Singular "they" on Facebook

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon Aug 12 14:10:52 UTC 2013

On 8/11/13 12:00 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> Date:    Sat, 10 Aug 2013 10:24:10 -0400
> From:    "Joel S. Berson"<Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject: Re: Singular "they" on Facebook
> This is singular "their".  Do you find Facebook also using the
> nominative or accusative?  As in "Jane Doe lives in Springfield,
> Mass. They is a professor of English at the University of
> Massachusetts."  Or "Jane Dow is a recipient of the Nobel Prize in
> Literature, which was awarded them in 1993."
> I agree these are not sentences likely to be constructed by Facebook
> software, but perhaps there are examples.
> Joel
I've noticed a wonkiness in the possessive. Evidently the software can't
tell when a form is a plural. For example, when I shared a photo from
Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, the boilerplate made it "Amy shared
Commonwealth Vintage Dancers's link", with "Commonwealth Vintage
Dancers" being a blue hyperlink to that group's FB page. So think about
what might happen to the plural possessive form if such things *really*
influence people's usage (through seeing them and not necessarily being
conscious of them). (I am not ringing an alarm bell, really.)

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society -

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