SakuraSong wrote:cob wrote:I am referring to AP Style, which dictates that using "they" in a singular sense is wrong. I am not saying it has never been done. I do it myself. Even so, it is wrong.
Cobb, the AP Style only came about because of the need to keep with a set of rules for newsprinting. You can't apply that to everyday English usage.
I can in my life. I write for a living. Any time I use "they" in the singular, my editors are all over me.
And to everyone talking about dialect and things of this nature, I get where you are coming from. Cormac McCarthy often uses the word "they" to mean "there" when his characters are speaking. However, he does this to set the tone, to be authentic to the place, and things like this. He does it to misuse the language on purpose. That is very different than misusing it and pretending you are not.
I get why this is an issue and why people want to use the language this way. As I said before, it is because we don't have the right word and there is often no better option. Everything else just sounds terrible. And I certainly understand that language evolves and rules can be broken in many situations. So I supposed what I would say is that we may not have any choice but to break the rules in certain situations, but I think that doing so is shame and that we would be better off to fix the language.
I also think that a lot of the reason why we think all of the other options are poor (such as writing "his or her") is just because we are lazy when we speak. We say things in the wrong fashion all of the time, when we are not writing. Slowly, that invades the way that we think about language. Then, when we write, we think that things that are correct "sound funny" and so we find it natural and acceptable to start breaking the rules while writing as well. This would not happen if we were not lazy when we spoke, and if we did not have this idea that people who use the language correctly sound overly formal, but there is no fixing that.