The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, January 19, 2004

Use of she as a common pronoun spreading to general media?

I've noticed the odd instance; but let's take this opportunity to nail the phenomenon: a piece by Dennis Ryerson, editor of the Indianapolis Star, whose theme is
All editors, all journalists, should have stories done about them.

He goes on to point that
Initial impressions are critical. A reporter writing about me or my newsroom will get more from me if she's courteous, knowledgeable, and looks and acts professional.

Whoa, boy! Run that by me again...

As any fule kno, English does not possess a common personal pronoun. Neither, for that matter, does French or Spanish [1]. The correct usage (in those days when such a concept was admitted by our intellectual betters) is to use he as a common pronoun.

This, needless to say, offends the grievance-Meisterinnen (or is that, Meisterwimmin?), and their whipped colleagues. So a habit has grown in academic circles (MLA-influenced, no doubt) whereby, in an act of affirmative action, instead of he, the common pronoun used is she.

It looks ridiculous, is tediously distracting, and no doubt provides much amusement where two or three wimmin are gathered.

Can the loathsome practice be confined to the Groves - or must the rest of us suffer?

Answers on a postcard...

  1. In French, on is of indefinite gender; in translating the offending sentence into French, it would be possible to recast it so as to permit the use of on. But on does not mean he or she, as the case may be. Which is what I mean by a common pronoun.

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