On 07/02/2020 10:19 AM, David Mertz wrote:
On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 12:58 PM Piper Thunstrom wrote:
On 07/02/2020 David Mertz wrote:
TL;DR: It's not a recent usage; it was OK in 1375.
Over the last handful of decades, singular "they" has been explicitly taught as inappropriate. My own college writing classes (only 10 years ago now) included this specific piece of advice.
My college writing class in 1985 or so DID NOT eschew singular they. I've been a professional writer for about 30 years now. I am happy to stipulate that your class in 2010 at some particular college included an instructor saying "don't use singular they" ... but that was not uniform across universities in 2010, probably not even across the entire faculty at your particular school.
I'm 55 yo, and I remember 50 years ago hearing the nonsense claim that "singular they" is "bad feminists trying to corrupt the English language." I probably didn't know the 14th century origin of the use until a decade or two later than that, but this identical discussion was already extremely old by the time you were born.
I personally found "they" difficult to use -- I learned it as a plural, and tend to use "one" as a singular, non gender-specific pronoun. But thanks to both my daughter (who studies 16th and 17th century literature), and online articles, I use it now (it stills feels odd at times).
But the text in question said nothing about gender issues -- it was about race issues. Can anyone shed light on that? If there is something I need to learn I would like to learn it.
What I can offer in return: Know your audience. If there is a difference between white supremacy and White Supremacy you shouldn't expect a majority of programmers to know it.