Sam Smith and They

Clippings from news sources involving fashion freedom and other gender equality issues.

Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby crfriend » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:05 am

FranTastic444 wrote:Carl, were you aware of the connection between Astral Weeks and Boston?

I was aware of some of it, but the level of detail in the linked story is positively fabulous. Thanks for that!
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Jim » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:38 am

crfriend wrote:It's behind a paywall for anybody using advanced anti-advert technology, but t can still be read, albeit somewhat painfully, by reading the raw HTML.

Just copy and paste into your HTML writer, then view as web page. Simple!
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Big and Bashful » Tue Sep 24, 2019 2:48 pm

Just listening to a Jeremy Vine topic on a couple who have decided to raise their baby as gender neutral, (With the mother being called "Hobbit" there is a lot of alternative lifestyle in the item). However, while listening to the item, I have used the gift of Google to do a bit of research. The use of "They" to refer to a single person isn't all that recent, being used in 1375 so the use of THEY to refer to an individual is around 645 years old (in print anyway).

Here is the article from the Oxford English Dictionary:

quote:
A brief history of singular ‘they’
Singular they has become the pronoun of choice to replace he and she in cases where the gender of the antecedent – the word the pronoun refers to – is unknown, irrelevant, or nonbinary, or where gender needs to be concealed. It’s the word we use for sentences like Everyone loves his mother.

But that’s nothing new. The Oxford English Dictionary traces singular they back to 1375, where it appears in the medieval romance William and the Werewolf. Except for the old-style language of that poem, its use of singular they to refer to an unnamed person seems very modern. Here’s the Middle English version: ‘Hastely hiȝed eche . . . þei neyȝþed so neiȝh . . . þere william & his worþi lef were liand i-fere.’ In modern English, that’s: ‘Each man hurried . . . till they drew near . . . where William and his darling were lying together.’

Since forms may exist in speech long before they’re written down, it’s likely that singular they was common even before the late fourteenth century. That makes an old form even older.

In the eighteenth century, grammarians began warning that singular they was an error because a plural pronoun can’t take a singular antecedent. They clearly forgot that singular you was a plural pronoun that had become singular as well. You functioned as a polite singular for centuries, but in the seventeenth century singular you replaced thou, thee, and thy, except for some dialect use. That change met with some resistance. In 1660, George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, wrote a whole book labeling anyone who used singular you an idiot or a fool. And eighteenth-century grammarians like Robert Lowth and Lindley Murray regularly tested students on thou as singular, you as plural, despite the fact that students used singular you when their teachers weren’t looking, and teachers used singular you when their students weren’t looking. Anyone who said thou and thee was seen as a fool and an idiot, or a Quaker, or at least hopelessly out of date.

Singular you has become normal and unremarkable. Also unremarkable are the royal we and, in countries without a monarchy, the editorial we: first-person plurals used regularly as singulars and nobody calling anyone an idiot and a fool. And singular they is well on its way to being normal and unremarkable as well. Toward the end of the twentieth century, language authorities began to approve the form. The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) not only accepts singular they, they also use the form in their definitions. And the New Oxford American Dictionary (Third Edition, 2010), calls singular they ‘generally accepted’ with indefinites, and ‘now common but less widely accepted’ with definite nouns, especially in formal contexts.

Not everyone is down with singular they. The well-respected Chicago Manual of Style still rejects singular they for formal writing, and just the other day a teacher told me that he still corrects students who use everyone … their in their papers, though he probably uses singular they when his students aren’t looking. Last Fall, a transgender Florida school teacher was removed from their fifth-grade classroom for asking their students to refer to them with the gender-neutral singular they. And two years ago, after the Diversity Office at the University of Tennessee suggested that teachers ask their students, ‘What’s your pronoun?’ because some students might prefer an invented nonbinary pronoun like zie or something more conventional, like singular they, the Tennessee state legislature passed a law banning the use of taxpayer dollars for gender-neutral pronouns, despite the fact that no one knows how much a pronoun actually costs.

