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Handsome, Gay and Singular they!

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Thinker13
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Posted 04/01/12 - 9:56 AM:
Subject: Handsome, Gay and Singular they!
I am very often looked down upon for following three English usages.It's because most of my interlocutors think them totally wrong ( very few of them consider antiquated.) I have very often taken pain in explaining about these usages, but somehow the resistance against them persists.




1. Handsome girls and women:


I have quite liberally used 'handsome' for girls and women. I sometimes had difficulty in bringing up passages from old fiction authors but there are plenty and I think you can Google some of them out. The creator of Sherlock Holmes has also used handsome for women and girls in his works. I don't have to wait long before I get frowned looks by people around me, when I use it in conversation.




2. Gay is happy:


I started using 'gay' for 'happy', when I started trying my hand at English poetry in my college days. I had seen Wordsworth and other poets of his era use this word for a good state of mind and I just felt free to use it that way. This habit persisted with me and since then, it has been so many times that I have surprised people around me by telling them that 'gay' is 'happy' too!




3. Singular 'They':


It's yet another difficult usage which makes people immdiately correct you, only to find that they have to get a harangue from you about its appropriateness. It happened just a week ago with me. I had to bring Wikipedia article up in order to make sure that my interlocutor did not consider me someone who was making things up just for winning an argument.
JrnymnX
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Posted 04/05/12 - 6:55 PM:

I always use singular they. It's a correct usage, I don't see why anyone would 'correct' you.
Thinker13
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Posted 04/05/12 - 10:21 PM:

JrnymnX wrote:
I always use singular they. It's a correct usage, I don't see why anyone would 'correct' you.



Perhaps it's not so apparent in my part of the world. nod
Samvega
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Posted 04/17/12 - 5:39 PM:

Question, are you using these English words in India, or in the US, the UK or Australia?

In the US I can definitely see why #1 and #2 would cause people look down at you, although I myself have no problem with the way you are using those words. smiling face

I engage in #3 myself. Unfortunately English does not have gender neutral pronouns, so I will substitute "they" for "he or she" since I find "he or she" to be more awkward than "they".

Personally I think English is a troublesome enough language without people further restricting the meaning of certain words.
Thinker13
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Posted 04/18/12 - 12:29 AM:

Samvega wrote:
Question, are you using these English words in India, or in the US, the UK or Australia?


In India.

Samvega wrote:
In the US I can definitely see why #1 and #2 would cause people look down at you, although I myself have no problem with the way you are using those words. smiling face


Indeed, they're a bit archaic but it doesn't mean that your usages should always be urban or latest. In any case, it's a news to me that the same is case in USA and I am not sure about UK.smiling face

Samvega wrote:
I engage in #3 myself. Unfortunately English does not have gender neutral pronouns, so I will substitute "they" for "he or she" since I find "he or she" to be more awkward than "they".

Personally I think English is a troublesome enough language without people further restricting the meaning of certain words.


I agree on your observations about English language. One of the interlocutors on a Philosophy forum called MadPhilsophers(Which is no more in existence) used 'hesh' which is gender neutral(he/she) and also heshself(for himself/herself).
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