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1) You are listening to a phone conversation between someone ... usage of that disgraceful poor grammar is "common usage".

I feel your pain. 1 and 2 above are the same, the use of the plural to avoid the gender ... jacket, please come to the office." I was certain it was a boy's jacket, it was an all boys school.

You are both laboring under the very common misconception that this use of singular "they" involves gender uncertainty. It doesn't, as your second example clearly shows.
What happens is this: Many, many English speakers have an unconscious perception that "he" and "she" should be used only to refer to some specific person, either an understood person or someone mentioned previously. If the antecedent is uncertain or unknown (and even if the antecedent's sex IS known), they will use "they". It very commonly occurs in locutions with "whoever," "anybody," "somebody," "no one," "whoever," "every," etc.

It is also used by a speaker to distance himeself from the person referred to, implying that there is no relationship whatever. An example is, "Someone came to the door looking for you but they wouldn't say who they were."
Not to mention "often" and "interesting"? Ever hear anyone pronounce the latter with four full syllables?

You never watched "Laugh In"? Arte Johnson?

Not the same. He was pronouncing "interethting."

Bob Lieblich
Sock it to me
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I feel we need to distinguish between commonly encountered errors and idiom. The sort of idiom that enshrines what would ... as eggs is eggs". Others are not: "Aren't I?" (1) Not in the OED of my coining, by analogy with "grotesquerie".

I snipped the rest. Most of it I agree with, and the disagreements have been aired many times. I respect Eric's positions and his concern for the language even when I disagree with his conclusions.

Bob Lieblich
The Reasonable Man (on occasion)
I feel we need to distinguish between commonly encountered errors ... Not in the OED of my coining, by analogy with "grotesquerie".

I snipped the rest. Most of it I agree with, and the disagreements have been aired many times. I respect Eric's positions and his concern for the language even when I disagree with his conclusions.

Whoops! I also snipped my comment on "quainterie" during the editing process. I found exactly one instance of the word through Google, at , and it appears to be used the same as in Eric's comment above. It strikes me as a useful coinage. Let's see how far we can spread it.

Bob Lieblich
The high-price spreader
Whoops! I also snipped my comment on "quainterie" during the editing process. I found exactly one instance of the word ... as in Eric's comment above. It strikes me as a useful coinage. Let's see how far we can spread it.

Fascinating! "Cosmopolis" is a magazine devoted to appreciations of and comments on the fiction of Jack Vance. I am a huge Jack Vance enthusiast (http://greatsfandf.com/AUTHORS/JackVance.php ), and that is just the sort of word he would coin (his genius at coinage is set forth in the collection The Jack Vance Lexicon: From Ahulph to Zipangote : The Coined Words of Jack Vance ). I now wonder if he actually used it somewhere and it stuck in my subconscious (I have read all his non-criminous fiction many times over).
But if he didn't, and I just made it up by parallels with his sort of coinage, he still deserves much credit. If the term ever become Word of the Week, I'll give all credit to Mr. Vance (with a nod to Mr. Lieblich).
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Nicely written. The only thing I would take issue with is guess what? I'm a known descriptivist. Aren't I?

If you say so. But, since I was responding to the original post by Mr. Tyler, the relevance of that to the points covered is unclear to me.
Nicely written. The only thing I would take issue with is guess what? I'm a known descriptivist. Aren't I?

If you say so. But, since I was responding to the original post by Mr. Tyler, the relevance of that to the points covered is unclear to me.

Is it just me?

I feel we need to distinguish between commonly encountered errors and idiom. The sort of idiom that enshrines what would normally be simple error as acceptable is usually called "cast-iron idiom", signifying that using any but the received form is now the error. Some are just matters of quainterie(1): "Sure as eggs is eggs". Others are not: "Aren't I?"
I said the only thing I would take issue with is..
"Aren't I?"
Meaning I do not agree that "others are not" in the case of "aren't I?".

But perhaps I misunderstood the gist of what you were saying (you seemed to imply that "aren't I?" is erroneous).
Or perhaps my reply was so far removed from your substance that it was not clear, in which case, my apologies.

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
I feel we need to distinguish between commonly encountered errors and idiom. The sort of idiom that enshrines what would ... issue with is.. "Aren't I?" Meaning I do not agree that "others are not" in the case of "aren't I?".

