Thank you to each one of you who voted in the poll which tested which English generic singular pronoun you use where the antecedent is an indefinite pronoun. The poll has been up for many weeks and now it is time to take it down. Here are the poll results:In the sentence, "Everyone should bring _____ own lunch tomorrow," what word do you usually put in the blank space?
|200 votes total|
200 votes were cast. As you can see, visitors to this blog have a mixed response to the poll question. By a ratio of 2:1 respondents say the singular "they" is the pronoun they would use in the example sentence. These results support the claim that the singular "they" has been experiencing a revival of usage among English speakers. It usage dates back to the late 1200's and early 1300's and has been used by many highly respected authors over the centuries, including Shakespeare, the translators of the KJV, C.S. Lewis, and many others. The singular "they" is syntactically plural but semantically singular. As such, it parallels a number of other linguistic forms where syntax does not align exactly with semantics.
The generic singular "he" continues to be preferred by many English speakers. It is the pronoun which many of us, myself included, were taught in school was the only
generic third person singular pronoun which was "proper." But, of course, what is proper is not really determined by English teachers, but, rather, by social decisions, typically made unconsciously, by a majority of speakers of a language.
Stay tuned for other language usage polls which relate to linguistic forms which are used in English Bible versions.Categories: language usage, singular they, generic pronoun