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

Salikoko S. Mufwene s-mufwene at UCHICAGO.EDU
Sat Jan 9 11:50:49 UTC 2016

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 

/Or will "singular /they/" continue to be referentially singular but 
syntactically plural?


On 1/9/2016 5:29 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> Here's my writeup of the WOTY voting for Vocabulary.com:
> http://www.vocabulary.com/articles/wordroutes/they-won-gender-neutral-pronoun-is-2015-word-of-the-year/
> The selection is also receiving plenty of media coverage...
> http://time.com/4173992/word-of-the-year-2015-they/
> http://www.businessinsider.com/the-word-they-named-2015-word-of-the-year-2016-1
> https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/01/08/donald-trump-may-win-this-years-word-of-the-year/
> http://www.inc.com/chris-matyszczyk/the-new-word-of-the-year-is-going-to-upset-some-people.html
> 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:
>> http://www.americandialect.org/2015-word-of-the-year-is-singular-they
>> Shortcut to PDF: http://bit.ly/ADSWOTY15
>> --bgz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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

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