On 2020-07-02 15:19, Piper Thunstrom wrote:
On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 10:01 AM Paul Moore email@example.com wrote:
What *is* the correct inclusive way to refer to an unidentified person in a technical document, without sacrificing clarity by using convoluted circumlocutions like "he/her/they" or over-use of the passive voice? My impression is that commonly accepted language rules and usage are lagging behind, and there's no good answer to this question yet :-(
Paul, this is actually a good question to ask. In general, singular "they" is becoming more popular. It's already used frequently for the singular indeterminate pronoun:
"Someone wants to talk to you." "What do they want?"
Those who favor prescriptivism will tell you this is improper usage (especially when it goes from an unknown someone to a known someone) but it avoids the strange construction of "he or she" and is more inclusive of diverse genders and is historically how the word was used. (For a fun counter example, the word "you" used to be a plural second person pronoun, but no one today would argue that it makes no sense to use it for an individual.)
Here's an article on singular 'they':
TL;DR: It's not a recent usage; it was OK in 1375.