Friday, January 15, 2016

singular they

Singular "they," the gender-neutral pronoun, has been named the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society this month. For example, "If anyone has a better idea, they’re welcome to try it."

It has been a long time since I was in high school, but it’s not true that dinosaurs were still around during my teenage years. However, I was taught to say, "If anyone has a better idea, he is welcome to try it." Such locutions, I admit, are now almost as out of date as tyrannosaurus rex.

Constructions like, "Everyone has to do their best for the team to win," started popping up on my students’ papers in the seventies. I used gallons of red ink correcting these sentences. I told my students that while such sentences might be  politically correct, they were grammatically incorrect, because “everyone” is singular, and “their” is plural. Like many of the causes I have defended in my lifetime, this was a losing battle.

By the eighties and nineties, I knew I was going to lose, and I admitted that to my students, but I continued to urge them not to commit sins of grammar in writing. Then I found myself once in a while saying things like, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion." When such sentences popped out of my mouth, I would say “oops,” and hope the grammar police had not heard me.

Now the American Dialect Society says it’s all right to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun. The Washington Post has adopted it in their style guide. I guess it’s okay to say, "Everyone looked out for their own interests." It’s okay, but I don’t think it will sound right to me. Everyone will do whatever they want anyway.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Help Inhofe Make America Great Again

Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, one of the intellectual heavyweights of the Republican Party, walked onto the Senate floor last February, carrying a snowball. With this act he brilliantly proved that global warming is just another liberal hoax.

He would like to repeat the snowball act this year, but he hasn’t been able to find any snow around Washington. You have to be sorry for the poor guy. Like Prufrock, Inhofe has seen the moment of his greatness flicker.

You can help this poor man. If there is any snow where you are, take a few moments to make a snowball and mail it to him. Help Inhofe (and Trump) make America Great again.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Natural-born Citizen

Let’s all pile on Ted Cruz. Jon McCain, Ann Coulter, and of course, the Donald have all begun to question whether Cruz is eligible to be president of the United States because he was born in Canada, although his parents were naturalized American citizens.

Former presidential candidate Dr. Carl Perrin is not offended by everyone ganging up on Cruz. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. However, Perrin is worried. If Ted cannot claim American citizenship by virtue of being born to American citizens, what does that mean for Perrin? Carl Perrin is the mirror image of Ted Cruz. He was born in Massachusetts to Canadian citizens. If—Heaven forbid!—Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, Perrin wants at least the comfort of knowing he would be welcomed as a citizen if he chose to move to Canada.