Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Androcentrism in prescriptive grammar: singular ‘they’, sex-indefinite ‘he’, and ‘he or she’1

  • Ann Bodine (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

This paper demonstrates that prior to the beginning of the prescriptive grammar movement in English, singular ‘they’ was both accepted and widespread. It is argued that the prescriptive grammarians' attack on singular ‘they’ was socially motivated, and the specific reasons for their attack are discussed. By analogy with socially motivated changes in second person pronouns in a variety of European languages, it is suggested that third person pronoun usage will be affected by the current feminist opposition to sex-indefinite ‘he’ – particularly since the well-established alternative, singular ‘they’, has remained widespread in spoken English throughout the two and a half centuries of its ‘official’ proscription. Finally, the implications of changes in third person singular, sex-indefinite pronouns for several issues of general interest within linguistics are explored. (Language change, sex roles and language, language attitudes, language planning, prescriptive grammar, pronouns.)

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

A. D. Grimshaw (19732013;1974). On language and society: parts I and II. Contemporary Society 2 (6). 575–83; 3 (1). 3–11.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×