Maria wrote:Timotheus wrote:I just read on another site:
"The user can decide how many windows they wish to have open at any one time".
Should we express ourselves in similar ways?
I do not think we should. It is a problem, and getting around is difficult, sometimes impossible. But sometimes it is, like in your example:
"Users can decide how many windows they wish to have open at any one time".
Actually, Im all in favour of this move. Yes, I know, "they" is generally the plural, so technically this is grammatically incorrect, but I think it is moving towards grammatically correct.
The trouble is that, in English, the third person impersonal (uh, or whatever it's called) is somewhat out of fashion. Historically, it would be "one", as in:
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One can decide how many windows one wishes to have open at any one time.
But nowadays we associate such archaic language with period drama. We need an alternative. When you do a degree in England, you get handed a manual laying down the law about what is acceptable language in an essay or dissertation. One rule is always that you must use "his or her" - which, whilst politically correct, is somewhat exhausting. At the same time, "his" really jars in modern contexts. So, I think we do need something to replace "one". And "they" is what we all use in the vernacular (well, except for Eats Shoots and Leaves snobs, I guess), so it makes sense to start making it official. Language changes, and that's a good thing, methinks.
All the best,
P.S. Welcome to Fehnman - I haven't really been following this thread until now, but I'm happy to see you in the discussion. 1.5 looks great.