python vs c#

Steve Holden steve at
Sun Oct 3 04:45:52 CEST 2004

Tim Roberts wrote:

> Sam Holden <sholden at> wrote:
>>Steve Holden <steve at> wrote:
>>>This particular pickle is a disagreement of number: since there is only 
>>>one village, the correct slogan should be "... is missing its idiot". If 
>>>you thought it was "... it's idiot" then take two demerits and refrain 
>>>from posting on for 48 hours.
>>Their isn't necessarily plural so that isn't a problem. Since arguing
>>grammar isn't something I can do successfully, I'll instead resort
>>to an appeal to authority and say that one of the authors of 
>>"The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language" agrees with me:
> Two points.  First, that web page just QUOTES from "The Cambridge Grammar
> of the English Language."  The page itself is just a blog, and everyone
> knows that "if you see it on a blog, it must be true."  ;/
> Second, "their" is allowed as a singular pronoun only in those cases where
> a gender-specific pronoun is called for, but the gender is unclear or would
> be sexist.  Instead of "Everyone brought his Python manual," we are now
> allowed to say "Everyone brought their Python manual."
> However, in the example that started this, "village" has no gender.  Thus,
> I don't see that "their" is an acceptable alternative to "its" in this
> case.
> I love this kind of debate.  I wish it didn't irritate people so much...

Well, as far as I can see (since you've admitted you're in this for 
fun), I agree that the stated use of "their" you mention was primarily 
for reasons of political correctness, to avoid arguments about whether 
"his or her" or "her or his" should be used.

Of course Aahz would doubtless be able to quote the specific genitive 
form of "zhie", a word I have never been able to like, invented for much 
the same reason (and I've probably got the word wrong, since I'm 
definitely not a regular user).

I must admit I didn't find the Cambridge quote at all convincing. And I 
don't mind irritating people ... now there's a nice ambiguity for you!

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