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Re: Bits from the WNPP: RFH tag

On Wed, 2004-08-04 at 13:35 +0200, Bernhard R. Link wrote:
> That might be true. Both are stupid viewed from the right direction.
> But "he" already has the meaning[1], while they would form an addition
> to the language. When we extend language, there is no reason to
> implement a proper solution like a totally new word. no use to overload
> already existing words and cause confusion.

If 'they' for an unspecified person is an extension of the language,
that extension happened many hundreds of years ago.

Some examples from the Oxford English Dictionary:

1526  Pilgr.  Perf.  (W.  de  W.  1531) 163b, Yf..a psalme scape ony
persone,  or  a lesson, or else yt they omyt one verse or twayne. 1535
FISHER  Ways  perf.  Relig. ix. Wks. (1876) 383 He neuer forsaketh any
creature  vnlesse they before haue forsaken them selues. 1749 FIELDING
Tom Jones VIII. xi, Every Body fell a laughing, as how could they help
it.  1759  CHESTERFIELD  Lett.  IV.  ccclv. 170 If a person is born of
a..gloomy temper..they cannot help it. 1835 WHEWELL in Life (1881) 173
Nobody  can deprive us of the Church, if they would. 1858 BAGEHOT Lit.
Stud. (1879) II. 206 Nobody fancies for a moment that they are reading
about  anything  beyond  the  pale  of ordinary propriety. 1866 RUSKIN
Crown  Wild  Olives 38 (1873) 44 Now, nobody does anything well that
they cannot help doing. 1874 [see THEMSELVES 5].

> Btw: while we are at the topic. Are things like "developer" or "leader"
> gender neutral phrases in English or does one need things like in
> German? ("devleoperess" and "leaderess" sound funny, so I hope we
> don't have this problem. Or only for the German translations...)

No, in English phrases like 'developeress' or 'leaderess' are generally
only used by people who want to try to poke fun at women being
developers or leaders.


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