Hi, Ben Gertzfield !
On Thu, Jul 10, 2003 at 10:07:44AM -0700, Ben Gertzfield wrote:
This is not technically correct English, but it's a very common usage.
I was supposing something like this. That's how we live and learn. And that is why I added P.S. about not being native English speaker.
Since there is no gender-neutral way in English to refer to a person whose gender is unknown (in this case, the owner of the email address) the word "they" in a singular sense is often used for this purpose.
"He or she" (which is more correct) sounds awkward in many cases, and the singular pronoun "it" is not used to refer to people.
The same is in Russian. Also, ``it'' may be used as euphemism.
To be more correct, "he or she" should probably be used in the original English above, but the original sentence is completely understandable to this native English speaker.
You can translate it as a gender-neutral singular pronoun like "it" if your language uses that for people, or use the equivalent of "he or she".
In Russian it is almost the same situation: plural pronoun of 3-rd person is gender-neutral (singular ones are not). And in Russian we sometimes can use the constructions like this one: ``он(а) попробовал(а)''. It is almost the same as in English: ``(s)he tried''.
I will keep my eye on French translation: they discriminate (in good sense) plural pronoun of 3-rd person. ``Elles'' can only be used when we speak about group of women only. ``Ils'', on the other hand, is for men only as well as for mixed group. And this part of messages file is not yet translated.
Thank again for your extended explanation.