[Ads-l] Word of the Year 2015: singular "they"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 9 12:30:38 UTC 2016


> On Jan 9, 2016, at 6:50 AM, Salikoko S. Mufwene <s-mufwene at uchicago.edu> wrote:
> 
> Are we likely to see/hear "singular /they/" agree with the verb in the same way as /he/ and /she/? Is the following construction likely to be considered acceptable:
> 
> /I wonder whether there is a person here that claimed _they knowS_ the answer.
> 
> /Or will "singular /they/" continue to be referentially singular but syntactically plural?
> 
> Sali.

I expect it'll work like singular "you":  "You are..." but "You shaved yourself/yourselves" depending on the number of the referent.  (Similarly for Fr. "vous" taking 2d plural verb agreement.)  We just need autocorrect to respect "themself" as the appropriate reflexive instead of replacing it with "themselves" as it just tried to do.

LH
> 
> On 1/9/2016 5:29 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> Here's my writeup of the WOTY voting for Vocabulary.com:
>> 
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.vocabulary.com_articles_wordroutes_they-2Dwon-2Dgender-2Dneutral-2Dpronoun-2Dis-2D2015-2Dword-2Dof-2Dthe-2Dyear_&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=AmciFmYeGlQHEzuXWDS6q08lmzpUDAaT3HFBML7ujaE&e= 
>> The selection is also receiving plenty of media coverage...
>> 
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__time.com_4173992_word-2Dof-2Dthe-2Dyear-2D2015-2Dthey_&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=c7ZYmQnvu_aVf_LFToq4PbScs55DkQTCsVTNWNSuFS0&e= https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.businessinsider.com_the-2Dword-2Dthey-2Dnamed-2D2015-2Dword-2Dof-2Dthe-2Dyear-2D2016-2D1&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=JxVakia7J_4TR4u-SgNvVT1ZFHn1eWllJ8Rw2qNHWXA&e= https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__www.washingtonpost.com_news_wonk_wp_2016_01_08_donald-2Dtrump-2Dmay-2Dwin-2Dthis-2Dyears-2Dword-2Dof-2Dthe-2Dyear_&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=6vnXzEexUVmhO0e4Y5y8pJjCQv9za-vlV2I4qsY7P78&e= https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.inc.com_chris-2Dmatyszczyk_the-2Dnew-2Dword-2Dof-2Dthe-2Dyear-2Dis-2Dgoing-2Dto-2Dupset-2Dsome-2Dpeople.html&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=-aBNHzIAuHG8jCVl2IChP_Xt4lohoYB0hJScTg_7QBo&e= 
>> 
>> On Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 8:41 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> The Word of the Year for 2015 is "they" used as a gender-neutral
>>> singular pronoun. "They" was recognized by the society for its
>>> emerging use as a pronoun to refer to a known person, often as a
>>> conscious choice by someone rejecting the traditional gender binary of
>>> "he" and "she."
>>> 
>>> Read the press release:
>>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org_2015-2Dword-2Dof-2Dthe-2Dyear-2Dis-2Dsingular-2Dthey&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=Iq7BWgCKokpBrOqfrVt3fWAwMHOemEmeppwEeq1qE50&e= Shortcut to PDF: https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__bit.ly_ADSWOTY15&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=www3ypRfhqc2GHfjiBJHg7Ar_wZ79Gg9ph-RTlhi0fQ&e= 
>>> --bgz
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=PgFmEYnu2SZ_HP2DrITyOeSA0dkCXBBjvv-1lfxhqq0&e= 
> 
> -- 
> **********************************************************
> Salikoko S. Mufwene                    s-mufwene at uchicago.edu
> The Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics and the College
> Professor, Committee on Evolutionary Biology
> Professor, Committee on the Conceptual & Historical Studies of Science
> University of Chicago                  773-702-8531; FAX 773-834-0924
> Department of Linguistics
> 1115 East 58th Street
> Chicago, IL 60637, USA
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__mufwene.uchicago.edu_&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=-UfoDB8NWC5jRUSK1MVdCcQ0x0Zog-DlCt_oC8T8a-w&e= **********************************************************
> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwICaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NaEDMVicpdgIcLi4-2NUJtWN4NpLnfNUwcc4-kLV2ao&s=PgFmEYnu2SZ_HP2DrITyOeSA0dkCXBBjvv-1lfxhqq0&e= 

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list