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Re: 3rd person singular neutral X 3rd person plural ?

On Friday 16 May 2008 02:40:55 Andre Felipe Machado wrote:
> The text should be primarly written in third person, singular, neutral:
> "it, the Debian Project".
> (appending the above rule of thumb and example)

Actually, as Debian PRs are normally targetted[*] at technology journalists, 
who are very used to reading US-produced releases, I do not think the issue 
is too important for Debian (it would be different if you were generating 
marketing material to be used by the general public).  Combined with the fact 
that other Commonwealth English speakers are already moving towards[*] 
singular usage for companies I suggest that it would probably be appropriate 
to adopt, as Debian house style, that "the Debian Project" is always to be 
treated as singular and both verb and pronoun agreement should treat it as 

In other words, my example should be re-worded: "The Debian Project is 15 
years old and it has just issued a major security advisory".

It would be worth adding a note that this is a deliberate policy despite the 
fact that traditional British English usage would have been to use "they 
have" but that this is declining, particularly in the technology industry, 
and is an easier rule for non-native British English speakers to understand.

This should also work for other publications like newsletters and Wiki pages: 
the audience is primarily technical and will not have a problem with the 


[*] Another British spelling or usage.

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