Sam Smith and They

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FranTastic444
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Sam Smith and They

Post by FranTastic444 »

Sam Smith, a very popular artiste in the arena of pop music for the youth of today, has announced that he is non-binary.

He seems to have a penchant for heels but to date he seems to have mainly dressed in traditional male garb. It will be interesting to see if / how he dresses going forward.

My reason for posting is to ask for opinions on use of they / them. I find it a most unsatisfactory solution in that it corrupts the original use of the words. I totally get that a different pronoun that is neither he or she is needed here, but the use of they seems so wrong in my mind - almost inferring that someone who is non-binary is some sort of schizophrenic This article lists some of the alternative option.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by moonshadow »

I always liked "ze".

I thought I'd have a hard time getting used to "they", but I seemed to have adjusted.
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crfriend
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by crfriend »

moonshadow wrote:I always liked "ze".
That'd work, because there is no proper non-gendered pronoun in English save for "it", which would be viewed by the terminally sensitive as highly offensive.
I thought I'd have a hard time getting used to "they", but I seemed to have adjusted.
Playing the Proper English card here, "I seemed to have adjusted..." is just plain wrong. "I seem to have adjusted..." is syntactically and grammatically correct. Also syntactically and grammatically correct could be, "I was adjusted..." as if by an outside force compelling you to acquiesce to the "new normal". I suspect the latter is actually what happened because of creeping PC.

When I first heard of the use of "them"/"they" I immediately rejected the notion out-of-hand because we can be only one thing at a time, and "they/them" state otherwise. Taking this to the next level, if someone isn't sure what he/she/it is how can that individual possibly know who they are -- and that lands it square in the realm of the psychologists and the philosophers. A monarch is allowed the use of the plural in referring to him/herself in the plural (the "Royal We"); commoners are not, full stop. And in any event, the Royal We is an entirely different construct used for a completely different purpose.
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john62
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by john62 »

I am afraid that I find the whole idiotic, if you present as a male the pronoun is "he", if female then "she". This world is just plain crazy, all the important issues like survival of us and the planet we ignore and then we argue about this stuff which is just not really important.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by Stu »

People own their names and are free to choose and change them at will; they are also modes of address. However, pronouns are referential not vocatives, and people don't own the pronouns others use to refer to them. Pronouns are part of the grammar of the language.

The pronouns "they" and "them" are plural in grammar and I will not use them in relation to a single entity.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by Ray »

I’m happy to use whatever pronoun the individual wishes. It’s not about me.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by pelmut »

john62 wrote:...if you present as a male the pronoun is "he", if female then "she"...
What if you don't present as either (e.g. if you are intersex or asexual)?  Why should you be forced to pretend to conform to a false classification system?
There is no such thing as a normal person, only someone you don't know very well yet.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by pelmut »

Stu wrote:The pronouns "they" and "them" are plural in grammar ...
Not exclusively; there is also a singular "they" which can be used quite properly about an individual if their sex is not known (or may not be specified for some reason).
There is no such thing as a normal person, only someone you don't know very well yet.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by moonshadow »

Ray wrote:I’m happy to use whatever pronoun the individual wishes. It’s not about me.
Yeah that's kinda how I roll with it... it seems at any given time I've got bigger fish to fry...

Besides, The trans people certainly aren't the most obnoxious group of people demanding respect. There is another group where respect is all but mandated by law and is handed down across the masses whether people agree with it or not.

Not wanting to thread drift.... I'll leave that there....
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by Stu »

pelmut wrote:
Stu wrote:The pronouns "they" and "them" are plural in grammar ...
Not exclusively; there is also a singular "they" which can be used quite properly about an individual if their sex is not known (or may not be specified for some reason).
True - but the implication of that semantically is that the person could be another person of the opposite sex and that's why the exception is allowed grammatically.

We address people by their names which are what they choose. We never address people by third person pronouns: they are a referring expression and not a vocative. When we use third person pronouns, we are addressing someone else and our choice of pronouns is ours to make based on our perception of their sex and the rules of grammar. If you want to refer to a single entity as "they" then that is your choice and I would defend your right to do so. By the same token, nobody has the right to dictate to someone else their choice of which pronoun to use. That is my point: we don't get to choose the pronouns others use to refer to us. That's the speaker's choice.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by pelmut »

Stu wrote:... nobody has the right to dictate to someone else their choice of which pronoun to use.
"Dictate" is perhaps a little strong, but the pronoun chosen by a considerate speaker will be the one the person would prefer to be known by.  A speaker who repeatedly uses pronouns which they have been asked not to, is inconsiderate at best and a bully at worst.
There is no such thing as a normal person, only someone you don't know very well yet.

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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by Ray »

I see that the Merriam-Webster dictionary has just added “they” as an acceptable non-binary pronoun. So there you are. It’s official. Well, in the USA anyway!

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Re: Sam Smith and They

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moonshadow wrote:I always liked "ze".
I thought I'd have a hard time getting used to "they", but I seemed to have adjusted.
I'd like to see a genderless pronoun become common in English, but "ze" would not get my vote. I certainly don't want legislation defining words that sound made up by first-graders.

"They" is only gaining traction because it is already often used that way when speaking about a non-specific other person. For example, someone might say "if a customer doesn't like Coke then they can choose Pepsi instead." In that case, "they" is being used as a collective singular, which is almost like a plural, so it doesn't offend the ear too much, and it replaces the much more clumsy "he or she" alternative.

Personally, I have no problem just picking either "he" or "she" when speaking about an unspecified other person. A choice like that can be used to jam stereotypes while still respecting English grammar. For example, "if a customer wants to try on some skirts then offer him one of our change rooms."

"They" is not a word I will ever use to refer to an individual, even if requested. I will probably use his name instead, if a person requests that I use "they".
Daryl...

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Re: Sam Smith and They

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Ray wrote:I’m happy to use whatever pronoun the individual wishes. It’s not about me.
Exactly!
If a man wishes to be addressed as Mrs, she or her and a women wishes to be known as Mr, he or him, then that's fine with me
I would still be a bit uncomfortable using they or them being plural words, but would accept it too if the person referred to wishes it
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"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it" - Joseph Goebbels

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Daryl
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Post by Daryl »

pelmut wrote:
Stu wrote:... nobody has the right to dictate to someone else their choice of which pronoun to use.
"Dictate" is perhaps a little strong, but the pronoun chosen by a considerate speaker will be the one the person would prefer to be known by.  A speaker who repeatedly uses pronouns which they have been asked not to, is inconsiderate at best and a bully at worst.
But the person demanding the use of a special language accomodation, no, that's not a bully. What hooey.
Daryl...

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