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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    A new scholarly interpretation!

    Sometimes, people have great powers to confuse and convince!
    I am an occasional contributor to wikipedia.
    Recently, an accomplished poster wrote to me for a single person, say, John:
    Pinging John, since they seem to be the original target of this inquiry.
    I was surprised. I wrote:
    John is just one person who helped on an earlier query. Why did sir use 'they'?
    to which the accomplished poster replied:
    "they" is a gender-free pronoun, used in the third person to refer to someone else. It can be singular or plural.
    I truly believe there is always something to learn even when one is quite aged. But I could not accept the apparently convoluted grammatical rule which appears totally new to me!
    Could you please advise?
    Regards

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    #2

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    It's not a convoluted rule. They and them are frequently used as singular pronouns. You can find such usage in the King James Bible, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and many more modern sources.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    The Associated Press just accepted its general use.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #4

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    What's more, it has become more prominent recently in Canada, the US and the UK as a gender-neutral way of referring to a transgender person.

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    #5

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    When an unspecified person is being talked about it makes some sense.

    This person is going out of his way to show that he is not assuming that "John" is a male.

  6. Newbie
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    #6

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    Thank you, GoesStation, emsr2d2, jutfrank & SoothingDave, for replying so quickly!
    I am really surprised! I would need time to digest the fact!
    I had once read that the form of English in King James bible and Shakespeare is no longer in use, and that Shakespeare is no longer taught in the most prominant British Universities.
    Why 'they'? One could as well have used 'it' as a gender-neutral singular form!
    I see that people love undue complications!

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    #7

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    It is unsuitable because we don't use it for people. They as a gender-neutral personal pronoun arose naturally from the spoken language. The centuries-long list of attestations in a thorough dictionary show that it has been used the same way in print.
    I am not a teacher.

  8. Newbie
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    #8

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    It is unsuitable because we don't use it for people...
    Yes, I am aware of that too! But I just used the thought to express my dismay!

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    ...The centuries-long list of attestations in a thorough dictionary show that it has been used the same way in print.
    Any famous old dictionary source please? A snapshot, for instance? I am requesting because you all have been of so much help! And I can't shake off my disbelief!
    It is there in Google, of course!
    Quote Originally Posted by www.Google.com
    they
    šeɪ/
    pronoun
    pronoun: they
    ...
    2.
    used to refer to a person of unspecified gender.
    "ask a friend if they could help"
    And Cambridge too!
    Quote Originally Posted by http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/they
    ...
    used to avoid saying "he or she": "There's someone on the phone for you." "What do they want?"
    But for late 19th and early 20th centuries?
    Last edited by bkpsusmitaa; 29-Mar-2017 at 04:12. Reason: readability

  9. Newbie
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    #9

    Re: A new scholarly interpretation!

    It is unclear in http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=they but very clear in the Usage alert for the word in http://www.dictionary.com/browse/the...src=ref&ch=dic but precise sources/references have not been given.

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