It’s no surprise that Tennessee, the state that banned the teaching of evolution in 1925, also failed to stop the evolution of English one hundred years later, because the fight against singular they was already lost by the time eighteenth-century critics began objecting to it. In 1794, a contributor to the New Bedford Medley mansplains to three women that the singular they they used in an earlier essay in the newspaper was grammatically incorrect and does no ‘honor to themselves, or the female sex in general.’ To which they honourably reply that they used singular they on purpose because ‘we wished to conceal the gender,’ and they challenge their critic to invent a new pronoun if their politically-charged use of singular they upsets him so much. More recently, a colleague who is otherwise conservative told me that they found singular they useful ‘when talking about what certain people in my field say about other people in my field as a way of concealing the identity of my source.’

Former Chief Editor of the OED Robert Burchfield, in The New Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1996), dismisses objections to singular they as unsupported by the historical record. Burchfield observes that the construction is ‘passing unnoticed’ by speakers of standard English as well as by copy editors, and he concludes that this trend is ‘irreversible’. People who want to be inclusive, or respectful of other people’s preferences, use singular they. And people who don’t want to be inclusive, or who don’t respect other people’s pronoun choices, use singular they as well. Even people who object to singular they as a grammatical error use it themselves when they’re not looking, a sure sign that anyone who objects to singular they is, if not a fool or an idiot, at least hopelessly out of date.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Stu » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:33 pm

Sorry, but in modern English, the pronoun "they" is plural. It only refers to the singular where the gender is unknown.

Pronouns are not names, they are a part of the grammar of the language. As such, the decision regarding which one to use is the prerogative of the speaker and not the referent, and are decided on the basis of the speaker's understanding both of grammatical rules and the semantic reality. Nobody has the right to demand a particular pronoun is to be used when referring to them - and nobody has the right to demand that the grammar of a language is altered to suit their preferences.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby pelmut » Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:56 pm

Stu wrote:.. the decision regarding which one [pronoun] to use is the prerogative of the speaker and not the referent, and are decided on the basis of the speaker's understanding both of grammatical rules and the semantic reality.

I'm not sure what you mean by "semantic reality".  It sounds to me like a cover-up for giving the speaker the right to make ill-informed judgements about the gender of the person they are addressing and then using those judgements freely in a way which can cause offence.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Stu » Tue Sep 24, 2019 5:06 pm

pelmut wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "semantic reality".  It sounds to me like a cover-up for giving the speaker the right to make ill-informed judgements about the gender of the person they are addressing and then using those judgements freely in a way which can cause offence.


What do you mean by "the person they are addressing"? We don't "address" people by their third person pronouns - they are referring expressions, not modes of address.

A speaker is perfectly entitled to make a judgment about the sex of the person he is referring to - or addressing for that matter. The human species is sexually dimorphic, i.e. there are males and females, and our language reflects that. The vast majority of people fall into one of those two categories, and that includes the vast majority of trans and intersex people. The term "semantic reality" means what it says, i.e. reality as it appears to the speaker when using his own language. We have a right to free speech, and that includes the right to speak what we perceive as the truth. We do not have a right to demand others avoid speaking the truth to protect our feelings from offence.

And that is me exercising my right to free speech. :)
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Fred in Skirts » Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:56 pm

Personally I think this thing of what to call people is totally unnecessary. And arguing about what is the proper meaning of words a total waste of time. I believe that we should call others as we see them. we don't need to invent words or take words that mean something else and try to fit them to mean what someone else wants them to mean.

A spade is a spade after all. And you can use that spade to dig up all of the weird stuff you want. :lol:
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby moonshadow » Tue Sep 24, 2019 7:23 pm

Big and Bashful wrote:In the eighteenth century, grammarians began warning that singular they was an error because a plural pronoun can’t take a singular antecedent. They clearly forgot that singular you was a plural pronoun that had become singular as well. You functioned as a polite singular for centuries, but in the seventeenth century singular you replaced thou, thee, and thy, except for some dialect use. That change met with some resistance. In 1660, George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, wrote a whole book labeling anyone who used singular you an idiot or a fool.


Heh... a pre-nazi grammar nazi.... :lol:
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby pelmut » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:18 pm

Stu wrote:[The human species is sexually dimorphic, i.e. there are males and females, and our language reflects that. The vast majority of people fall into one of those two categories, and that includes the vast majority of trans and intersex people.

The whole point about intersex people is that they don't fall into either of those categories -- that is why they are called "intersex".  Transgender people have a gender which differs from their sex, so they don't want to be called something that conflicts with their gender; if you want to be considerate, you call them what they want to be called, not what you think they ought to be called.  

