentions in his books, esp. _Grammar and Gender_ (Yale U.
>> Press, 1986), and in posts on Web of Language site) and Michael
>> Newman (_Epicene Pronouns: The Linguistics of a Prescriptive
>> Problem_. New York: Garland, 1997. In Garland Outstanding
>> Dissertations in Linguistics series.)
> And it's grown on me already. Thank you. Every time I post something
> to this list I'm reminded of a Chinese saying: "to cast a brick to get
> jade in return" (引玉). I cast bricks (uninformed opinions) at you and
> you give me jade in (wisdom
> and experience) in return.
> Paul
> Paul Frank
> Translator
> Chinese, German, French, Italian > English
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