Prescriptive question

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Fri Jun 11 15:54:46 UTC 2004

Gee, thanks for the free research, Arnold!  I was surprised not to find a
reference to this in the Chicago manual, and I'm even more surprised to
hear it's absent from EIGHT other manuals.  The question, of course, is
whether the manuals omit it because they've decided there's nothing wrong
with the "lurking we" or because they think it's such an obvious no-no that
it isn't even worth mentioning.

Peter Mc.

--On Thursday, June 10, 2004 9:56 PM -0700 "Arnold M. Zwicky"
<zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:

> On Jun 10, 2004, at 2:31 PM, Peter A. McGraw wrote:
>> I know better than to ask the denizens of this list to BE
>> prescriptive, but
>> in this case I'm not sure whether a prescriptive "rule" exists anymore,
>> even for prescriptivists.  I've tried the Chicago Manual of Style on
>> this
>> one, but no luck.  I don't have any other style manuals handy.
>> The case is embodied in sentences like:
>> "The Burgville Philharmonic invites you to subscribe to our upcoming
>> concert season."
>> Have even the prescriptivists dropped an earlier insistence on
>> changing "our" to "its," or is this prescription alive and well for
>> formal writing?
> i've checked out eight handbooks -- four in the fowler tradition, four
> manuals for college students -- and don't see this specific case
> discussed or exemplified, though it would of course come under the
> general rubric of pronouns having to agree with their antecedents in
> person, number, and gender.  everybody's much exercised about pronouns
> with indefinites as antecedents, and many of the books care a lot about
> switches between various generic pronouns ("one", "you", "they"), but
> no one seems to mention the lurking "we".
> somewhere i have some nice cites of this, along the lines of "Lesbians
> are finally making ourselves visible" -- though i myself find the
> non-reflexive examples much easier to get than the reflexive ones.
> arnold (zwicky at

Peter A. McGraw       Linfield College        McMinnville, Oregon
******************* pmcgraw at ************************

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