"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Literature in the News: “They,” The Word of the Year

Who comes up with these awards?  There really is a word of the year, awarded by the American Dialect Society (ADS).  
And the winner for 2016 is…

they: gender-neutral singular pronoun for a known person, particularly as a nonbinary identifier.

The award ceremony (actually a vote was held) was held at the Marriott Marquis, Washington D.C. on January 8th

In its 26th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted for they used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun as the Word of the Year for 2015. 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 a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.

Presiding at the Jan. 8 voting session were ADS Executive Secretary Allan Metcalf of MacMurray College and Ben Zimmer, chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. Zimmer is also executive editor of Vocabulary.com and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

The use of singular they builds on centuries of usage, appearing in the work of writers such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. In 2015, singular they was embraced by the Washington Post style guide. Bill Walsh, copy editor for the Post, described it as “the only sensible solution to English’s lack of a gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.”

There you go.  The impetus for the selection is tied to this mad, insane rush to destroy gender from our language and our lives.  So if you’re confused, let me give you an example.  Normally “they” is a plural noun for multiple subjects. 

Five horses crossed the road.  They neighed.

But to use it as a singular pronoun for a known person is distort common usage.  This is how we would normally use a singular pronoun:

John wants a sex change.  He has discussed it with his doctor and wife.

Here’s how the new usage would work:

John wants a sex change.  They has discussed it with his doctor and wife.

Makes sense?  Of course not.

John Hovatt II had a very passionate disapproval in the American Thinker with his article, “'They' is Destroying the English Language.”  

This new usage is politically-correct jargon that is being forced on the public. Singular they now refers to those sexually-confused individuals who do not wish to be called he or she. It has been determined that “they” can now refer to a “known person as a non-binary identifier.” Predictably newspapers like the Washington Post have already included this usage in their style books. In so doing, they (plural) have declared grammatical war upon the language.

It is war, but a dirty war. One cannot help but be struck by the utter mediocrity and cowardice of the august assembly of linguistic warriors. Had these linguists had a bit of courage they might have adopted any of the numerous “gender-neutral” ridiculous-sounding pronouns such as “jee,” “ney” and “thon” that have already been created by activists to promote their cause. They (plural) could even have gone farther by making up their own new pronouns and challenging the world to use a novel new creation to accommodate the sexually unsure.

Instead these jargonists prefer to take a perfectly good pronoun and strip it down to singularity. In so doing, they have mutilated, emasculated, and disfigured this faithful pronoun and emptied it of meaning. These pedantic paladins of political correctness hide behind the excuse that “they” already has some singular common usages as when used with words like “everyone.” This can be seen in a sentence: “Everyone likes their dogs.” However, this is purely a smokescreen in this dirty war to hide an agenda that uses languages as one of its most effective weapons.

Of course this only applies to a singular person who claims to not want to be identified by his gender.  From the ADS post:

While editors have increasingly moved to accepting singular they when used in a generic fashion, voters in the Word of the Year proceedings singled out its newer usage as an identifier for someone who may identify as “non-binary” in gender terms.

“In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation,” Zimmer said. “While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.”
Which infuriates John Hovatt II further:

This development is truly tragic because such artificial impositions go against the very purpose of language. Language should give clarity to thought. Its beauty consists in its ability to define concisely and clearly. The richness of vocabulary comes from how well words express nuance and subtlety.

But singular they? All is muddled and confused. If you have one they and add another they do they become two theys or are theys simply they? No one really knows, nor do the linguists really care. They (plural) want to make a political statement and force upon the users the task of determining the context of the usage. It assumes the public is savy to the esoteric world of politically-correct jargon.

There is another reason why this usage of singular they is wrong. The principal purpose of language is to express the truth. Words are essential vehicles for uniting ideas to things -- a simple definition of truth. A man, for example, has an idea of what a cat is. When he sees the cat, he exclaims: Cat! The word communicates a truth to all those around him. It instantly unites the idea and the thing.

Now how is a person supposed to know when writing about most people that this particular person wants to be identified as a “non-binary, gender-neutral” person?  You can’t, so the default will ultimately be that all people will be referred to in a gender-neutral way.  Just when you thought modernity can’t get more insane, it does.

No comments:

Post a Comment