Ah. Gotcha now. Sorry, I didn't properly follow the chain of connection.
I daresay it's of no great importance to either of us, but it strikes me that things like "sure as eggs is eggs", even if they be genuine in their ultimate origins, enter the common tongue by way of self-conscious uses by folk who know full well the extent to which they deviate from the norms. They are, so to speak, the patter of "stage rurals" or some such thing. Forms like "Aren't I?" seem to me to be unconscious errors that simply became embalmed through constant repetition, rather than self-conscious quainterie.

It is a belief in the reality of latter phenomenon that powers much resistance to sloppy uses even in "informal" contexts. Gresham's Law and all that.
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Comfterbul is an accepted pronunciation of comfortable. My wife pronounces it com-for-TAH-bul, which I think is cute.

My whole post is about "accepted" pronunciations. Common usage and common mispronunciation bring about "accepted" pronunciations. At some point in the future, real-a-tor and nu-cu-lar may turn up as accepted pronunciations. Jack

Jack, I agree with you. We English-speakers might be forgiven for feeling a tad supercilious that we do not have to wrestle with gender-specific nouns. I think it would be a step forward if we also had a gender-neutral pronoun. In other words, if some word ‹ perhaps "their" ‹ became officially accepted as a substitute for "his or her"

I mean, the language is already in a bit of difficulty when we note that the feminine equivalent of "his" could be "her" or "hers" depending on context.
Your post brings a different smile to my face. I remember an incident long ago surrounding gender. I was in control of a prospectus and I was hand-delivering copies to selected stockbrokers. I came to a new firm that I was not famiiar with and approached the...um...women at the desk to hand them some prospectuses and a copy of the covering letter.

The wimmin at the desk scowled and asked why I had assumed that I would find men in the office. "Dear Sirs" had offended this bunch of lesbians who had set up a female-client-and-staff-only brokerage.

I scowled back and asked why did she assume that it had been I who wrote the letter.
JoeTaxpayer:‹
'Irregardless' is becoming an accepted variant.

God, I hope not.
Jack again:‹
As far as "coworker" is concerned, I saw a post once where the writer placed a hyphen in the word to avoid problems. She placed the hyphen between "cow" and "orker" accidentally.

This is so funny.
Unless the writer were saddled with a Windows PC (Talk about dumbing down!) whose* word-processing algorithms sometimes place a hyphen in a journalist's text to tidy up the end of a line. Then he/she edits the text further, moving the broken word to the middle of a line but the hyphen does not disappear.
*highlighting another difficulty in English. Two, actually.

First, there is a trend towards saying "the guy that wrote it..." when "who" is correct.
Second, if I had not used "who" here, i would've been forced to write "the word-processing algorithms of which..." damned clumsy, in my opinion. So I use "who" even for inanimates and I don't blush.

Then (Email Removed) contributed:‹
Comfterbul is an accepted pronunciation of comfortable. My wife pronounces it com-for-TAH-bul, which I think is cute.

Well, in Australia, New Zealand and sometimes the UK, this is the common pronunciation among those who take a little care with their language. You need only say it a bit faster than usual and you end up with comf'table which is really the most common, I think. (I'm assuming ‹ hoping ‹ that you were never contemplating "com FOR table" which would really jangle my ears.
But then I lately hear the BBC saying, more and more often, "Harris" when they mean "Harass" and a common Americanism that makes me grumpy "adverTISEment".
Joe had the gloomiest news in the thread:‹
Indeed, to my horror, nuke-U-lar is accepted. Homer Simpson has done this to us.

Joe, I don't think it was Homer, i think it was Shrubya. "Statistics" is another word that some people consantly stumble on. Not to mention "Ceausescu".
Well, while I'm on a roll, why does the BBC (indeed, most of the UK) insist on saying "nick-a-rag-you-uh" when the locals say something aspproaching "neec-a-rahh-gwah" with the "g" almost absent. I think we have an obligation to try to pronounce place-names the way the locals do.
Th BBC sins again when they say "Tongga"
Robert Lieblich had the last word:‹
Youse guys are just gonna hafta learn that English as She is Spoke

That's Strine, right, Robert? Owyagoinmateorright?

Oh no, the last word is mine: "mis-cheevious"
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