Fashionable Linguistics

John McWhorter:

Today, we have our own fads. We’re more likely to hear about using nouns as verbs – structure a lesson, impact a discussion – or making new verbs from nouns, such as liaise. Yet the verbs copy, view, worship and silence were born from nouns to no complaint. The fashion simply hadn’t yet arisen to condemn them. Or, for that matter, no fuss was made at the time when William Shakespeare and William Makepeace Thackeray, both celebrated as masters of the tongue, used they in the singular form.

The transition to “they” can’t happen fast enough. Good enough for Chaucer, good enough for me.

One Response to Fashionable Linguistics

  1. I’ve always struggled with ‘they’. If I could have back the cumulative time I’ve spent staring at this word with uncertainty, well, no one would really care, would they?

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