You are, of course, perfectly at liberty to call people anything you like, but you shouldn't be surprised if you sometimes get a punch in the face for doing it.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Stu » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:13 am

The vast majority of intersex people are clear that they are eitger male or female and present accordingly. The same applies to transsexual people. Referring to them according to the sex they purport to be makes no demands on a speaker in terms of ignoring reality or breaching the rules of grammar.

However, this thread relates to someone who is unambiguously male, and makes no effort to conceal that,
but has certain "feelings" which don't accord with his physical reality. In such a case, I believe I am under no obligation to pander to his preferences when it comes to referring to him in interactions with a third party. It is not reasonable to insist that speakers eschew their perception of truth and abandon the grammar of their own language to accommodate another's sensibilities.

As any cattle farmer will tell you, there are bulls and there are heffers. Likewise humans. We are either male or we are female.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Big and Bashful » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:37 am

moonshadow wrote:
Big and Bashful wrote:In the eighteenth century, grammarians began warning that singular they was an error because a plural pronoun can’t take a singular antecedent. They clearly forgot that singular you was a plural pronoun that had become singular as well. You functioned as a polite singular for centuries, but in the seventeenth century singular you replaced thou, thee, and thy, except for some dialect use. That change met with some resistance. In 1660, George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, wrote a whole book labeling anyone who used singular you an idiot or a fool.


Heh... a pre-nazi grammar nazi.... :lol:

Perish the thought! I merely quoted a chunk from the OED to keep things ticking along!
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby pelmut » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:42 am

Stu wrote:The vast majority of intersex people are clear that they are eitger male or female and present accordingly.

They are forced to choose an arbitrary sex because, in most cases, there is no provision for intersex.  They are inter-sex, that is what 'intersex' means.

As any cattle farmer will tell you, there are bulls and there are heffers.
...and there are intersex cattle (Freemartin etc.) -- I know because I have worked with the researchers who dealt with them.  This is a complex field which goes way beyond the simplistic male/female we were taught at school.  Now that it is easier and cheaper to check on chromosomes, all sorts of previously-unsuspected conditions, such as chimera, are turning out to be quite common.  If we insist on dividing what we now know to be a spectrum into only two possibilities, we are bound to get false results.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Stu » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:31 am

First, as I said, intersex itself is rare and the vast majority among that tiny minority of intersex people are clear whether they are male or female. Most intersex conditions do not result in people (or cattle) who are totally androgynous. Consequently, a physically intersex person who has no affiliation with either sex is an extreme rarity and not a reason to reformulate our language at the level of function words like pronouns.

Second, the individual in this case is not intersex: he is a man - an adult human being who has some issues about his gender identity. I don't diminish his issues - they are real to him - but they do not change the factual truth that he is biologically male and so people have every right refer to him as such. We don't get to decide what we are - we are what we are by objective criteria. I may feel like a teenager, or a Roman Emperor, or that I am pregnant, but I am not any of these and I have no right to demand that others refer to me as such.
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby Fred in Skirts » Wed Sep 25, 2019 4:52 pm

Stu wrote:Second, the individual in this case is not intersex: he is a man - an adult human being who has some issues about his gender identity. I don't diminish his issues - they are real to him - but they do not change the factual truth that he is biologically male and so people have every right refer to him as such. We don't get to decide what we are - we are what we are by objective criteria. I may feel like a teenager, or a Roman Emperor, or that I am pregnant, but I am not any of these and I have no right to demand that others refer to me as such.


Hear Hear!!
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Re: Sam Smith and They

Postby pelmut » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:33 pm

Stu wrote:First, as I said, intersex itself is rare and the vast majority among that tiny minority of intersex people are clear whether they are male or female...

I would be interested to see where your statistics came from.  Most of the official forms I have seen only allow two categories, so intersex people cannot be recorded on them as intersex.  

Men wearing skirts are rare, but it does not mean they do not exist; neither does it mean they should be forced into inappropriate categories by people who are too ignorant to recognise that wearing a skirt is not an indicator of any other underlying condition.

I may feel like a teenager, or a Roman Emperor, or that I am pregnant, but I am not any of these and I have no right to demand that others refer to me as such.

You know you are a man in a skirt but if someone misguidedly thinks you look to them like a woman, homosexual, transgender or a drag queen, are they right to call you any of those things?
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