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Dictionaries do not list hopelessly confused or erroneous meanings without ... the way it was, mainly because you wish it were.

No, I just reject the feminist ideology, because it rests on factual errors and deliberate misinterpretations of history.

There was some of that going on.
There were also some very good points, and in the century since we decided women should be allowed to vote, they have gradually been allowed their rightful place in other areas.
The dictionary's faithful description of usage, with warnings about non-standard usages that are common, is a very good guide to what people actually say and what they mean when they say it.
The meanings of gender given there owe nothing to any imagined feminist imperialism.

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
But that's the problem. Whoever imagined it has an image, and the image is of a male. It is considered a problem because it suggests only a male could be an engineer. While traditionalist grammarians will say that "he" should be used for gender unknown

NO! 'sex' unknown or indeterminate!
, the problem is this ambiguity between cases where that is clearly so, and cases where it might mean the ... a role usually performed by a female (e.g. nurse). You'll find in old usages, it's "she" here, not gender-unknown "he".

'To nurse' originally meant to suckle an infant, so 'she' was appropriate. A 'wet nurse' is a woman employed to breast-feed a baby.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet nurse
For this reason, it does look old-fashioned to use "he" as the gender unknown pronoun.

"Gender indeterminate, not 'unknown'. The 'sex' is unknown; the gender is indeterminate.
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UC filted:

Male/Female = 'sex'. Applies to biology.

And pipe fittings..

Correct.
On 14 Sep 2006 08:24:48 -0700, "Matthew Huntbach"
But that's the problem. Whoever imagined it has an image, and the image is of a male. It is considered ... "gender unknown, but usually male", done in order to challenge assumptions. That looks forced, and I wouldn't recommend it either.

Google "singular they". Here's one article: they

A good summary. I think there may have been some British government directive that singular "they" is permitted, because I've ... something that seems to come naturally, and always has, so I think it's silly to condemn it as "bad grammar".

My argument against it isn't usually because of its wonky grammar but because it leads to high weirdness and plain bad communication. Here's an example from another Wiki article (the one on "gender-neutral language in English" (sic isn't it all?)):
Critics of the "singular they" argue that while it may sound acceptable in some contexts, in others it would clearly sound absurd. For example, they argue that no one would ever say anything like: "I'm going to babysit a two-year-old tomorrow. I hope they are well-behaved. I hope they can entertain themselves. I don't want any trouble with them." As a result, they argue, the "singular they" can never fully replace "he," "his," and "him" in cases where the gender is unknown.

THE
"If you or I use a word inappropriately, that's an error. If a newspaper uses a word inappropriately, that's a citation source for the dictionaries." Peter Moylan
Masculine/Feminine = 'gender'. Applies to language

But not always and only to language.
He was very masculine looking.

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
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A good summary. I think there may have been some ... permitted, because I've been noticing it recently on official things.

As the wiki article suggests, this
usage has a long history, it's something that seems to ... I think it's silly to condemn it as "bad grammar".

My argument against it isn't usually because of its wonky grammar but because it leads to high weirdness and plain ... the "singular they" can never fully replace "he," "his," and "him" in cases where the gender is unknown. THE

The instance quoted is a rare one and the problem can usually be avoided by recasting, sometimes in the plural so that it's a genuine plural.

In the quote about the baby, it does look a little strange in writing but in speech would probably go unnoticed. It's a strained contrived example, though, because most people would know the sex of a child they were going to babysit.
"I have to babysit a two-year-old tomorrow; I don't know if it's a boy or a girl; I hope the child can entertain itself."

Stephen
Lennox Head, Australia
The issue here is that, yes, there are many who will say that "they" etc for a single person, gender ... something that seems to come naturally, and always has, so I think it's silly to condemn it as "bad grammar".

I agree with all that, and especially with the suggestion that singular "they" is best used in moderation when anything else sounds awkward. I also want to add a couple of references that indicate that the "long history" is very long indeed, taking us close to the beginning of modern English:
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003572.html

http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/2006/09/singular-they-in-english-bibles.html

The examples start with the following, from 1526:
So lyke wyse shall my hevenly father do vnto you except ye forgeve with youre hertes eache one to his brother their treaspases. (Tyndale,
1526).

(Incidentally, I also agree with UC that sex is different from gender, but I don't get quite as steamed up about it as he does, and recognize that we are probably now in a small and disappearing minority.)

athel
Masculine/Feminine = 'gender'. Applies to language

But not always and only to language. He was very masculine looking.

Yes, and I assumed everyone would already know that.
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As the wiki article suggests, this

My argument against it isn't usually because of its wonky ... "his," and "him" in cases where the gender is unknown.

The 'sex', not the 'gender' is unknown.
In many cases, 'it' is used of babies and animals whose sex is unknown.
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