government they

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 16 16:18:31 UTC 2011

There is a barely noticeable quibble Dan Drezner posted this morning. He
is responding to Herman Cain's "foreign policy" (which he says is
nonexistent, but that's another matter entirely).

>>     The primary duty of the President of the United States is to
>>     protect our people. In fact, it is the principal duty of a
>>     limited federal government. They must ensure that our military
>>     and all of our security agencies are strong and capable.
> I'm with you so far, Mr. Cain -- my only objection is your odd pronoun
> choice of "they."

The first paragraph is Cain's, the second Drezner's. Personally, I don't
see anything particularly odd about the choice of "they", irrespectively
of whether it refers to "the President and a limited federal government"
or just the "government". The latter might sound more British than SAE,
but I'd be perfectly happy to use it. But, I suspect, Drezner totally
missed the possibility of the former--which would make /his/ comment
"odd". YMMV


The American Dialect Society -

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