Subject: Re: PART TWO: winning industrial-use of lisp:  Re: Norvig's latest paper on Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 15:16:31 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* John Wiseman
| Long-standing tradition before then, and the custom I use because it | feels
| quite natural, is to use "they" as a singular gender-neutral pronoun.

* Erik Naggum
> There is some record of illiterate use of "they" in this function, but that
> usage lost grounds a _really_ long time ago.

* "Patrick W" <>
| In my (native English-speaking) environment, it is common, natural and
| correct to refer to "he or she" as "they", "him or her" as "them", and "his
| or her" as "their" in some circumstances.  Usually "he" suffices, but a
| confident native speaker knows that "they" is sometimes more appropriate.

  Does it remain _singular_?  Not in my experience, except for the illiterates.
  James A. Crippen went ballistic not even seeing this point for all the hate
  he could not control, but what normally happens is that people drop the
  correspondence in number and use they as a _plural_ form to refer back to a
  _singular_ referent.  I use that myself, sometimes.  But it does not remain
  singular.  That would be ungrammatical and extremely grating on my ear.

  I gave a pretty clear example of precisely what I meant.  I have never heard
  or heard about _anyone_ use "they" in the _singular_ grammatical capacity.

  _Precision_ in communication is not a trait with native speakers, is it?
  Guide to non-spammers: If you want to send me a business proposal, please be
  specific and do not put "business proposal" in the Subject header.  If it is
  urgent, do not use the word "urgent".  If you need an immediate answer, give
  me a reason, do not shout "for your immediate attention".  Thank you.