Sunday, 12 October 2008

Pronoun Note


Here's another of those traditionalists decrying the use of the singular 'they'. As far as I can tell, his objections are: (a) that he doesn't like it; and (b) tradition. I've nothing to add to what I've said before on this. I do find it interesting, however, that he seems also not to be comfortable with using 'she' where you mean 'he or she' (or, indeed, the singular 'they'). What possible objection could there be to doing so, when 'he' was so long used in this way and still often is? Mix it up, that's my view: say, now 'she', now 'he', now 'he or she', now 'they'. It will help to end such pointless pedantry.

I'm not a big fan of "they". While it works, and does the job reasonably well, and can even sometimes be elegant, on the whole it clunks a bit. But Norm's suggested solution, to mix up the pronouns, is an excellent idea and one I use a lot (not necessarily here). If nothing else, it keeps readers on their ideological toes. It also keeps you, the writer, on your aesthetic toes, because in different sentences, contexts, the different pronouns will have varying effects. So, following Norm, - try them out!

No comments: