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Re: DEP1: Non Maintainer Uploads (final call for review)

On Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 09:00:25AM +0100, MJ Ray wrote:
> > > This was covered in a thread around
> > > http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2005/01/msg00360.html

> > This thread seems to establish that you're in a small minority with this
> > opinion.

> Well, I was using it to give a reasonable collection of the arguments
> in a fairly short subthread, not as an appeal to numbers, but of
> participants expressing a view, it's actually 3-3 with 4 or 5
> irrelevants (mostly about "y'all") by my quick tally.  Even so, why
> should language style be a weight-of-numbers thing?  If we believed in
> weight of numbers as convincing, none of us would be using debian.

You are perfectly free to use the stilted "he or she" in your own writing;
everyone will know you have a yardstick up your butt[1], but that's your
problem rather than mine.  OTOH, when you start insisting that other people
*not* use or recommend singular they in Debian because it's *wrong*
according to a particular prescriptive grammar that lots of educated native
speakers do not subscribe to, that's intellectual arrogance on your part,
and the fact that there are many native speakers who consider singular they
suitable is altogether salient.

> I'm disappointed if the docs have been patched quietly to expand the
> "singular they" bug.  There's almost no need for it.  When reasonably
> possible, please phrase things in such a way to avoid assuming gender,
> or switch some examples.  We could actually be sending positive
> messages by including examples clearly of both genders, instead of
> confusing some people with singular they.

Almost all languages I know have some irregularity in their number or person
agreement.  French has singular "vous"; Czech has singular "vy";
Spanish/Catalan/Portuguese has second-person "Usted"/"vosté"/"você"; Italian
has second-person "Lei"; German has second-person "Sie".  English singular
"they" is fundamentally no more confusing than any of these; the only
difference is that textbooks are less likely to prepare a non-native speaker
for the use of singular "they", but frankly, there are lots of other
expressions that a text book won't prepare you for which are going to be far
more confusing to a non-native speaker of that skill level.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

[1] i.e., a stick from an outmoded English system, naturally

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