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Darwin-L Message Log 3:89 (November 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<3:89>From mayerg@cs.uwp.edu  Mon Nov 22 11:47:50 1993

Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1993 11:47:56 -0600 (CST)
From: Gregory Mayer <mayerg@cs.uwp.edu>
Subject: Re: Momentum and other physical metaphors in history
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

> One that can be followed now is the
> drift towards using the plural "they" or "their" in the predicate of
> a sentence with a singular neuter subject: "everyone"; "each" and so
> on. The shift is a response to not depending on a masculine singular
> pronoun--and avoiding the clumsy his/her etc.

	I frequently use the "they/their" construction when referring to a
neuter singular subject.  I don't believe this is a recent development to
avoid the clumsy his/her, though.  My recollection is that this has been a
common form for many years where I grew up (New York).  Another "gap", the
lack of a distinct second person plural, has led to the usage in New York
of "yous" (often spelled "youse") and "you guys" (similar to Southern "you
all") when speaking to a group (of either or both sexes).
	Are these gaps what linguists call "imbalances" (a term used by
some in previous postings)?

Gregory C. Mayer
mayerg@cs.uwp.edu

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